Tag Archives: 1790s

Variety Please: Regency Ribbon Sashes

In modern interpretations of Regency costume, there is a widespread use of what I am going to call the “ribbon sash.” By this I mean a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily tied or sewn under the bust, and terminating with long hanging ends. I understand that this style provides an easy way to adorn a dress of any color or add color to a white dress, but I believe that the style is much too often used relative to the occurrences we see of them being worn in portraits, fashion plates, and built into extant gowns. I would like to encourage all of us to have variety in the ribbon sash styles we wear with Regency clothing.

When looking at portraits, fashion plates, and extant gowns, you do find the sort of ribbon sash I described in the beginning of this post, but you don’t find them in anywhere near the same proportion with which they are used today. You do see these types of sashes, but it is a small proportion of the styles worn and you see a variety of other sash styles, too. I would like to share a variety of ribbon sash styles with you and encourage you to pick one of these less used styles if you decide to wear a ribbon sash yourself or if you have the influence to encourage others in their own ribbon sash wearing. By expanding the styles of ribbon sashes worn, hopefully we can all more accurately represent clothing worn in the Regency period.

Generally speaking, there are 4 large categories of ribbon sash styles. I’ve included an example image of each style underneath the accompanying description and I’ve included links to other good examples (below the four sash style descriptions) so you can look at them for more ideas.

1: The Ribbon Sash (as described in the beginning of this post): a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily sewn or tied under the bust, and terminating with long hanging ends approximately 24″-36″. It is very rare to see this style used in a fashion plate or painting with the termination of the sash in any location other than center back.

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Henri François Mulard, Portrait of a lady, circa 1810

2: The Short Sash: a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily sewn or tied under the bust, and terminating with short hanging ends approximately 6″-18″. I have seen this style with the termination of the sash in center back, center front, and  occasionally off to one side of the front.

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Costume Parisien, 1817

3: The Belt Sash: a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily sewn or tied under the bust, and with very short hanging ends or without hanging ends at all. This style is sometimes plain or sometimes adorned with a buckle or bow. The buckle or bow with short ends is often at center front.

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Portrait de Laure de Berny ca. 1810 by Henri-Nicolas Van Gorp

4: The Trim Sash: a much more common variant of any of the first three sash styles. Any of the first three sash styles can fall into this category if the sash matches and coordinates, in a harmonious fashion, with trim elsewhere on the dress (neckline, sleeve openings, or hem).

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Costume Parisien, 1812

All of these sash styles are seen with different styles of termination. I’ve most often seen a variety of bows as well as tidy arrangement of loops. Often, the belt style seems as though the belt sash is actually sewn to the dress, but for the sake of options, I can easily see a ribbon sash made with a closure such as hook and eyes so the sash can be easily added or removed from any outfit. It’s worth noting that there are a substantial amount of images showing ladies from the front who appear to be wearing a ribbon sash of some sort. The trouble is that we often can’t see what’s going on in the back, so we can’t know with certainty what style of ribbon sash is actually being represented, though we can make educated guesses.

Here are more examples of each of the sash styles shown above:

1: The Ribbon Sash

Portrait of a lady, ca. 1810: ribbon sash on a white dress (ties in back)

Costume Parisien, 1813: ribbon sash on a white dress (ties in back)

2: The Short Sash

Auguste-Amalie de Baviere, ca. 1815: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1817: short sash (ties in back)

3: The Belt Sash

Laure de Berny, ca. 1810 (bow in front)

A young woman wearing gloves in a park, 1813

Anna Maria Magnani, 1814 (bow in front)

Woman knitting in a blue dress, ca. 1819 (bow in front)

4: The Trim Sash

Dress, ca. 1810, The Met: belt sash

Dress, ca. 1810-1811, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: belt sash

Costume Parisien, 1812: belt sash

Costume Parisien, 1812: belt sash

Dress, ca. 1810-1815, Rijksmuseum: belt sash

Family Portrait, 1813: short sash (ties in front)

Of course, these are only a starting point. My pinterest boards have hundreds of pins from the 1800s and 1810s that you are welcome to look at for other ideas. Keep the contrasting ribbon sashes in mind, but don’t forget that you can make sashes out of your dress fabric, too (see below). Sashes made from self fabric are quite common. Look around and see what you can find that inspires you. This Regency Portraits board has a lot of great images showing all sorts of sashes as well.

Here are some great examples of dresses with sashes made from self fabric (meaning that fabric used in the dress was also used to create a ribbon sash look):

Désirée Bernadine Eugénie Clary, ca. 1810: long sash

Costume Parisien, 1810 short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1811: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1811: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1812: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1814: short sash (ties in back)

Costume Parisien, 1817: short sash (ties in back)

In looking at my pinterest board covering 1800-1809, I do find that there are some very cute sashes then, too, that are relevant for a potential sash look. In  this period it seems that most sashes match the trim used on the dress, though it is not an absolute rule. I’ll include a few examples of this sort below, so you can look if you’re curious.

