Thursday, May 2, 2013

Forty years of fashion, the 1780 to 1820 fashion parade at Jane Austen Festival Australia

Photo courtesy Lawrie Brown
My friend Samantha and I presented an historical fashion parade of 40 years of Regency fashionat this year's Jane Austen Festival Australia.

We asked attending costumers to show off their gowns, suits and uniforms from between the years 1780 to1820 to the audience on the Friday Dinner with Mr Darcy Variety Night.

The Fashion Parade was a great success and I am sharing it with you to enjoy as well. Sadly we have very few photos of the parade itself, apart from the one above, so where I can I will link to the makers blog for images or use my own and at the last resort, use images from art work of the period.

Welcome, come with us on a time traveller’s journey, no TARDIS needed, only needle, thread and a passion for history. Travel through 40 years of fashion changes from 1780 to 1820. The models have created all these elegant gowns, suits and uniforms, with a few exceptions. Enjoy your trip through time … 

Tea in a Teacup
Kristy Venten
Maker: Kelly Lock

To start our parade we have a beautiful example of a late 18th century Georgian Caraco jacket and petticoats.  Caraco jackets were styled in the same way as a gown of the period, but the skirts were trimmed shorter, usually about mid-thigh length. Other types of jackets were trimmed even shorter than this. The jacket was then worn over stays, panniers or a false rump (Couldn’t we all do with one of those?), and usually a matching petticoat. Note the formal structure of the gown created by stays, many petticoats and a bum pad. This style is formal and will soon disappear into the simplicity of the neo-classical style of the Regency and Directoire periods. Across Europe revolution is fomenting, soon to bubble over in the French Revolution and the world, and fashion, will never be the same again.

Pattern adapted from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion.

George Miller,
Maker, Sam Miller

Mr Collins is wearing the dark black suit of a Regency clergyman. He is a man who is ever humble and does not like to put himself forward so his style is slightly out of fashion, but still elegant. The fabrics are chosen for wear and comfort; Mr Collins does like his comforts.

George specially requested this garb as he'd always wanted to be Mr Collins.

Adapted very skilfully from a commercial pattern to create the period look.

John is on the left
John Potter
Royal Navy Officer - Lieutenant 1787 - 1805

John is wearing a Royal Navy officer's full dress uniform for the rank of Lieutenant in the style of the 1787 regulations. This style stayed in vogue until 1805. War and Revolution was very much a part of this period and men in uniforms were a part of all social events and added glitter and flair to a ball.

Throughout this period, the cut and style of the officer’s uniforms resembled those of the army which was itself based on the civilian fashions of the time. Sailor's dress in contrast was very different to their shore based contemporaries, being designed for practical use at sea, and it marked them very distinctly as being seamen.

The 1787 officer's uniform comprised a long blue coat (gold laced for more senior officers) with flat gilt buttons bearing an anchor device, single breasted white waistcoat and breeches, white shirt, stockings or hose and buckle shoes. The hat resembled the original tricorn shape but was by this period virtually an 'extended bicorn' which was worn 'athwart' (crossways) and was gold laced for senior officers. The head would normally be covered with a white powdered wig pulled back in a pigtail.

For ordinary dress or 'undress', officers had a plainer, more practical coat. For Lieutenants this was blue throughout, including lapels which could be fastened across the body, plain cuffs and standing collar, all edged with white piping. The more decorative 'dress' sword would also be replaced with a more practical fighting sword - typically a curved sword called a 'hanger'.

Purchased from a military supplier.

J-L to the right
Jenny-Lee Heylen
Maker, Lorna McKenzie

A Dust jacket for a Regency gentleman, Dust jackets evolved from the gentleman’s 18th century banyan, a comfortable lounge jacket for less formal occasions in one’s home. The war and revolution had a great influence on both women’s and men’s dress to a more simple and neo-classical. Dressing ‘down’ was the fashion, keeping your head more important than displaying your silks or satins.

The English country gentleman ‘look’ took the fashion world by storm in the early Georgian/Regency period. Men adopted their ‘huntin’, shootin’, n’, fishin’ clothes for the town and the ball. Comfort became fashionable.

Pattern was drafted from a late 18th century banyan and then adapted to portrait images of the period.

