This is one of my series of Regency posts, the introduction of which you can find here.
Regency undergarments are a little bit more difficult as there were hardly any fashion plates, so the only information I’m getting is from reproductions and antiques that have survived from the period. But, in order to get the proper era silhouette, on must have the right garments. Especially if you’re wearing a white dress and one is able to see underneath on a summers day!
Chemises are good for both hiding what’s underneath you’re dress if it’s white or made of a particularly sheer fabric and it adds another layer of warmth in the unpredictable English weather.
All of the chemises above are reproductions. Note that the neckline has to be particularly shallow to go with the style of Regency dresses, and don’t forget the low back too! All of the chemises I’ve found have had gathered necklines and either no sleeves or very small, puffy ones to go under your dress. And from this tutorial you may even be able to add gussets to your sleeve, a very nice period touch as we hardly ever see gussets any more nowadays.
It really depends on you how long your chemise is, as some over dresses can be just above the ankle or trail on the ground. I suppose it’ll be better to have a shorter chemise so you could use it on all of the Regency dresses you collect over the years.
These are all from fashion plates, revealing the hem of their chemise or petticoat, and it just shows the variety that’s available, how much freedom you have when constructing your chemise.
I personally love this hem I found on Pinterest, and if you enlarge the picture you can see that those lines were HAND SEWN. That’s right up my alley!
I don’t know about you, but I’m wearing my own underwear, thank you very much. Historical underwear never seems like much fun.
Of course, they had garters back in the day as elastic still wasn’t invented.
If you’re willing to go all the way, you can create some really beautiful things, including garter belts and period-accurate tights. These are the prettiest ones I’ve found online but I have no hope of recreating them at my level of sewing!
Although white seems the most popular in both recreations and fashion plates, I have reason to believe that they also used other strong colours in the Regency period for their tights, including reds browns and blacks. As long as it fits with your outfit, I think you can get away with it!
Same with the underwear, though, I may just stick to some nice comfortable white tights.
Now this is the fun part! Regency corsets aren’t too constricting, and perhaps that’s why I like the era so much. It’s focused on the natural female form, so that means that one can breathe when dressing up in the era. There are two types of corsets worn in the Regency era; long and short.
The aim of corsets in the regency period was to ‘lift and separate’, as you may be able to tell from the pictures above. The busk in the full corsets helped this.
The busk is really obvious in the above corset. A ‘busk’ was a length of wood that helped the wearers posture and would control the stomach too, I imagine. If you want your corset machine washable, however, don’t use a busk or boning, or make it easy for them to be taken in and out.
This busk is available from AnotherEraByEmma on Etsy, showing the kind of thing you can buy nowadays, as well as one from Redthreaded, also on Etsy. Both of the corsets also have something called cording on them, which is a beautiful example of the time spent on these kinds of things.
Cording served to make the garment stiffer and control your body a bit more without having to use the strict boning that the Victorians used. I love this tutorial for cording which explains how it’s done and why, while this tutorial is simply a gorgeous example of patience married with period reproduction garments.
I’m drafting my corset from the above book, and I’ve also bought an instruction booklet for some extra support while sewing it.
I love this tutorial for corsets, and I also love this even though it isn’t a full-on tutorial.
Hope this helps some of you! Stay tuned for more Regency-themed posts!
This is a really nice Pinterest board to simply scroll through for inspiration. If a photo isn’t linked to, I probably got it from here:
Corsets and Drawers: A Look at Regency Underwear
Ladies Underdrawers in Regency Times: Regency Underwear
Corset Tutorial 1
Corset Tutorial 2
Cording Tutorial 1
Cording Tutorial 2