Thursday, August 19, 2010
Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches and Ruffled Shirts
Today we'll talk about men's clothes in the Regency era, which occurred about two hundred years ago in England. This post is a primer on the subject, because I'm no expert. But in order for my stories to ring true, I must know how to dress--and undress--my hero.
Our modern world began to take shape in the Regency. Many facets of the era are recognizable to our eyes, including men's clothes.
Here’s a list the Regency gentleman's wardrobe, and the modern equivalent, as close as I can find: (I apologize for the ragged table, but blogger is not cooperating.)
trousers--breeches, pantaloons, trousers (the Regency gentleman had 3 lengths)
socks--stockings (not quite the same)
Fabrics of choice were wool and linen because they were produced in the British Isles. Imported fabrics, like silk, and our everyday workhorse material, cotton, were luxury items and used mainly by the rich.
Here's a description of male attire from my Regency time travel, Lady of the Stars. The twenty-first century heroine, Caroline, gets her first good look at the Regency hero, Richard:
Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle.
This passage illustrates another aspect of Regency men's clothes: they were tight. A man's coat often fit so closely he needed help putting it on, and then he might be unable to lift his arms as high as his shoulders. Form-fitting breeches literally left little to the imagination. Then, as now, such clothes could look good only on men with the best physiques, like romance novel heroes.
The Regency hero--a handsome man with a great physique and gorgeous clothes. What a fantasy. Stay tuned for part 2.
Thank you all,