Costume Parisien, 1799: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1800: short sash: (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1800: trim ribbon sash with long ends

Young Woman Drawing, 1801: short sash (ties in back)

La Belle Assemblee, 1807: trim ribbon sash with long ends

Costume Parisien, 1808: belt sash

Felicite de Durfort von Merry, 1808: belt sash

Charlotte Bonaparte, 1808: belt sash

For the record (and because I always forget!), the official “Regency” is referring to England during the years 1811-1820, following the Prince of Wales being named regent for George III in 1810. In France, the Napoleonic Empire spanned the years 1804-1814. So there is some overlap between Empire and Regency, but not a whole lot. (And just to add another date to the mix, the Federal period in America roughly spanned the years 1780-1830.) For the purposes of this post, I’m using the word Regency to specify the 1810s, but my points about variety in sash styles are relevant for the first decade of the 19th century as well.

As a final note, let me encourage you to use color in Regency dresses (color in trim as well as color in the fabric), especially in those dresses intended to represent the 1810s rather than 1800s. By the 1810s, not all dresses were in white tones, as they were much more predominantly in the first few years of the 19th century. Colors were used often, some of the colors even being rather vivid in tone (don’t get too carried away with very bright colors, though, because chemical dyes weren’t invented till the middle of the 19th century). Check out these great resources that describe and show colors used in the Regency:

Colours used in the Regency and Georgian eras

Regency Colors and Fabrics

HSF #18: Red And Gold Regency Tiara

The theme of this HSF challenge is Re-make, Re-use, and Re-fashion. For this challenge I took two modern bracelets and turned them into a Regency tiara.

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Red and gold Regency inspired tiara.

The facts:

Fabric: None! But I started with two modern bracelets that were a gift from my mom.

Pattern: None.

Year: Loosely 1790-1820, but who knows, perhaps this will find a use in another period as well!

Notions: Gold wire and hot glue.

How historically accurate?: I give it 50%. This is absolutely on the more on the historically inspired side of things rather than the accurate historic costume side of things. The jewels are almost certainly plastic and the design is based on general Regency styles rather than any specific inspiration. Oh, they also did not have hot glue back then…

Hours to complete: 2.

First worn: Has not been worn yet, but will get worn to a Regency ball in Chelmsford, MA on October 5th!

Total cost: Free (the wire and the hot glue was in the stash)!

Here are some more shots of the construction of this tiara:

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In the beginning: stretchy bracelets. Thanks mom!

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The loose jewels after I cut off the elastic.

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Another possible design. I decided against having some of the jewels turned on their corners. It would have been hard to engineer and, after all, simplicity was a popular style in the Regency!

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The back of the tiara, where you can see the wires holding it together. There is also a loop at the center of the bottom row of jewels so I can pin the tiara to my hair at that point to keep it from bouncing.

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There are wire loops at the ends of the tiara so I can pin it to my hair. The hot glue covers the ends of the wires so they don’t also catch my hair.

That’s all for now. When I wear this I’ll be sure to take more pictures!

Project Journal: 1780s Ensemble Part III: Undergarments and Sources

I’ve decided to build a Robe a l’Anglaise, in addition to a chemise and pair of stays to wear under it. You can look at this post to see pictures of the Robe a l’Anglaise. The style of stays that I plan to use is the one below left: no straps allow ease of movement in the upper body, which is more suitable for dancing. The corset on the right is from the same period: I include it for informational and comparison purposes. Many stays at this time were either made of patterned or colored cloth, as these two are, and I enjoy the use of color on the undergarments.

c. 1780 Wool and Linen Corset and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

c. 1780 Silk Stays at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The chemises that were worn under these stays were fairly simple and almost always constructed of linen. Here are a few examples.

c. 1780 Linen and Cotton Chemise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1780-1800 Linen Chemise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1790-1810 Linen Chemise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I’ve collected some interesting (and sometimes conflicting) information regarding clothing from this period: these sources below were most helpful.

One of the best resources for this project is The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh. This book has images, patterns, contemporary quotes and construction details. It’s a great reference book to have access to for historic projects. Another wonderful reference book is Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660-1860 by Janet Arnold. This book is great supplement to Norah Waugh because it has an abundance of great drawings to explain the construction of garments. Another book that I know would have been useful to have is Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart and Susan North.

This website is also a great resource: La Couturiere Parisienne. It includes a fantastic collection of fashion plates, paintings, construction and pattern information, as well as fabric and color research for clothing from the 1400s through the 1900s. (Just a quick note that it can be viewed in English or German, and if you suddenly find yourself viewing it in German look to the top right for a little icon that you can click to switch it back to English.)

In terms of the materials needed for these items I found a great source for this project and future projects here: Wm. Booth, Draper. This website has all sorts of great things. For example, low prices on yardage of linen, cotton, and silk (in 18th century patterns and colors) and cane boning for corsets.

Project Journal: 1780s Ensemble Part II: More Research

As I mentioned in a recent post, I have decided to attend 2 events this month that will require clothing from the period 1775-1799 which I do not currently own and from a period I am not intimately familiar with. Thus I began this project in a flurry of research. After thinking of the popular styles, Robe a l’Francaise, Robe a l’Anglaise, Robe a la Polonaise, and Skirt and Jacket combination, I am left with one more possibility that was particularly popular in the late 1780s and 1790s: the Chemise Dress or Chemise de la Reine.

