Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Regency Dress

Here is the piece de resistance of Mum's costume hoard - a Regency dress dating from around 1803ish. Strictly speaking, this is before the true Regency period which was 1811-1820, but for me,  1795 - 1820 is the time scale I think of to be the 'Regency'. The dress is made from a nude/beige coloured silk and has long sleeves with a gathered bodice piece over the bust.  Unfortunately, the photo of it hung on the door doesn't do justice to its lovely shape and it is difficult to imagine how it would look on a woman.  Twenty years ago, I actually managed to fit in it, but I tried again last time I visited Mum and I have expanded way too much! The moment of defeat came when the under bodice pieces that tie up over the bust ended up somewhere under my chin! Oh well, at least I fitted in it once.

Here is a close up of the front of the dress, showing the lovely bodice detail.  I wonder whether it was made for a special occasion, or a local assembly dance, or who actually wore it?  Unfortunately, these questions will probably never be answered.
This is the back of the dress, showing the high waist and a very pretty ribbon sash.

 A close up of the gathers at the back and the ribbon sash.

A close up of the front of the bodice, showing the gathers.  This bodice piece hooks up at each side and goes over the two tied under bodice pieces.  Once on, the ribbon is pulled which tightens the front of the bodice.
The back of the sleeve, showing the beautiful hand stitching and the interesting way the sleeves have been set in.
 Inside the bodice, again you can see the careful hand stitching of the cotton lining.

This shows a part of the under bodice with the main front folded down.  you can just see a ribbon tie on the right of the photo.
I am really privileged to be able to look at the dress in such detail and I think Mum is going to give it to a museum as it needs conserving for the future.  Perhaps it will be able to provide textile experts with the opportunity to look at the construction of a dress from this time and hopefully, it will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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