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Amateur Furniture Design

“Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp, and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley’s.”

Caroline Bingley asks Darcy to include her comments in his letter to his sister Georgiana in Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

What exactly does Caroline Bingley mean by her comment about Georgiana’s “beautiful little design for a table”? Though furniture could be purchased ready made at a furniture warehouse, many wealthy people of Jane Austen’s time had furniture custom made to fit a particular space or to a design they created or asked a furniture maker to create for them. Apparently Georgiana has created a design for a table and Darcy may well have a furniture maker create the custom piece of furniture. That Miss Bingley has seen the design implies that the drawing was sent to Darcy either for his approval or for him to have it made up or both. Continue reading Amateur Furniture Design

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Regency Children’s Clothing: Daywear and Playwear

Boys

Children's Clothing The boy’s costume here is known as a “Skeleton Suit” which would have been worn up to age 8 or 9, after which he might be put, a the beginning of the period, into breeches and waistcoat, with a relaxed long jacket. Later in the period, the boy of this age would wear a short, tailless jacket and long trousers, [the Eton suit], and this style continued throughout the 19th century and beyond. Boys were put into the skeleton suit at about 3 or 4 years old; before this they wore a frock, which sometimes makes for difficulty in distinguishing them from theirs sisters in portraits.

The skeleton suit was usually made of heavy cotton or linen, which were both practical washing fabrics. Blue was a favorite colour, but examples in pea-green and occasionally scarlet or mustard are also documented. Charles Dickens described, in 1838, some time after they ceased to be worn, “A skeleton suit, one of those straight blue cloth cases in which small boys used to be confined in ingenious contrivance for displaying the symmetry of a boys figure by fastening him into a very tight jacket and then buttoning his trousers over it so as to give his legs the appearance of being hooked just under the armpits.” Continue reading Regency Children’s Clothing: Daywear and Playwear

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Dressing the Part: Children’s Clothing in Regency

Children’s Clothing in Regency and how it evolved

For the first time in History, around 1770, children began to have clothes that were designed just for them; they were no longer dressed as miniature adults. This is very noticeable in portraits of the time, the adults still wearing stiff formal costumes, while the children appear relaxed and free; the boys in shirts which are open at the neck, the girls in simple gowns with a sash at the waist.

Many experts attribute this, at least in part, to the influence of Rousseau. In ‘Emile’, published in 1762, translated into English the following year, he dealt not only with methods of raising children, but also with their clothing. “The limbs of a growing child should be free to move easily in his clothes: nothing should cramp their grown or movement; there should be nothing tight, nothing fitting closely to the body, no belt of any kind. The plainest and most comfortable clothes, those which leave him the most liberty, are what he likes best.” How different from the boned and panniered dresses for girls and the satin suits for little boys of previous times. Naturally, this process was not an instant change, but by 1800 it had permeated all levels of society. The most significant fact is that what the children wore gradually became the model for adult clothes. Thus, a young girl born about 1770 would wear almost the same style until she was 50! The “trousers” which were part of the boys costume were almost universal by 1830 for adult males and are still their most important garment today.

princess Charlotte Later in the period, when skirts became shorter, girl’s nether garments began to be shown. In 1811, there is a description of Princess Charlotte, then 15 years old, talking to Lady de Clifford and “sitting with her legs stretched out after dinner and show[ing] her drawers which it seems she had and most young women now wear.” It was considered that the Princess was now too old for such a display, but she countered that the Duchess of Bedfort showed even more of her drawers.

In winter, dresses may have been made of wool, and flannel petticoats worn. The neck and chest were very much exposed in this style and spencers and tippets worn for warmth. Cloaks would be worn for traveling and shawls and stoles made their appearance for the fashionable child.

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