Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Last Minute Dressing Advice

regencey dancers

Gentle Reader~

I have received multiple missives from gentle persons concerned with finding something appropriate to wear.

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Costumed and non-costumed alike enjoy the dancing at Mrs. Parks’ Rout!

First, let me say that any blouse and skirt or dress that makes you feel pretty and genteel is perfectly acceptable. We do recommend flat shoes (like ballet flats) for the dancing, though. The gentlemen need not trouble themselves beyond donning a pair of nice trousers, a button down shirt, and dress shoes that are easy to dance in. The addition of a tie or cravat and vest or jacket will make a man even MORE dashing. (See this post to learn more about cravats and vests for men!).

Still want to take it up a notch?

As we are nearing the evening of our event, we know that time is short in sourcing something special for the Rout. I will to try to inspire and guide you to something that can be found as nearly ready-to-wear as possible.

Option One: Your Closet

What about that sun dress that makes you feel beautiful? Or that skirt you wear to church that always secretly makes you want to twirl? Add a filmy thrift store scarf to that dress and your favorite ruffled blouse to that skirt and you are merely an imaginations breath away from Regency beauty. Look at your closet for items that might be re-imagined as “olden time”. You might surprise yourself!

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Two gents, in vest and jacket, dance with Lady Strong at the 2013 Rout.

Gentlemen may be a little put off by the idea of a costume (although, if you men had any idea how “Mr. Darcy clothes” can send hearts a fluttering, you might change your mind). Go ahead and pull out that white button down shirt you wear to the office or to church, pair it with some khaki pants or darker slacks and you will be good to go. If you want to add the dash of a cravat, consider tying your regular necktie in the way illustrated below:

Take your regular everyday tie. You are focusing on the wide part here, for that reason those crazy wide ties from the 70s are kinda awesome for this.

Pop that collar up and keep it popped. Fold and loop the wide part one around and under the skinny part 1 time.

Notice all that extra skinny Part?

Tuck it in to the shirt and add a corsage pin, a lapel pin, tie tack,  a little brooch, or neat little stick pin to tuck it into place.

Now admittedly this looks a bit more Edwardian era, and I like the look of it under a vest best. HOWEVER It is a fun and easy way to “olden time” up your ensemble.

Option Two: Thrift Stores

If I was to rate the activities in my life in order of most enjoyable to least I would put thrift store shopping as a solid 3 or 4. But that would be a Fib as it regularly ties for 1st. Truth.

Gentlemen first on this one, because it is really similar to the closet option:

  • White button down dress shirt…Collar Popped
  • Standard necktie tied as per instructions above
  • Possible addition of vest (check the ladies vest section, too, as sometimes they get put there)
  • Shoes of any variety EXCEPT athletic or sandal.

BOOM! All done and not too out of your comfort zone, I should think.

Ladies, for you I have more information. All images below are from one thrift store, and one trip to said thrift store. This is my favorite thrift store, actually. It is a little rough around the edges but the deals can’t be beat. I love this place and it is with great hesitation that I share this gem of a location. But the better angels of my nature have prevailed. Thrift Center.

There are chances of finding a gown perfect with no alteration needed. I found a couple pf early 90s items that would do the trick nicely. Both in white, that classic Regency colour, and both a LITTLE on the short side, but some regency women rocked a shorter skirt. They make it easy for dancing.

Here are the two I found in my thrifting search:

Let’s assume you can’t find something this close to perfect. You are still good, my dears! Let us now look at ways you can put multiple pieces together to form a look.

Another way to mix and match elements is to capitalize on the jumper type thing that the Regency had going on…and then ROCK IT, like Romola Garai’s Emma:

Two jumpers in one shot!

Two jumpers in one shot!

 

Here is a Regency Fashion Plate Inspiration:

Option three: Buy something online

This option requires more money but less work than the other options.

Your best bet is to Google “Regency gown” and see if any of the options look good to you on shopping sites like Ebay or Etsy.

I have never ordered anything from any of the links below, so no endorsement is intended, but couldn’t hurt to give it a go.

