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Mad about Mob Caps

Caps of all shapes and sizes had long been in use by men and women as fashion accessories and protection from the elements. There was an added benefit to the Regency miss, which Jane Austen wrote about to her sister,

“I have made myself two or three caps to wear of evenings since I came home, and they save me a world of torment as to hairdressing which at present gives me no trouble beyond washing and brushing, for my long hair is always plaited up out of sight, and my short hair curls well enough to want no papering.”

The mob cap or mob-cap is a round, gathered or pleated cloth (usually linen) bonnet consisting of a caul to cover the hair, a frilled or ruffled brim, and (often) a ribbon band, worn by married women in the Georgian period, when it was called a “bonnet”. Originally an informal style, the bonnet became a high-fashion item as part of the adoption of simple “country” clothing in the later 18th century. It was an indoor fashion, and was worn under a hat for outdoor wear. During the French Revolution, the name “Mob Cap” caught on because the poorer women who were involved in the riots wore them, but they had been in style for middle class and even aristocracy since the century began.

Marie Antoinette c. 1792
Marie Antoinette in an oversized mob cap, c. 1792

By the Victorian period, mob caps lingered as the head covering of servants and nurses, and small mob caps, not covering the hair, remained part of these uniforms into the early 20th century.

Raimundo_Madrazo_-_La_Toilette
Note the cap on the lady’s maid, as well as her misteress’s fancier cap on the toilette table, in this painting, by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta (1841–1920) La Toilette, painted between 1890 and 1900 (but showing a scene from the Georgian era, based on the clothing)

 

Historical information and photos from Wikipedia.com

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Make A Mob Cap

Make a mob cap

The Mob Cap, synonymous with the early American “founding mothers” Martha Washington and Betsy Ross, was actually a fashionable accessory worn by many women throughout the Georgian Era. Named for it’s association with the French “mobs” of that Revolution, it could be as exquisite or serviceable as the the wearer could afford or require.

The Washington Family. Martha, at right, in her decorated "Mob Cap".
“Washington’s Family” by Edward Savage, painted between 1789 and 1796, shows (from left to right): George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis, Martha, and an enslaved servant: probably William Lee or Christopher Sheels .

 

Jane Austen, herself, was fond of caps and wrote to her sister,

“I have made myself two or three caps to wear of evenings since I came home, and they save me a world of torment as to hairdressing which at present gives me no trouble beyond washing and brushing, for my long hair is always plaited up out of sight, and my short hair curls well enough to want no papering.”

So, how do we make a mob cap?

To make your own cap, here’s a video by ‘Modesty Matters’. It’s simple without embellishment but is a great starting point. Have fun.

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Create a Faux Bandeau

The Bandeau hairstyle was favored throughout the Regency as a throwback to ancient times. Here is an easy way to “fake” the look of this period court head piece using a modern headband. Traditional etiquette for presentation at court required white ostrich feathers to be worn, but getting them to stay in place could be tricky!

Court Dress, 1799
Court Dress, 1799

To create your own headpiece, you’ll need:

  • one fabric covered hairband (satin or velvet works nicely)
  • some feathers of various sizes
  • fabric glue
  • jeweled brooch.
louisapeacock
The “Louisa” style hairband is available in custom colors from Austentation.com
  1. Pin your hair up in your preferred style and slide the hairband into place.
  2. Pin the brooch onto the hairband where you want your plumes to begin.
  3. Experiment with your plumes to find the perfect arrangement.
  4. Remove the band in order to attach the feathers.
  5. Dip the ends of your plumes in fabric glue and slide into place behind the brooch. The pin should cover the ends of the feathers.

Viola! A lovely Regency look in just a few minutes! Don’t have time or resources to create your own? Order a custom made “Faux Bandeau” from Austentation.com

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The Bandeau: Hairbands, Regency Style

The Bandeau: Hairbands, Regency Style

During Austen’s era, fashion leaders looked to the past for inspiration. Anything that resembled ancient Rome or Greece was bound to be popular, from sandals and nymph like gowns, to short hair cuts for ladies, like the Titus or Brutus.

The woman in this painting from Pompeii wears a narrow ribbon bandeau.
The woman in this painting from Pompeii wears a narrow ribbon example.

One accessory that remained popular from the late 1700’s through mid 1800’s, was the bandeau (plural=bandeaux). The name comes from the French word for “strip” and  involved wrapping ribbon, pearls or a length of fabric though one’s hairstyle, or around one’s head (sometimes even the forehead). The result was often styled “à la Grecque”, no doubt heightening it’s appeal all the more.

