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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches and Ruffled Shirts II

What's Wrong With This Picture/Excerpt?

In Part I, we discussed Regency men's clothes. Although the era saw the birth of modern menswear, Regency clothing is not exactly the same. Errors abound in many romances. In this post we'll discuss three common errors in the portrayal of the Regency gentleman’s wardrobe.

What's wrong with Gorgeous Gentleman #1's clothes? The problem is his shirt. Men's shirts didn't button all the way down the front until the end of the nineteenth century. The front was open to about halfway down the chest, much like a present-day man's polo shirt. There may or may not have been one or two buttons to keep the collar closed. And a gentleman always wore a cravat to keep his shirt top closed.

The only way GG#1 could show off that great set of washboard abs in a historically correct shirt was to pull the shirt over his head. Or, the heroine could tear it off him in a fit of passion--the modern version of the bodice ripper.

The shirt GG #2 is wearing is correct. But what's wrong here? His shirt is correct, and our hero even has ruffles at his cuffs (oh, I do like ruffles on a man!). The answer--GG #2 is wearing a belt. Regency men held up their breeches (generic term for what they wore on their lower bodies) with braces, also called suspenders.

My third example is a passage from Miss Lockharte's Letters by Barbara Metzger:

"And I saw you trying to corner her in the choir loft. If you ever managed to keep your pants buttoned, we wouldn't be in half this mess."

The error here? The word "pants" is an Americanism, first found in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, around 1840, according to An Englishman would refer to the garment as "trousers". And if he were in the presence of a lady, he would call them his "unmentionables", if he referred to them at all.

I found lots of pictures of gorgeous gentlemen as I searched for images for this post. But I hit the jackpot with GG#2. Unlike some writers, I don't use a picture of an actor or model as inspiration for my hero. But when I saw GG#2, I knew I had found Richard, the hero of Lady of the Stars, my Regency time travel and 2010 EPIC EBook competition finalist.

GG#2's hair is a little too long, he's wearing that belt, and he would never appear before a lady without a cravat, waistcoat and coat (jacket). I like to think he's in his bedchamber, early the morning after he met Caroline, the heroine. He's thinking about her, and already falling in love.

And here's our Happily Ever After.

Thank you all,


Nancy said...

Maybe #2 isn't wearing an ordinary belt at all but a belt holding his scabard for his sword, which he has momentarily laid by.I do think swords are much more romantic than firearms.
An enjoyable and instructive blog.

Penelope said...

Hi Linda! I'm not sure I find ruffles all that masculine, no matter how alpha-hot the hero is. I haven't read Lady of the Stars yet, but I'm adding it onto my TBR pile.

Happy Valentine's Day!

susied said...

Thanks for posting this, it was fun. I went back and had to read part one with pictures of Mr. Darcy in my head :)

Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Linda! I write in the Victorian era, but always have my hero loosen his braces first and then have the heroine help him pull the shirt over his head.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Excellent blog, Linda! It's those details that really bring history and romance to life.
I do like your Richard!

Clover Autrey said...

I don't write historicals, but I found this very interesting and something to keep in mind.

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--sometimes I wish I wrote Regencies. But the errors you point out would be the death of me. But I can write the way they spoke and a few mannerisms--it's just those clothes! Now I can read a Regency and look for mistakes in clothing! Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Ah, like the shirt Heath Ledger wore in Casanova! I think they should bring those back. Very sexy. ;-)

Linda Banche said...

Nancy, you may be right. I never thought of a sword belt. Although, he isn't wearing braces to hold his breeches up.

Happy Valentine's Day to you, too, Penelope. Ruffles were on dress shirts, like a man's formal shirt today has pin tucks down the front. Shirts are a whole story unto themselves, and they'll get their own post. And I think you'll like LADY OF THE STARS.

Glad you had a good time, susied. Part 1 was fun, too.

Thanks, Susan. You have the right idea. I don't know how many Regencies I've read where the heroine unbuttons the hero's shirt, and then pushes it off over his shoulders. Nope.

Hi Lindsay, and thanks. I appreciate my Richard, too. Like the title says, Gorgeous Men.

Thanks, Clover. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Celia, since you write historicals, too, you know how hard it is to get all the details right. Speech and mannerisms are part of the mix, and another thing we all have to work to get right.

Mary Ricksen said...

I doubt that many people are concerned with whether a cover is factually correct.the want a good book to read, that's all for the most part.Good luck with sales!
Lady of the Stars was fantastic!!! Honest!!

Heather Snow said...

Interesting stuff, Linda. Very enjoyable...the information AND the pictures :)

Linda Banche said...

Hi Loraine, yes, they got the shirts right in Casanova. They were still wearing similar ones in the Regency.

Mary, I agree. A cover is a marketing tool, designed to get the readers' attention. And those covers definitely attract attention.

And I'm so happy you liked Lady of the Stars. Thanks.

Thanks, Heather. I enjoyed the pictures, too. *g*

Loreen Augeri said...

Thanks for the info on shirts. I thought they only had a few buttons and went on and off over the head, but then I read books where the shirts were buttoned all the way down the front. I wasn't sure which was correct.

Loreen Augeri

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda,
Great post very interesting. I write historicals but not
Regency, and nothing annoys more than historical inaccuracies. I have to say I like the tight breeches, could live without the ruffled shirts though.


Linda Banche said...

Hi Loreen, glad to be of help.

Margaret, I like historical accuracy, too, that's why I look up these things. But if you don't care for ruffled shirts, don't read a story set in the Georgian era, the era before the Regency, when the men wore powdered wigs, makeup, and high-heeled shoes!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Linda, I loved your post. I also hate inaccuracies in novels, and they occur in all genres. Writing Regency must be doubly difficult with the clothing and the titles. Yikes! How do you keep it all straight?

Linda Banche said...

Thank you, Caroline. I do my best to keep my stories accurate. At first, trying to remember everything was difficult. But now that I know more, some things have become second nature. And I have tons of links!

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Oh, Linda, thank you for pointing out these anachronisms. You covered a bunch of my pet peeves. I do wish authors and cover artists would get it right. All we can do is keep educating them, I guess

Linda Banche said...

Thanks for coming over, Lesley-Anne. I guess you're right. We Regency authors have to keep pointing out errors.

Jen Childers said...

HI LInda,

Research! People don't realize how much of it we do.
One really good book I read had the hero riding from Louisiana to Washington and back to LA in 3 days.
That had to be one fast horse!
I still like the poofy sleeves and old fashioned shirts. CAll them pirate shirts, guys don't like the word poofy.
love to all,