How to Dress for a Ball (Resources)

On this page you will find:

  • Descriptions of Typical Regency Attire to wear to the Pride & Prejudice Ball, which is set in the English Regency Era (1800-1820).
  • Resources on where to look online to get clothing made for you.
  • Resources on how to source ready-made Regency Clothing and accessories for purchase.
  • Resources on where to find patterns to make your own Regency Wardrobe.
  • A footnote on Underpinnings (for the Ladies…)


Typical Regency Ball Attire:


For Ladies:
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  1. A full-length, empire waisted gown in a soft fabric with fully covered shoulders.  A white muslin gown represents the Regency era very well, but gowns came in many colours.
  2. Ballet Flat style shoes, often tied with ribbons
  3. Accessories:  Elbow length white gloves, white stockings, a “Reticule” purse, a fan, a shawl, bracelets, necklaces, stud or drop earrings
  4. Hair:  worn up with adornments such as tiaras, combs, headpieces, feathers / flowers, or turbans


For Gentlemen:
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1. A cut away frock coat (a tail coat with a high collar, single or double breasted; called a “cut away” coat because the front was “cut away” leaving the tails in the back)
2.  A waistcoat (vest)
3.  A white, high-collared shirt (was a long sleeved chemise, often with a ruffled front–a modern dress shirt works well)
4.  A white cravat (a modern cravat or a 4″ wide, 6′ long length of light muslin or lawn tied around the neck over the collar finished in a bow.)
5.  Fall-Front Breeches (pants that end at the knee that have a “fall front”–before zippers existed) with white socks  OR
6.  Trousers were also wornd94d0f7d81a1e8eea79bfbc51d4eacdb
7.  Oxford style dress shoes
8.  Historical military dress and traditional cultural dress (ex. kilts) were also common
9.  Accessories:  walking stick, top hat (for outdoors), pocket watch, watch fob, white gloves, lorgnettes
10.  Hair:  typically worn short or tied back and mainly clean shaven

 

To see photos and further explanations of Regency Dress, READ THIS!
We Make History.com presents an Introduction to Ladies Fashions of the Regency Era (Lord Scott)
We Make History.com presents An Introduction to Gentlemen’s Clothing of the Regency Era (Lord Scott)
The Oregon Regency Society“The Regency” 

Ready for more?
All about Regency Accessories
What is a Reticule? (from The Dreamstress)
A primer on Regency Hair (for Women)
A primer on Regency Hair (for Men)

Lady Jane’s Regency Era Pinterest Board.  Over 1700 pictures of everything Regency.
A great slideshow with resources for Gentlemen’s clothing including some dashing chaps in historic military clothing.

Sourcing Accessories:

Gloves:
Ladies should wear elbow-length gloves.  Regency ladies wore white gloves almost exclusively.  Gentlemen may wear short white gloves if they choose.
There are many resources for gloves online, but here are a few:
High End gloves from Cornelia James
Amazon.ca’s Elbow-length gloves (also called “opera length”)

Socks:
Thigh high white or light coloured socks were worn by Ladies and Gentlemen.  These were either silk or cotton.
Sock Dreams Opaque Thigh High Stockings with Bow in White
Sock Dreams Solid Opaque Thigh High in White
Sock Dreams.com has lots of great socks.

Shoes:
If  you want to splurge on a pair of reproduction Regency shoes, then American Duchess is your shop.  They also sell silk stockings.

(More accessory resources coming soon…)

Thinking of Getting something made or Purchasing Online?
Here are some resources:
Remember to search for Regency Era (1800 – 1820)

History in the Making (Ottawa, ON)
History in the Making’s Vintage Clothing Shop
History in the Making’s Reproduction Shop; Men’s Costume 1800-1810
History in the Making’s Men’s Military Hats
History in the Making’s Men’s Military Clothing
History in the Making’s Men’s Civilian Hats

Made to order High End Gentlemen’s Clothing from the UK: The Sutler’s Stores

Made to order Ladies Regency Gowns: Williamsburg Rose Fashions
You can also search for dresses or Regency Gowns on ETSY

And then there’s THIS list of Costuming Resources at Milieux.com (You’re welcome)


Are you ready to Make your own Regency Wardrobe?

Patterns:

Laughing Moon Mercantile
– Men’s and Women’s clothing, underpinnings, and accessories
For Ladies, Lady Jane recommends LMM #115 (Corset with Chemise) and *LMM #126 Ladies’ Round or Trained Gown with a High Stomacher Front c.1800-1810
For Gentlemen, Lady Jane recommends LMM #121, #122, or #124 Frock coats, LMM #123 or #125 Men’s Vest, LMM #131 Men’s Trousers and Breeches (Combo packs are available)
LMM patterns are wonderful.  They allow you to create amazing garments that have a high degree of historical accuracy. *Lady Jane’s favourite Regency Dress Pattern
N.B. Trained gowns are impractical for dancing, so keep your hems floor-length

Kannick’s Korner
For Gentlemen, Lady Jane recommends Pattern KK-4102 “Men’s Shirt” for an authentic men’s chemise, and Pattern KK-4202 for a Men’s Vest.

Sense & Sensibility Patterns
Lady Jane recommends “An Elegant Lady’s Closet”, the “Regency Gown Pattern” and the “Regency Underthings Pattern.”
These patterns are available for download and printing.  This is a simple pattern that is a good teaching pattern, however it does not offer the level of finish of other patterns, as many of the pieces are hand drawn.  It’s strength is in its lack of complexity and simple assembly, allowing you for more creativity.

N. B. Lady Jane does not recommend any of the Simplicity patterns.  They are not period correct and are more complicated than they are worth.

 


A footnote about Underpinnings (I’m talking to you, Ladies):

Modern underpinnings (underwear) can absolutely be worn under Regency clothing, and, for most of us it’s the easiest and most accessible option.
However…
If you want to produce an accurate silhouette (read: be hardcore) you may want to explore creating or acquiring Regency Underpinnings.  I’ve included links to Underpinnings patterns above.  Ultimately, it is the undergarments that determine the look of the outer gown.
Basic Underpinnings include:
Layer 1:  a Chemise (a short sleeved, very light shirt with a wide neckline)
Layer 2:  Stays (the precursor to the corset, long or short depending on the fullness of your figure; short for slight figures, long for fuller figures)

Layer 3:  a Petticoat.  You may also want to make a petticoat, depending on the gown fabric you choose.  A heavier dress may not require a petticoat, or one that is lined.  Regency petticoats are bodiced or unbodiced.  For example, here is The Modern Mantua Maker wearing her Chemise. Over that go the stays, then the petticoat.  This one is unbodiced; it has straps and a tie at the back:

Retrieved from Diary of a Mantua Maker 

 

Questions?  Concerns?  Please email Lady Jane!
This page is constantly evolving, so check back for further resources.

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