On Ebay:

$77 for sizes Xl-XXL Available in multiple colours.

$77 for sizes Xl-XXL Available in multiple colours.

 

 

 

Fom Etsy:

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This one is only $88 and ships today!

 

Of course Etsy also has beautiful handmade gowns that are made at the height of Historical Accuracy. They are priced accordingly and I am not sure you could get them by August 2nd.

etsy silk

This Number is made of silk and ready to ship if it fits your measurement. This gown is a little pricier at $305

This seller has couple other items ready to ship as well

Lady Kathryn’s Closet on Etsy:

And this very special gown ships from Bakersfield and so may be able to be expedited in time for the Rout (if you fit the gown, that is!). It would make a great gift for a young lady. Lady Kathryn is an especial friend of ours and she has been the belle of the ball in this gown a few times in her girlhood!

Made of silk, lined in cotton. $225.

I hope this helps those of you who are fretting what to wear. The Merry Hostesses hope to see you at the Rout!

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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!

Mrs. Parks’ Rout: What’s a Man to Wear?

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Mrs. Parks and her merry co-hostesses, Mrs. Strong and Miss Parish, know that finding an appropriate ensemble his daunting enough for the ladies. But believe it or not, it can be harder for the gentlemen! Men’s fashions may not change swiftly, but the difference between men’s clothing over 200 years is very significant!

As such, please let us assure you that modern suits, so long as they are accustomed to the occasion (jackets or vests, ties, dress slacks) are more than welcome! We want you to be comfortable and have a good time.

But, if you have a more ADVENTUROUS bent and would like to participate more fully in the conceit of the evening, taking the time to put together a men’s ensemble that evokes the Regency will be both admired and well-complimented by all of the best dressed ladies!

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But how to go about it?

If you (or someone you know) is a sewer, there are a few options out there.  There are patterns available for period costumes, if you have the time to devote to it:

http://www.oldtimepatterns.com/regencymen.html — This page has some options for Regency Waistcoats (vests), tailcoats, breeches, and militia coats to help get the gentleman into the swing of things.

Also, this Simplicity-Burda pattern is an option for a militia coat. http://www.simplicity.com/p-7272-burda-style-napoleon.aspx

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If you have SOME sewing skills but not the time to construct garments from the ground up, there are some shortcuts you can take. Lets go over some options piece by piece. Trousers and Jackets are probably the most difficult to put together and take some sewing/pinning skills.

 

 

BREECHES:

This technique made the rounds on Pinterest recently and is certainly good enough for “government work”.

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Faking Gentlemen’s Clothing for Regency or Revolution. The original source for this photo (which we found on Pinterest) has been removed.

The outline:

Get the pants at a thrift store or inexpensive store in white, khaki, navy or black. Flat front. You can go a size or two too large and use suspenders instead of a belt to get the waistline up where it needs to be (which is at the belly button).

Cut off the trousers about 2 inches below the knee and create a notch at the outside of the knee. Hem the knee and then add a button or snap at the notch to close the knee.

Use the fabric you just cut off  from the legs to create a panel that will cover the fly. Hem the edges of the panel. Seam across the bottom and 1/4 way up the sides. Add buttons and button holes to the top corners. Don’t feel like you have to get fancy with the button holes, just make it so that some large buttons will keep the flap up.  Metal, wood or leather buttons look the best.

Remove the beltloops and sew the front pockets shut if you want.

TIP: Cut off the trousers low enough below the knee to stay BELOW the knee when the gentleman is sitting down. This will make finding socks a bit easier.

Voila! Quick and easy breeches!

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SHIRT

During the time period, the shirts would have been “puffy shirts”– kind of like pirate shirts.  But for the sake of expediency, a white modern shirt that’s a bit too big will do.  This is something you can get at a thrift store for most men. They wore the collar “popped” so that the points framed the chin and used a “neckcloth” (see below) for a tie.

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Fake waistcoat

Flip the bottom points on a modern vest to mimic an historical waistcoat. Just pin to the inside.

