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Friday, April 24, 2015

A New Book on Regency-Era Fashions

©Cheryl Bolen

As an author of historcial books, I have found Jody Gayle's first book, Fashions in the Era of Jane Austen, an invaluable research resource. I have it both in print and ebook. Now I am delighted to have her newest release, Fashions in the Era after Jane Austen. Discerning readers won't find dramatic differences in the two eras since they are separated by just a few years. The first book covers 1809-1820; the second, 1821-1828.

Ms. Gayle has given us another gem. She goes directly to the source: Ackermann's Repository of the Arts, a popular woman's magazine in Georgian England. Moreover, each of these stunning fashion prints is accompanied by its original text, carefully presented with sometimes-archaic spellings that lend (if possible) even more authenticity.

"The illustrations need to be described in the language of their time," Ms. Gayle writes in her preface. "The words add a whole new depth to the illustrations and, most importantly, a glimpse into the culture."

I concur. One particularly vital reason for including these rather comprehensive written descriptions is that they describe what types of fabrics were used in each facet of the dress. This is of immense importance to historical writers.

In addition, each hairstyle depicted is described. Here's an example: "The hind hair is arranged in braids and bows, which do not rise much above the crown of the head. The front hair is brought very low at the sides of the face in light curls: the forehead is left bare, with the exception of a single ringlet in the middle. A coral wreath is placed rather far back."

Fabrics of gloves and shoes are also given, as well as explanations of jewelry worn.

An added bonus for us historical writers is little plugs—with locations—of various tradespersons associated with the dress.
The above is an illustration of Ms. Gayle's first book next to my last mass-market paperback, used to illustrate the size of Ms. Gayle's books.

The oversized paper-bound book features just about one hundred fashion plates, and these include morning dress, promenade dress, wedding dress, evening dress, ball dress, carriage dress, head dress (which features multiple prints of head wear), full dress, walking dress, and garden costume. The prints in this new book are of considerably higher quality than the ones in the first.

I am indebted to Ms. Gayle and to my fellow author of historical romance, Candice Hern, for making this book possible: Ms. Gayle, for dedicating herself to unearthing publications from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and bringing them to life; Candice, whose wonderful website inspired Ms. Gayle's passion for early nineteenth-century fashion.—Cheryl Bolen, whose newest release is Duchess by Mistake, a House of Haverstock book

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