This is one of my male Regency wear posts, the introduction of which you can find here.
This post is focused mainly on the torso of the Regency gentleman. I’ve split it up into three parts (shirts, waistcoats and cravats) as there isn’t quite enough info for a whole blog post for either section.
The shirts that men wore in the Regency era are very iconic, they’re the typical loose-fitting, Romantic shirt that the poets wore. Think Darcy coming out of the lake.
There’s a stiff, standing collar to support the fancy cravats of the era. I’ve seen these fastened with buttons mainly, but you could also use a drawstring (bit more difficult) or just rely on a well knotted cravat to keep the shirt closed.
Under this collar there’s an opening that sits down about a third of the way down the shirt so you can easily get in and out, and this is hidden by the cravat and waistcoat, as Regency waistcoats tended to sit quite high.
The front main panel of the shirt is gathered at the shoulders to give that, loose, romantic feel. The sleeves are also gathered into the cuffs, which you’ll probably be able to see from under any Regency style jacket you might wear.
In this era, the cuffs tended to be smooth but you could probably get away with the more frilly, Georgian cuff if you wanted something more decorative.
Gussets are also a major part of Regency shirts so you can actually lift your arms in the shirt! There’s a brilliant tutorial for gussets which I found here.
Regency waistcoats tend to fasten very high up on the torso, unlike the waistcoats that are in fashion nowadays, and they can also have a high-standing collar to support the cravat. They also tend to sit horizontally along the trouser line, no points or curves along the bottom of the waistcoat.
There are so many tiny variations you can play with when creating waistcoats, so as long as you have a historical reference pretty much anything goes! It’s like the massive amount of suit variations we have nowadays, it’s a matter of personal preference.
This waistocat has a single line of buttons, a few of the top buttons undone to reveal the cravat, and a standing collar. It’s also in stripes, one of my favourite aspects of the Regency period. Men weren’t afraid of some good stripes!
(Another example of a very nice striped waistcoat.)
The one above appears to be for far more formal occasions with it’s silky material, but you can see the contrast with the style of collar and it has two lines of buttons instead of one.
Like most eras in menswear, the Regency period also emphasised the upside down triangle shape of a man, with the broad shoulders and slim waist. Some dandies even went as far as to wear corsets in order to achieve that exaggerated shape. What I’ve found online, however, is simply some clever tying at the back of waistcoat in order to accentuate that shape which I’d like to incorporate in my own make.
This is the first article that I’ll actually need a pattern for as I can get away with drafting my own shirt and cravat, but I have no idea where to start with a waistcoat! I’ve found three patterns online (links at the end of the post) that look as though they should be relatively easy to follow.
The ‘Country Wives’ pattern looks super simplistic, but there’s perhaps not enough variation there for me? I always like to get the most out of a pattern, and from the looks of it I could only create one simple garment from this pattern.
‘Reconstructing History’ patterns always show up when I’m looking for historical patterns, and I’m sure they’re great patterns, but I just can’t get over how ugly the illustrations on the front are. Every single time. And plus, they’re not even good illustrations, I don’t know what I’m buying and the shipping is always extortionate.
This one is probably my favourite pattern of the three, ‘Laughing Moon’ patterns always have an actual picture of the finished product which I love in a pattern, plus there are four different styles. It does say Georgian, but I think I could get away with these being Regency, with a couple of tweaks.
Neckties in the Regency era were just starting to stray away from the frilly Georgian things and moving towards the ties of the Victorian era. Above is a selection of ways to tie a cravat that I found on Pinterest.
The one above is the most iconic of the Regency era, I’d say. The ‘Gastronome’ according to the chart, but I’ve heard it mostly being referred to as the ‘barrel knot’. I’d need a tutorial on how to tie this one though!
This one looks like the easiest to tie, the ‘Cascade’. You could literally just tie a knot and then secure it with a fancy hat or tie pin.
Genuine tie pins from the era.
Tie pins available from Etsy.
I also like the little bow cravat too, but again, I wouldn’t know how to tie this one!
Here’s a super simple video I found on YouTube, it’s definitely for a more Victorian look, but with some tweaks (more fullness and longer?) you could probably get the look of the cravat above.
That’s all the info I can give you on the Regency gentleman’s torso! I know nothing about tailoring, so it’ll be interesting to try and make a waistcoat, but I’ll see what I can do!
Tea In a Teacup Regency Shirt Tutorial
Country Wives Waistcoat Pattern
Reconstructing History Waistcoat Pattern
Laughing Moon Waistcoat Pattern
How to tie Cravats (Tea in a Teacup again!) -They use photos to illustrate their points, so it’s super informative.
3 Ways to tie a Cravat -No photos, but it has a pretty simple explanation of how to tie a barrel knot.
The Art of Tying the Cravat: Jane Austen’s world