Monday, 30 May 2011

Empire Line Dresses

Regency Ball Gown
From the 1800s to around the middle of the nineteenth century, women wore fewer clothes than ever before. Influenced by graceful, classical Roman and Greek styles, the high-waisted dress became very popular during the 19th century.

By the time of Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule in France, it was known as the Empire waist, or Empire-line dress, and was the mode of dress worn in the Regency period of 1811 to 1820. Dresses often resembled a full length, thin nightdress, with a low neckline, or décolleté. The ‘waist’ of the dress was actually under the bust and the material then flowed in a narrow column to the floor.

During the day, women wore light, plain muslin dresses, even in winter. They often wore a pelisse outdoors, which was a cross between an over dress and a light coat, buttoned down the front, often shorter to display some of the dress beneath. Dinner dresses were sometimes of velvet or satin, while evening gowns were cut square and low at the bosom. Some dresses were trimmed with frills or rolls of the same material.

A very romantic time, when women’s figures were less constricted by hoops and bustles!



Jude Johnson said...

Sounds so much more comfortable than the Victorian ribcage-binding unnaturally shaped corsets and hoop skirts. What brought about the drastic change in what was deemed "proper dress"? Do you think it was all Victoria's doing or was it a societal backlash to the Napoleonic influence?

Linda Kage said...

I always wondered if they got overheated in the summer, but never worried about ladies getting cold in the winter, but it probably went both ways, huh?

Thanks for the facts!!

I finished Dangerous Deceit this weekend and LOVED IT! Made me want to read more regency romance stories. I just love how each little glance was so important. Thanks for the great read too!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Jude - thanks for leaving a comment. Fashion was such a changeable thing from decade to decade that there were probably lots of reasons. Certainly during Victoria's period outward appearances were more circumspect (even furniture legs were covered at times!).

I think the farthingale was meant to partly give women more freedom of movement beneath the volume. And new prosperity brought more money for all that material. It's an interesting subject.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Linda - thanks for coming over! I think you're correct and it did indeed go both ways - too hot in summer, cold in winter.

Thank you so much for reading and enjoying Dangerous Deceit. I'm so relieved you liked it!

rex danim said...

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