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HomeHistorical BooksAGE OF ELEGANCE ... by Susan Stokes-Chapman

AGE OF ELEGANCE … by Susan Stokes-Chapman

My final weblog put up centered on Georgian jewelry, the crowning glory of any outfit. Of course, whereas these ending touches have been undoubtedly all-important we can not ignore the precise fashions of the period these stunning jewels enhanced, and the way tailors and dressmakers drew on the class and grandeur of the traditional world.

It was the Enlightenment that began it! The Age of Enlightenment was an mental and philosophical motion that dominated Europe within the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, creating beliefs of residing centred on the worth of human happiness, the pursuit of information (obtained by cause and a vindication of the senses), in addition to thoughts of liberty and progress. This motion inevitably led to the admiration of classical civilisations comparable to Rome and Greece, which started to translate into fashions most usually related to the Regency interval.

Women’s trend misplaced the inflexibleity of corsets and embraced as a substitute neo-classical trying clothes. Dresses have been designed to make women silhouettes seem elegant and slender, with flowing materials and waistlines that clung beneath their breasts (often known as Empire Line), whereas males’s fashions took on the lean and statuesque traits of the Grecian hero.


It is straightforward to see why the Ancient World was so beneficial. With the arrival of archaeology and lots of stunning finds changing into out there for public consumption, the class of the imagery actually drew the attention. Men have been clear shaven, with attractively curling hair and powerful athletic our bodies to stir virile masculinity, and the ladies have been smooth-skinned, fantastically coifed, and all the things swish – the epitome, then, of the ‘very best’ human being. 

© Victoria and Albert Museum

© Victoria and Albert Museum

The first Grecian-style robes have been easy shifts made from muslin. Other supplies have been used as properly, however muslin dominated the style plates. These robes had little or no form to them – form was as a substitute achieved with the tie below the breast that created the long-lasting Empire Line everyone knows at this time. This fashion gave a variety of freedom and luxury to the wearer because the clothes have been gentle, wanted little or no underpinning and have been worn with flat sneakers – no heels to make your ft damage! Shades of white have been the principle color of selection, and infrequently pale pastel colors have been worn through the day whereas darker colors got here within the type of shawls, trims and tunics tipped with gold have been typically worn over a plain gown, and actually gave the look of Greek and Roman styling.

Such outfits have been accessorised with reticules, a few of which loosely echoed the form of a Grecian urn, and hoods which paid homage to the Grecian caul, a material or web that lined the hair in an elongated form on the again:

To veer again to jewelry briefly, one specific accent got here into trend – tiaras. They have been obvious in portraits on the time, however if you happen to contemplate too the mosaics and pottery found from digs in Greece and Rome comparable to these depicted beneath, you possibly can perceive why tiaras grew to become notably trendy:

Further, cameos have been the extra apparent accent that acknowledged the Ancient World. In 1805 the Journal des Dames wrote: ‘a fashionable lady wears cameos at her girdle, cameos in her necklace, cameos on each of her bracelets, a cameo on her tiara.’ Below is a portrait of Queen Louise Augusta of Prussia by French portrait maker Madame Le Brun, depicting one such cameo on her tiara.

The English potter Josiah Wedgwood made a killing from his jasperware depicting classical scenes. Below is a belt clasp mounted in lower metal frames with Matthew Boulton’s faceted metal studs, which exhibits the picture of a priestess making a sacrifice. Georgian ladies (and a few males) typically wore cameos like this.

© The Walters Art Museum

And talking of priestesses, within the beneath portray of Lady Hamilton (one other by Le Brun), Lord Nelson’s mistress is depicted as a dancing priestess. The layered garment and patterned underdress may very well be each Regency gown or Grecian gown, the likeness is so shut! Note within the background Mount Vesuvius is erupting – the excavations of Pompeii have been one other supply of the Georgian’s fascination with the traditional world.

For males, there was rather less frippery required. Gentlemen wore breeches made of material that stretched comfortably throughout the legs which accentuated their form, and skin-tight pantaloons gave the virile look of the a lot admired classical statues. The dandy Beau Brummell (backside determine) believed that the purpose of males’s trend was to ‘dress the physique that its fineness be revealed’.

Of course, not all physique shapes are the identical! For ladies, even when they have been of a extra ample determine the Empire Line clothes have been nonetheless very flattering, however for males who have been a bit of extra scrawny and didn’t possess the muscular curvature so admired of Grecian heroes, many had no qualms about becoming themselves with false curves, as this caricature beneath depicts!

There are so many issues to say about Georgian trend, however for the aim of this weblog I merely needed to spotlight the visible similarities between Regency fashions and the traditional world. Personally I actually really feel they have been on to one thing, and I feel it excessive time the fashions of the interval made a comeback. They have been elegant, regal, cool in the summertime, and flattered everybody irrespective of their form and measurement – what extra may you doable ask for?

My Georgian-set debut novel Pandora acknowledges this obsession with the traditional world, and you’ll order by clicking the picture beneath:


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