Les Lavoisiers by Jacques Louis David, 1788

The Chemise Dress is a descendant of the style of dress first worn by Marie Antoinette, called the Chemise de la Reine. This quote does a fantastic job of relating the social values surrounding this style in a quite amusing fashion! Aren’t you as amused as I am by this quote?

1784. When down dances my ribbon white, but so bepuckered and plaited, I could not tell what to make of her: so turning about, I cried, ‘Hey, Sally, my dear, what new frolic is this? It is like none of the gowns you used to wear.’ ‘No, my dear,’ crieth she, ‘it is no gown, it is the chemise de la rein’. ‘My dear,’ replied I, hurt at this gibberish, which I was half ashamed to own I did not understand; ‘What is it? You know I am not like you, master of French; let us have the name of your new dress in downright English.’  ‘Why then,’ said she, ‘if you must have it, it is the queen’ shift.’ Mercy on me, thought I, what will the world come to, when an oilman’s wife comes down to serve in the shop, not only in her own shift, but in that of a queen. (From Lady’s Magazine: Printed in The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh)

Well, at first I was thinking “Ah! This is the dress for me! It is fairly simple (and therefore quick) and looks very elegant.” But then I thought about three big deterrents: 1-the similarity of a simple white gathered dress to the clothing from the turn of the 19th century, when afternoon dresses were white and somewhat similar in character and style, 2-the amount of extra fabric needed for petticoats to achieve the soft draping of the skirt and 3-the two events I plan to wear this to (#1: a vintage ball, for which an elegant train would be entirely impractical and #2: an American Revolution colonial fair, for which I would be cold, have a train that would just get dirty, and a style of dress that is about 15-20 years in the future). Those arguments eliminated this style as a possibility, but I wanted to share it with you anyway, because I think it is lovely.

Here are some more examples of Chemise Dresses in various other paintings. (Also, take a look at the hats, aren’t they fabulous? They remind me of the scale of hats in the early 20th century. Can you see the resemblance?)

Comtesse de La Chatre by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, 1789

Mme Seriziat by David, 1795

Project Journal: 1780s Ensemble Part I: Initial Research

I’ve decided to attend 2 events in September which require clothing from the last quarter of the 18th century (1775-1799). This decision is rather at the last minute when it comes to building new historic clothes: I now have exactly three weeks to make a decision about what to wear, pick out fabrics, make patterns, and complete the construction of the garments. Yikes!

So I’ve been busy researching this period because it is not within the realm of my previous historic clothing projects, which have generally focused on the 19th century. Unlike women’s clothing in the 19th century, for which I can recall silhouette, construction details, pattern shapes, and fabric choices and colors with far less research for each garment (because I’ve already done all that research and it’s all in my head…), I really need the research to be able to consider reproducing historic clothing from the 18th century. Here are some inspirational images I thought I would share!

Here’s how this conversation went in my head: “Where do I start?” I asked myself. “Silhouette?” I replied. “Ah, yes. That sounds good. But… what is the silhouette during this period? Hopefully not panniers!” because panniers, you see, require a lot more effort to produce and a lot more fabric to cover. “Well, let’s start by looking for some images,” I suggested. And here we go!

c. 1770 Silk Robe a l'Francaise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Now, you can see by looking at the above image that these gowns require panniers to achieve the exaggerated hip shape. You can also see that these gowns are Robes a l’Francaise, meaning robes in the French style. This style of gown has the characteristic pleating at center back that falls from the back neck line to the floor in one piece. This style, with the panniers and the Robe a l’Francaise, is not what I have the time to make in three weeks. So we move on!

1770-1775 Silk Robe a l'Anglaise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In contrast to the Robe a l’Francaise, I am actually interested in the style of dress on the left: the Robe a l’Anglaise, or English style robes. This style evolved from the Robe a l’Francaise: over time the side back seams of the Robe al’Francaise were cut close enough together that the characteristic pleats were no longer used.

Below, you can see another two examples of gowns in the style of a Robe a l’Anglaise. These two are from the 1780s and you can see that the width of the hips has diminished from the 1770s. Note that all of these gowns have open fronts that show the petticoat underneath.

c. 1780 Cotton Robe a l'Anglaise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

c. 1780 Cotton Robe a l'Anglaise from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1780-1785 Cotton Robe a l'Anglaise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1780-1785 Cotton Robe a l'Anglaise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are other options for this period as well: there is the style Robe a la Polonaise, which has a characteristic  bunching of fabric across the back side as well as the skirt and jacket combination. I’m not interested in making a Robe a la Polonaise at this point, but a skirt and jacket combination is a possibility. You can see these styles below. There is another style as well: the Chemise Dress, but you’ll have to wait for my next post to see and read about it!

c. 1780 Linen Robe a la Polonaise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

c. 1785 Silk Jacket at the Metropolitan Museum of Art