Continue reading The Bandeau: Hairbands, Regency Style

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Maxims for Health and Gracefulness

fankncas
Cassandra Austen’s sketch of her niece Fanny.

In 1833, Lydia Marie Child published The Girl’s Own Book, a volume full of entertainments for girls of all ages.

She closed her book with a few maxims on child rearing involving both the moral and physical aspects of raising young ladies. Although they may sound quaint and dated, mothers of the Regency. Child rearing has always been considered a woman’s domain, and mothers of this era, with its burgeoning middle class, read countless books on subjects ranging from household management to cookery. Topics their mothers were either too busy or too idle to concern themselves with.

Any number of spoiled children can be found in the pages of Jane Austen’s works, from the heir to Norland Park, to Mrs. Musgrove’s rambunctious grandchildren. We never get to see the children of Austen’s heroines, but they would, no doubt, have been raised in this new era of motherly awareness.

MAXIMS FOR HEALTH AND GRACEFULNESS.
Early rising, and the habit of washing frequently, in cold water, are fine things for the health and the complexion.Walking, and other out-of-door exercises, cannot I much recommended to young people. Even skating, driving hoop, and other boyish sports, may be practised to advantage by little girls, provided they can be pursued within the inclosure of a garden, or court ; in the street, they would of course, be highly improper. It is true, such games are rather violent, and sometimes noisy ; but they tend to form a vigorous constitution ; and girls who are habitually lady-like, will never allow themselves to be rude and vulgar, even in play.

Shoes and garments for children should be quite large enough for ease, comfort, and freedom of motion. Continue reading Maxims for Health and Gracefulness

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Changing Tastes in Georgian Jewelry

Georgian jewelry was made between 1714 and 1830 during the reigns of the four English kings named George. Varying styles of jewelry were produced during this period.

The styles moved from Rococo during George the first’s reign through Gothic revival and Neoclassical (hearkening back to the Greek and Roman empires). Neoclassical styles reached their height during Napoleon’s reign. Neoclassical was all the rage in both England and France. Napoleon funded extensive excavations at Pompeii creating a vogue for the Neoclassical as more Roman houses and artifacts
were revealed.

All Georgian Jewelry was handmade. This was a period of discovery and innovation. Glass paste copies of real gems were developed as well as a substitute for gold called “pinchbeck” named after its inventor. The early Georgian fashion called for the use of large stones set in an elaborate rococo style.

Cameos, intaglios, mosaic, acorns, the Greek key, Urns, Doves, Phoenix, Wheat, and plumage were all popular Georgian motifs.


Men wore more jewelry in those days than is the custom presently. Miniatures, tiny portraits of a loved one, were already popular. A man’s locket with a secret became a fad during the reign of George III. The first ‘lover’s eye’ locket miniature may have been commissioned by Mrs. Fitzherbert for the Prince of Wales after their secret marriage in 1785. These lockets contained a painting of the eye area and a wisp of hair drooping across the forehead. This miniature was both intimate and anonymous.

Large jewelry in the form of bracelets, index finger rings, girandole earrings, memorabilia jewelry, crosses, hair combs, buckles, aigrettes, and tiaras were favored in Georgian
times. Dog collars or chokers as we call them today were popular in the period 1770 to 1790.

A wreath tiara similar to this one was purchased for Princess Charlotte’s wedding. Parliament granted the Princess the sum of 10,000 pounds for jewelry at her marriage in 1816. She purchased “a most superb wreath of brilliants, forming rosebuds with their leaves, a diamond fastener for her manteau, a diamond cestus, ear-rings, and an armlet of great
value, with a superb set of pearls from Rundell, Bridge & Co.”

At the beginning of the Georgian period diamonds were used to the almost total exclusion of other stones. To meet the increased demand for white stones in the first half of the 18th century, paste, rock crystal, marcasite, and cut steel were employed with increasing sophistication.

Originally, rhinestones were rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine. The availability was greatly increased when around 1775 the Alsatian jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass had the idea to imitate diamonds by coating the lower side of glass with metal powder. Hence, rhinestones are called Strass in many European languages. Strass is known as the creator of the best and most long lasting paste jewelry. Most paste and rhinestones are simply leaded glass made in colors and cuts that mimic gemstones. Because leaded glass has such a nice luster it gives a look similar to a gemstone, particularly at a distance.

Paste diamond imitations made it possible to make inexpensive copies of the real thing to guard against theft by highwaymen. Diamond alternatives were soon produced with such quality that it was entirely respectable for even royalty to wear them.

