Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Achieving that Regency Look for the Ladies

Hello gentle reader! Mrs. Parks here to talk about your gown for the rout! Whether you decide to make something over or sew a gown from scratch I have some ideas for you. In this post I am going to examine some patterns that are available and what sort of things you need to make for under those lovely romantic gowns.

Unlike most other historical eras you can look perfectly Austenesque with out any sort of complicated whalebone contraption. In fact there were a set of young super fashionable French people called Marvielluse, whose gowns were quite sheer!

No corset there!

No corset there!

Most proper English women though retained some sort of undergarment. Whether it was a pair of stays that strongly resembled those of the 18th century or it had the new innovation of the ‘Cups” for the breasts some alteration to the female form was employed.

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Now I think one may achieve a perfectly flattering Regency look without a pair of stays or Corset. To me the key to achieving the LOOK is to elevate the bust line.

Like the image below , which I found incredibly useful when drafting my Regency Corset Pattern.

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Now this “lift” can be achieved with a modern bra. Any demi-cup underwire will give you the right look if you shorten the straps enough to elevate that bustline. If one is concerned about a broadness of hips or fleshiness of belly (as society has taught all of us to be regardless of size) you can throw on some Spanks…seriously…BOOM done.

Historically a regency woman would wear a shift, stays, petticoat and gown…all this was on those seemingly lithe barely dressed figures.

Whereas I feel that a set of stays aren’t necessary, I would argue that a petticoat IS. For one, it feels more fun to wear when dancing, and two, it gives the fullness to the gowns you see in portraits and fashion plates.

Look at how full that skirt is!

Look at how full that skirt is!

Lack of fullness in the skirt is where I feel a lot modern patterns go wrong. Or at least they used to until all those awesome movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels came out and sparked the interest we are seeing now.

PATTERNS

Now there are some truly fabulous ladies patterns out there. Some of my favorites are from this company:

http://sensibility.com/blog/category/patterns/regency-era/
They have patterns for undergarments and multiple looks and over garments as well!

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Now… you’ll have to order this pattern online and lager sizes require that you purchase a supplement. I understand why a small company needs to do it this way, (those larger sizes must be completely redrafted…not just scaled up) but it is something to consider.

Want something available through one of the “Big 5” pattern companies?

Try Simplicity 4055

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I’ve used this pattern with some VERY minor alterations and found it quite nice.

The other option out now that I am just aching to try is Butterick B6074
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It has two neckline options which I think is super neat AND a spencer (the short-cropped Regency jackets ladies used to wear) pattern. I generally find Butterick patterns easy to use with nice clear instructions.

One of the neatest things about a regency gown is it can be made up in any fabric from simple bleached muslin to embroidered silk. Also PRINTS are coming into fashion with the dawn of the industrial revolution. There are all sorts of guidelines to choosing historically accurate prints and fabrics, but for our purposes, choose something that makes you feel pretty, that you’ll enjoy working with and that inspires your inner heroine. In further posts I’ll explore some places to find the fabric for your gown BESIDES the fabric store and some neat ideas for accessories.

Speaking of accessories! This is an era that allows you to add everything from a fan to reticule to a handkerchief to ribbons and even feathers to add to your gown and fully express your alter ego’s character for the evening. If there is any interest in more information, comment below and I’ll come up with some good internet links for your perusal!

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