Ever since I saw the BBC’s 5-hour Pride & Prejudice miniseries when I was 9 or so, I’ve been enamored with gowns from the regency era. They’re so beautifully simple, yet incredibly flattering. I especially love how versatile they are. The waist is just under the bust, but after that, there are a lot of variables that can be played with. Add another skirt—make it short, long, longer, or shorter. Add another bodice. Long sleeves, short sleeves, or both. Drawstring neckline or not. That list right there gives enough possibilities for an entire wardrobe.
The miniseries shows a lot of muted colours; beige, white, pale yellow, and baby blue, with some brightly coloured overcoats. It turns out, though, that the era was nowhere near as muted. The only reason we think it was is because all the extant samples are all faded out.
The regency era was right about when brightly coloured paints dropped in price and became available to the middle class, and they went flat-out crazy with them. By modern sensibilities, a regency room might have made your eyes bleed while simultaneously inducing a seizure.
Despite this colourful research, I opted for a more reserved palette. I’m not very interested in extravagant colours, but I do love subtly detailed pastel hued fabrics. I made two dresses; one using vintage fabric from the 60’s or 70’s, and the other using something new from Fabric Land. I used some satin scraps for the bodice in one, and the trim on the other.
I used Sensibility’s Regency Gown pattern. I can’t speak highly enough about her patterns. Especially since she has a wide enough variety of patterns to easily create an entire, widely varied Regency wardrobe from the undergarments out. These patterns are immaculately researched, easy to use and follow, and all around wonderful.
These dresses are quite similar. The only differences are the skirts; one is far fuller than the other, owing to the vintage fabric being very narrow and limited.
All photos of me taken by the lovely Hannah P. Photos from the BBC miniseries are courtesy of The Costumers Guide.