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Friday, March 20, 2015

Spotlight on Regency Fashion: the pelisse

By Donna Hatch

Ladies in Regency England had more reasons to change clothes than the modern-day woman would ever believe. They had special clothes for relaxing at home, walking, riding, going for a drive in a carriage, afternoon gowns, evening gowns, ball gowns, etc. And the number of accessories is even more mind-boggling.

But one of the Regency ladies' fashion accessories was practical as well as fashionable. It was the pelisse. Generally lightweight, Regency ladies wore this long over-garment to protect her clothes from dust and dirt. Since many roads were unpaved, walking and riding in a carriage produced dust and dirt that would sully a gown. And since fashionable ladies often wore white or light colors as a status symble, keeping clothing clean in a not-so-terribly clean environment must have proved challenging. Big cities such as London were even dirtier with all the soot polluting the air from burning coal.

Wearing a pelise became an indespensible part of fashion, as well as a necessary garment, outside one's home. Though pelisses didn't generally take the place of a warm coat or cloak, they also added a layer of warmth in the event the weather took a sudden turn.

I have additional pictures of pelisses and gowns on my Pinterest Regency and Jane Austen Page.

Donna Hatch is a noted Regency researcher, enthusiast, and historical romance author. You can visit her website at
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