I can’t do a post on Regency male fashion such as the one I published earlier this week without mentioning Mr. Darcy and his wet shirt incident.
You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen Episode 4 of the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries. Viewers gasped with delight when Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy emerged from the lake on his Pemberley estate with his wet shirt clinging to his chest.
That scene was described as "one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history" in The Guardian and it fanned the flames of a Jane Austen frenzy that continues to this day.
Here's a fun fact: screenwriter Andrew Davies originally wanted Firth to jump in the lake stark naked, which would have been more historically accurate. However, Firth insisted on keeping his clothes on - hence the wet shirt scene.
The only problem with this famous scene is that Jane Austen never wrote it. And if you think you can remember reading this scene in the book, you may be experiencing the Mandela Effect – a false, even though widely shared, memory.
The Mandela Effect got its name from many people “remembering” that Nelson Mandela died in a South African prison during the 1980s, when in fact he actually died in his Johannesburg home in 2013.
Other examples of the Mandela Effect include the false memories people have of hearing Darth Vader say “Luke, I am your father” in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back or the Evil Witch in Disney’s Snow White intone “Mirror, mirror on the wall.”
Darcy’s wet shirt aside, if you're the least bit curious about what Regency men actually wore, you'll want to meet Zack Pinsent. He is a confident young man from Brighton who has established a business crafting custom-made, period-perfect clothes, ranging in time from the 1660s through
But Pinsent's favorite historical era is the Regency. In fact, he's gotten to the point where he himself only dresses in Regency fashions.
Why does he love Regency style so much? Here’s his explanation:
“Clothes are social history,” says Pinsent in the video. And I couldn’t agree more!
Sources for this post include:
"Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy was 'meant to be naked'," Media Monkey BBC, Oct. 9, 2013
Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom, by Deborah Yaffe, Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston & New York, 2013
Images in this post courtesy of Wikimedia Commons