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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches and Ruffled Shirts

Today we'll talk about men's clothes in the Regency era, which occurred about two hundred years ago in England. This post is a primer on the subject, because I'm no expert. But in order for my stories to ring true, I must know how to dress--and undress--my hero.

Our modern world began to take shape in the Regency. Many facets of the era are recognizable to our eyes, including men's clothes.

Here’s a list the Regency gentleman's wardrobe, and the modern equivalent, as close as I can find: (I apologize for the ragged table, but blogger is not cooperating.)




undershirt--no equivalent




belt--no equivalent

boxer shorts--drawers

trousers--breeches, pantaloons, trousers (the Regency gentleman had 3 lengths)

socks--stockings (not quite the same)



Fabrics of choice were wool and linen because they were produced in the British Isles. Imported fabrics, like silk, and our everyday workhorse material, cotton, were luxury items and used mainly by the rich.

Here's a description of male attire from my Regency time travel, Lady of the Stars. The twenty-first century heroine, Caroline, gets her first good look at the Regency hero, Richard:

Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle.

This passage illustrates another aspect of Regency men's clothes: they were tight. A man's coat often fit so closely he needed help putting it on, and then he might be unable to lift his arms as high as his shoulders. Form-fitting breeches literally left little to the imagination. Then, as now, such clothes could look good only on men with the best physiques, like romance novel heroes.

The Regency hero--a handsome man with a great physique and gorgeous clothes. What a fantasy.

Thank you all,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this brief intro - just the type of list to check quickly and not get bogged down with reading further tidbits and ending up... well, researching rather than writing! ;-)
Oh, how I bet those tight breeches pleased the ladies!

Tiffany Green said...

I really enjoyed your post! No wonder Regency is my favorite era. We must not forget the leather gloves and walking sticks the gentlemen favored.

Donna Hatch said...

Your hero sounds delicious! I wish men wore their jeans skin tight nowadays instead of loose. Nice posting on all the complicated layers of clothing men wore. Little wonder they needed a valet!

Linda Banche said...

You're welcome, Steph. I'm sure tight breeches then had the same effect tight jeans have today!

Thanks, Tiffany. Oh, yes, I missed some things. I plan on a whole post on accessories.

Yes, Donna, my hero is gorgeous. In my next post, which is a follow on to this one, I have a picture of him.

peggy said...

Wonderful interview.tight form fitting cloths does draw the eye.

Linda Banche said...

Thanks, Peggy. Yes, tight clothes are certainly eye-catching.

Joyce Moore said...

Linda: I liked the way you listed Modern and Regency, so we could see the quivalent (those of us who don't write Regency). Enjoyed the post, as always.

Linda Banche said...

Thank you, Joyce. I was confused, too, when I started writing Regency. Nothing like a little crib sheet!

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