Posted on

Dressing for the Seaside

During the Regency, seaside resorts sprang up all along the coast of England. Brighton was particularly popular due to the distinction given it by the Prince of Wales. Sidmouth, Weymouth, Lyme and even the fictitional Sanditon are all now easily recognized names which bring to mind crowds of beautifully dressed Regency ladies and gentlemen (and Officers!) enjoying a promenade by the sea. Naturally, sea-bathing, only one of many activities to be enjoyed at a Seaside resort required its own attire (generally a simple muslin shift) but one had also to be fashionable when appearing in public at all times. The following illustrations from period fashion journals show typical “Bathing Place” attire. Bathing Place Dress, 1810, from The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashion, and Politics. This unusual outfit features lace-trimmed pants as an undergarment that shows beneath the simple button-up-the-front dress. The laced sandals show the Greco-Roman influence on dress. Author Stella Blum writes that the “Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, commonly known as Ackermann’s Repository, after Rudolph Ackermann, its publisher …. first appeared in London in 1809 as a monthly publication. Although not primarily a fashion periodical, the pages it devoted to clothes were valid fashion plates since they were meant to inform the ladies of the latest styles and to serve as a dressmaker’s guide. By the time it ceased operations in 1829, the magazine had included some 450 fashion prints.”   Seaside Bathing Dress, 1815, from La Belle Assemblee, or Bell’s Court

Want to read the full article?

Sign up for free Jane Austen Membership or if you are an existing user please login

Existing Users Log In
Sign up here to become a Jane Austen member
*Required field