WAISTCOAT (or vest)

Vests are also something that you can get at a thrift store for most men.  To make it look more historical, simply flip the points at the bottom-front up under the vest and pin them or tack them down with needle and thread.  The bottom front should be a straight line across.

But, if you have a sewer in your life, making a period waistcoat is one of the simplest patterns for men and they go together pretty quickly.  Even this Simplicity pattern can be modified by cutting the pattern straight across the bottom. http://www.simplicity.com/p-1806-men-costumes.aspx

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NECKCLOTH (tie)

There were lots of styles of “ties” or neckcloths of the time period.  You can get your own by taking a length of fabric (usually white) about 5-6ft long, and about 3 inches wide, wrapping it around the outside of  a popped up collar  and then tying it into a square knot or, for the most period of gentleman, a thick bow.902f96745245f36b70ffd976568b1004

For the more fashion forward “cravat”, the cloth should be about 4ft long and 6-8 inches wide.  Fold the center section in half lengthwise, put it around the neck on the outside of a popped collar. Then wrap it into a half knot so that one flap is at the front and the other at the back. This creates the “waterfall”.  Then pin it into place with a pearl headed pin!

See examples of neckcloths and how they are tied at our Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/percfresno/neckcloths/

Thrift Store Hint: If sourcing a long piece of fabric is difficult, hit up the women’s scarves at the thrift store. when folded into a triangle diagonally, they are usually long enough to fake a waterfall cravat or a thick bow.

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SOCKS AND SHOES

Shoes for men in the Regency were usually flat slip-ons similar to Italian loafers or tall boots for “men of action” while out riding, hunting, or in the military.   If you don’t have shoes similar to below, worry not. At our party, a modern dress shoe will, of course, suffice.

Socks can be difficult t0 source. If you aren’t wearing boots that cover your calf and go up to your breeches, you’ll need a tall white cotton sock that covers your whole calf and reaches almost to the knee.  Target often carries tall cotton socks for women and they are stretchy and durable enough to fit over an average man’s calf.  Otherwise, find the tallest, all white socks you can find and make your breeches low enough to meet them!

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THE JACKET

Again, the jacket can be the toughest part to get together for men. We won’t turn away men in their shirtsleeves at the door!

The no-sew option is to try and find a tuxedo jacket at a thrift store.  But creative hands with a needle and thread can take a hip-length or longer winter coat from a thrift store and cut it into the shape of a Regency jacket.  Usually it means outlining (with chalk) where you’d like to cut away the coat in front to create the look and then hemming the cut sections shut again.  You can do the same with the back to make tails.

Now that you have some ideas on how you can get that Regency style, we hope you’ll take a few steps to enter into the world of Regency delights.  We respect that everyone has different goals when they attempt historical costuming, so rest assured that we will be delighted to greet you in your finery- whether from 1814 or 2014!

Get more inspiration at our Pinterest Page or in our Galleries for Mrs. Parks’ Rout 2013 and Jane Austen Evening in Pasadena 2013. 

See you at Mrs. Parks’ Rout!

Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Women’s Regency Dress Pattern

 

Kristin Lyn Crase and I made this Simplicity 4055 pattern in a weekend. The pattern went together relatively easy, if I remember correctly.

http://www.simplicity.com/p-2088-costumes.aspx

 

Of course actual regency attire is not necessary. Any floaty skirt and tiara or for the women or button down shirt and pants will work for the men (although vests and jackets really add to the proceedings). Feel free to gender self identify. If you purchase one thing for the evening, I would recommend gloves. They make every thing feel old timely and genteel.

 

~Mrs. Parks

Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Don’t have an historical costume but wondering what to wear?

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Last year, our hostess Mrs. Parks, posted a few items that may be an option for those who would like something appropriate to wear, but who doesn’t own the appropriate historical garb. Worry not! A few thrift store finds (or even something from your own closet) can be elevated to being perfectly appropriate for the Rout!

Examples from Mrs. Parks are below.  More advice on what to wear will come soon, but this will get you started!