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Showing posts from January, 2014

Beau Brummell’s Enduring Influence on Men’s Fashion

There have always been and always will be dandies – men who follow fashion and take an active interest in how they present themselves to the world. However, the Regency produced one of the most influential and famous dandies of all time, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell. 19th century portrait miniature of Beau Brummell. I'll bet this was painted near the height of his fame; he looks awfully pleased with himself! (Wikimedia Commons) Though he was accepted and imitated at the highest levels of London society, Brummell was no aristocrat; he was the son of a government clerk. But he had exquisite taste in clothing, as well as the sense to make friends with the Prince Regent after obtaining a commission in the Prince’s regiment, the Tenth Light Dragoons.   Brummell's  influence on men’s fashion, both during the Regency and afterwards, was immense. His ideas were novel for the time in which he lived. He insisted on wearing clothes that were well tailored but otherwise

Regency Rules of Mourning

The long-anticipated fourth season of the hit BBC series Downton Abbey premiered last week in the U.S., and the first episode revolved around Lady Mary’s grief at losing her husband Matthew (who inconveniently crashed his car on the same day his son was born at the end of Season 3). We were told at the outset of the episode that six months had passed since Matthew’s death, and it was hard not to notice the unrelenting black of the clothes Mary wore. She was dressed according to the dictates of mourning etiquette, a practice which extended back to the Regency period and even further. During the Regency era a woman whose husband had died would wear black for at least a year. Her gowns would typically be made of black bombazine, a heavy material, or a lighter black silk crepe. If you were an aristocrat like Lady Mary, your mourning clothes would be made by a fashionable modiste, based on the latest French fashion plates.  Women who could not afford to have mourning gowns