Steve is 2nd from right
Stephen Gapps
Army Officer  Infantry Captain (1805-1812)

Stephen is wearing a British Army officer's uniform of the rank of
Captain. The rank is indicated by the presence of two epaulettes on the shoulders and the absence of any additional devices on the epaulettes. More junior officers (Lieutenants and Ensigns) typically wore one epaulette on the right shoulder 

The uniform reflects a style worn between 1805 and 1812 as fashions changed from long swallow tailcoats to shorter, more practical coatees, partly in response to the experience of the British Army in North America. The coatee can be worn in three different ways depending on the occasion  either with lapels fully buttoned back for formal occasions such as balls or at court, partly buttoned back (a style fashionable with young officers) or fully buttons across to protect the 'facing colour' which was a common style on campaign.

Officers wore a magenta sash around their waist (or over the shoulder for highland regiments) and generally wore a sword as further marks of their status. The bicorn was an item of headgear worn regularly before 1805 but it was falling out of fashion in the early 19th Century to be replaced by felt shakos. Senior officers however, continued to favour bicorns well beyond the introduction of the new headgear. Officer's dress, particularly on campaign, was not as closely regulated as that of the men..! Breeches and buckle shoes are worn for social occasions but would be replaced by trousers and boots or shoes in the field.

Purchased from a military supplier.

Meg is on the far left
Meg Gardiner

Meg’s day robe introduces us to the revolutionary influence on women’s fashion, simplicity and elegance held sway. The influence of the Royal Court were gone, replaced by the influences of the classical world of Greece and Rome.

Her fabric, beautiful mauve voile, lined in white cotton, shows us the influence of the East India Company and the exotic cottons that were now available.  Her gown is based on the neo-classical early Regency and Directoire period style of simplicity and grace.

Meg’s elegant robe features a simple high bodice tightened by draw-strings, a graceful draping skirt in soft fabric, a small train for day wear, the gown’s back bodice shows the characteristic ‘diamond’ back and the inset sleeves still used the late 18th century techniques to provide better arm movement.

Pattern used Sense & Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet.

More images
Sophie Kunst

Sophie is wearing a high waisted, bib-fronted day gown in beautiful blue and white stripes, with blue trim. Her gown is in cotton, wildly fashionable for any lady of style. It is simple and elegant. The column shape of a Grecian statue, with the graceful gathers at the back.

Both the bib-front style and the long straight sleeves covering her hands provide a perfect example of this extremely popular style of the early Regency.

Pattern used Sense & Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet.

Jo Sandbach

A soft rose cambric robe, with full long sleeves, unornamented at the feet, piping is used to create a soft smocking effect on bodice and sleeves. The gown drapes elegantly with the mid-teens A-line look, but with a softness provided by the drape of the fabric. Its simplicity belies its elegance.

The bodice & sleeves are based on a "The Mantua-Maker" pattern.

Joanne Van Raaphorst

A stunning recreation of Mrs Hurst's full dress (ball gown), as seen in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation in the mid-90s.

According to a biography writer, Jane revised her books Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility’s in 1811 and had them published in 1813.

The original gown was made in green silk with green velvet contrast. Joanne’s is brown with burgundy velvet contrast. Other than that, Joanne has decorated the costume as close as possible to the original.

Her jewellery and headpiece are also replicas of the film costume and were created by a good friend.

We can see a further move away from the neo-classical style, formality of line is returning to high fashion.

Pattern Sense & Sensibility adaptation.

Gabriel Bienek
Maker, Lorna McKenzie, The Tailor's Apprentice

Gabriel wears a two toned green silk robe in full dress, with short puffed sleeves made in the Elizabethan manner. Her robe is ornamented at the feet by embroidery in silver and the sleeves are styled in the same embroidery.

The fabric is a 7 metre silk saree. Shawl and saree gowns were extremely popular as gown fabric during the Regency, Directoire and Empire periods. As the East India Company’s goods trickled, then flooded back to England and Europe, these beautifully woven and embroidered objects were greatly desired and gown styles utilising these elements were much employed.

Note how Gabriel’s gown sports the fashionable A-line silhouette of the mid-teens with its Gothic Elizabethan and Renaissance influences. This silhouette will become more stiff and exaggerated as the century progresses.