At this time diamond cutters were introducing exciting new types of gem cuts such as rose cut, cushion, and ‘brilliants’. In the 1750’s colored stones came back into vogue. Then emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were worn again along with new stones like white-imperial-pink topazes, amethyst, chartreuse chrysoberyl, coral, ivory, pearls, and garnets.

Lava, shell, onyx, and carnelian became popular with the introduction of carved classically themed jewelry. This Neoclassical style began with the discovery and excavation of Pompeii in the mid 1700s. Finds there greatly influenced fashion, architecture, interior design, and philosophy and literature. Cameos became very popular after Napoleon had antique Roman cameos placed on his coronation crown for his 1804 coronation.

Bezels, foilbacked stones, low flat goldwork, and cobalt blue and black and white enameling are common features of Georgian jewelry. Georgian pieces can sometimes be detected by the way the stones are mounted. Unlike the open work favored today for gem stones, Georgian gems were often set over gold or silver foil with their backs enclosed with metal as rhinestones generally are today. In more recent jewelry foil backing always indicates a fake stone.

Gold with high karat content was preferred. However, Berlin iron made in that city from 1806 was popular during the Napoleonic Wars as a show of patriotism. Pinchbeck a cheap replacement for gold was used for faux pieces.


Given the uncertainty of life and the state of medicine in those days, it is no surprise that memorial jewelry was common. However, it was not yet such a major force as memorial or hair jewelry was to become by Victorian times when the overcrowding of cities, poor sanitation practices, and plagues would take a terrible toll on families. The strands of hair in this pendant are believed to be Jane Austen’s, taken by her sister Cassandra just before her coffin was closed in 1817.


Reprinted with permission Sharon Wagoner, Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical
tour through Regency London!

Additional information from Wikipedia

“Charles has been buying gold chains & Topaze crosses for us…” – Jane Austen

complete any outfit with this beautiful Topaz cross

  • Inspired by the necklace that Charles Austen gave his sisters in 1801.
  • 18K white gold plated pendant and chain.
  • 5x8mm Yellow Topaz stones with a 4mm White Topaz centre stone.
  • Pendant measures 32 mm x 23 mm
  • Chain measures 47cm / 18″.
  • Comes in a delightful gift bag.
  • The finishing touch to your Jane Austen costume.

 

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A Jane Austen Christmas Ornament

This adorable ornament makes a great gift for the Jane Austen addict in your life. It’s simple to create and once you have the pattern down, fun to modify– try creating your favorite hero or heroine!

You will need:

  • One plain, wooden non pinching clothespin (sometimes called a dollpin)
  • Printed pattern pieces: click here to download
  • 4”x4” square of felt
  • Small bit of curly doll hair
  • 12″ each Narrow Lace trim and narrow ribbon
  • One small feather
  • Black paint, paintbrush
  • Black fine tipped pen
  • Red fine tipped pen
  • Gold thread and needle
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Craft glue or glue gun (preferred)

Instructions

  1. Paint Jane’s shoes black. Add her eyes and mouth with pens, once paint is dry.
  2. While paint is drying, cut out pattern pieces. You will need one skirt and two arms.
  3. Glue lace trim to bottom edge of skirt.
  4. Wrap skirt piece around Jane’s body and glue in place. Run a bead of glue down the underside of the seam along the back to fix the fabric in place.   Hem should end slightly above her shoes.
  5. Wrap narrow ribbon around her waist about 1/4″ down from her neckline. Tie ribbon in a bow at the back
  6. Glue arms in place at shoulder height. Glue a feather or feather shaped bit of felt in one hand to represent a pen.
  7. Wrap narrow lace around her neck and shoulders and tie at ribbon-belt height, trim ends creating a fichu or scarf look.
  8. Roll doll hair into a slight ball with a few curls hanging down the back. Glue in place so that there are a few curls in front as well.
  9. Tie small piece of ribbon around her hair to act as a bandeau or headband.
  10. Thread your needle with gold thread. Sew a loop on the top back of Jane’s gown and knot, so that she can now hang as a Christmas ornament.

 

Complete Clothespin doll kits are were designed for and available from Austentation: Regency Accessories. You may also visit our Giftshop to view our entire line and purchase your favorite Austen couple!

Available kits include: Lizzie and Darcy, Emma and Mr. Knightley, Anne and Captain Wentworth and Marianne and Colonel Brandon. Each kit contains the instructions and materials needed to create one male and one female doll as well as the Jane Austen variation found here and instructions for an alternate male costume (either officer or gentleman, depending on the kit purchased.)