Monday, 27 June 2011

Grace Elliot: Why the Regency is romantic - Satins and silks

Hello, and thank you to Lindsay for welcoming me to the HFE blog!

Recently I asked myself what it was that made me, a professional working woman, go all gooey at the thought of the Regency. I came up with several answers but today I’m going to share my thoughts about regency dress sense.

As a modern woman I take equality for granted, but the girly side of cant resist the allure of the silk gowns and gorgeous fashions of the Regency period.

“Mrs Powlett was at once expensively and nakedly dress’d.”

Jane Austen in a letter to her sister.

How much more sensual can you get than wearing a fabulous silk chemise next to the skin? And how daring were drawers with no gusset (even if this was for the decidedly unromantic purpose of making chamber pot use easier.) Not to mention stockings held up by silk ribbons - ripe for an experienced male hand to slip undone.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with that essential Georgian and Regency article the hat. Even this item is romantic – a wide brimmed bonnet shaded the face, preserving that perfect ivory complexion, whilst the addition of a veil spoke of mystery and hidden identity. And then there was what you headwear revealed about you. A woman wishing to be taken seriously might wear a lace cap, ribbon trimmed bonnets spoke of innocence and ostrich plumes or turbans proved you a regency fashionista.

And then the gowns!

Gowns for every occasion and time: morning, walking, riding, evening and ball gowns. And the gorgeous fabrics: whisper thin muslin, clinging lawns, semi-transparent cottons, whispering silks and luxurious satins. Each gown high waisted with a tiny bodice, the wearer’s stays cunning thrusting the bosom upward so make a maiden seem a siren.

And then the act of getting dressed…or undressed!

Designed to make the wearer helpless with lacings and rows of tiny buttons down the back, again the scope for seductively undressing the heroine is mouthwatering, and the equally evocative risk of being caught half dressed just as tantalizing.

What do you think? Would you like to live in the regency or are you happy to savor it from a comfortable distance? Do share you thoughts in the comments below.

EXCERPT – A Dead Man’s Debt.

Easing kid leather slippers from aching feet, she rolled down her stockings, the air cool against her bare skin. Stretching her toes Celeste hoped that from sheer fatigue, if no other reason, she might sleep well for the first time in a month.

A cursory tap and, without waiting for a reply, the door opened.

“Evenin’ Miss.” Amy bustled in with a lighted candlestick, the faint aroma of boiled cabbage clinging to her skirts. “I thought as yer’d be needing this- sitting in the gloom an’ all.” Protecting the flickering flame with a cupped hand, she placed the candle on the dresser, the licking flame deepening the shadows.

“Thank you.”

“There’s a chill in the air Miss. Would yer like a fire set?”

“No need. I intend to retire directly.” With a humph Celeste struggled to reach the row of tiny pearl buttons at her back. “But please help me off with this gown. Honestly! Why fashion dictates such impractical garments is quite beyond me.” Only in her heart Celeste knew that women of her station were destined to be helpless.

“But if yer had yer way Miss, us lady’s maids would be out of a job.”

“I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

Amy’s fingers worked nimbly down the delicate fastening until the silk sheath slackened and whispered to the floor. Celeste braced against the bedstead as Amy tugged at stay laces until the knots gave way and Celeste filled her lungs for the first time all day. How she ached to sink between cool linen sheets, her eyelids pleasantly heavy, closing under their own weight. In a chemise Celeste stretched and arched her back, shaking away stiffness.

“Shall I brush yer hair Miss?”


With a sleepy nod Celeste settled at the dressing table. The weight of the chignon pulled at her scalp and it was sheer bliss as Amy deftly plucked out the pins, releasing the thick chestnut curls to tumble down about her shoulders…

[A Dead Man’s Debt is available from most eBook retailers including Amazon, Fictionwise and Smashwords.]

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Solstice Publishing:



Author Bio.

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats, acting as housekeeping staff to five mischievous moggies.

Grace believes intelligent people need romantic fiction in their lives as an antidote to the modern world and as an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work. Her debut novel ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is now available from most eBook stores including Amazon, price $2.99.

To find out more visit

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