The pattern was drafted from period examples of 1813 gowns with especial reference to Jean Hunniset and Norah Waugh.

Antonia Lai
Antonia’s 1817 ensemble is based on the November 1, 1817 fashion plate from Ackermann’s Repositiory.

Ackermann’s Repository was the fashion magazine of the Regency, along with others such as Bel Assemblee. These beautifully painted watercolour designs were the epitome of haute couture. If your mantua maker could emulate one of these ensembles you were lucky indeed.

Antonia’s stylish walking ensemble includes an elegant Spencer jacket showing the military influence on women’s fashion, a white muff, hat and a white robe with ruffle edges and puffs. Simplicity has been replaced by decoration and trim. The gown’s bodice and the Spencer are extremely high waisted, sitting directly under the bust.

We have reached the apogee of the short waisted gowns; soon, fashion will dictate a move downward towards the natural waist. Antonia’s skirt ruffles and puffs demonstrate further the move to the more elaborate gown ‘architecture’ of the late teens and early 20s, moving even farther from the neo-classical simplicity of the early Regency.

Pattern drafted by Antonia from period sources.

Lorna McKenzie


Lorna’s gown is a reproduction of the sporting uniform worn by the women members of the Royal Society of British Bowman in 1823. These gowns worn by the women archers copied the men’s uniform colours,  Lincoln green with a stylised yellow or pink and black trim of van dyke points representing arrowheads. The women archers also wore a chemisette in the Elizabethan ruff style and a Tam O'Shanter type of bonnet.

Archery, battledore/shuttlecock, walking and horse riding were the main sporting activities followed by ‘genteel’ women in this period.

This final style in our trip through Regency fashion shows the trend to much wider skirts, the hem is supported with wool wadding to hold the shape of the A-line and a rope petticoat was often worn as a support.

From this point on, the gown’s bodice will head down to the natural waist, skirts will widen into a bell shape, needing rope petticoats or horse hair crinolines to provide support. The neo classical era of the Regency, Directoire and Empire is at its end, moving forward to the Victorian period bell silhouette. 

Pattern drafted by Lorna (aka The Tailor's Apprentice) with reference to the Royal Society of British Bowman portrait of 1822.

This ends our trip through Regency fashions between 1780 and 1820, we hope you have enjoyed it; please show your appreciation by giving our models a big round of applause. The models are more than happy to chat with you over the weekend about the creation of their gowns, or you can chat further with Samantha or Lorna at anytime, we respond well if champagne and chocolates are provided … once again, please thank our models … and they did, long and loud!


I'm The Tailor's Apprentice and I have created The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection. 1940s WWII dress making patterns for the 21st century woman. Patterns created by me from my extant 1940s gowns. All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Regency Ball to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the European crossing of the Blue Mountains

Upper Assembly Rooms, Bath. Photo Lorna McKenzie
Come and join me at my first The Tailor's Apprentice Regency Frolic on September 28th and dance the night away, or, if dancing isn't your style, then join the card players and try not to loose your estate and/or inheritance!

Our ball will be held in the delightful assemble rooms of the wonderfully historic Paragon Cafe, Katoomba built in 1916.

A Regency Ball in the style of 1813 on Saturday, 28th September to mark the 1813 European crossing of the Blue Mountains. Book online now as numbers are limited!

Cost is $75 per head & includes:

  • Pre-ball dance classes at 5.30 with champagne and canap├ęs,
  • The ball (which commences at 8 pm), and all dances will be “called” and instruction provided.
  • A Regency collation (a full supper and desert buffet) for your delectation
  • Card tables for those who prefer not to dance will be provided.
Full dress (i.e Regency evening dress) for a Regency ball.

Book online now to ensure your place on the ballroom floor!

A picnic at Wentworth Falls Lake Sunday 29th
At 12:30 pm on Sunday 29th, we will hold a 'bring your own' picnic and small promenade at Wentworth Falls Lake, Sinclair Crescent, Wentworth Falls, to enjoy the untrammeled beauties of the Blue Mountains.

A Regency Frolic by The Tailor's Apprentice


I'm The Tailor's Apprentice and I have created The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection. 1940s WWII dress making patterns for the 21st century woman. Patterns created by me from my extant 1940s gowns. All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern.