Bergère, poke and cottage are all types of Regency bonnet.
“The proliferation of terms used to describe millinery of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries can be overwhelming. This book provides an introduction to the many styles of headwear fashionable in this period. Additionally it explores the millinery trade, as well as contemporary construction techniques.”
With the publication of Bergere, Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear, Serena Dyer, an accomplished seamstress who specializes in period reproductions, has gathered several of the most common hat and bonnet styles of the Regency and brought them together in this charming little book. I’ve been sewn literally hundreds of Regency Bonnets in the 12 years since I’ve opened my shop, and I found the information in her book fascinating! Not only does she devote a section to the different styles of bonnets popular during Jane Austen’s era (complete with details about materials used and hand drawn illustrations for each style) she includes a further section on milliners and seamstresses of the time, giving details about their working conditions, shop supplies, services and even pricing. Quoting from fashion journals, private diaries and even period shop accounts, it’s clear that she’s done her homework and has a lot to offer. Despite it’s small size (28 pages), this book is a fun and informative read for anyone looking to know a bit more about Regency bonnets and style.
This book would also give fantastic background information to the author looking to place their Regency heroine in a milliner’s shop (one of the few “acceptable” occupations for a woman at the time)
Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers’, but I have never seen any of them in hats… Elizabeth has given me a hat, and it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty style of hat too. It is something like Eliza’s, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon. I flatter myself, however, that you can understand very little of it from this description. Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to explanations as to give a clear one on any occasion myself! But I must write no more of this. . .
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Queen’s Square, Bath
June 2, 1799
If you had to choose only one fashion accessory with which to represent the entire Regency period, no doubt it would be the Bonnet. Large and small, close and wide, they came in an array of sizes and styles, each season bringing newideas and new requirements of what it was to be “Fashionable”. Fashion magazines of the day seemed never to tire of describing this brim and that cockade, and the colors! Where Puce was once reigned supreme, Jonquil now led the way. Or so they would tell you.
One such period book advises, “it is well to avoid the two extremes [of fashion] into which some people are apt to fall. The one is an entire disregard to the prevailing taste, and the other is a servile submission to its tyrannic sway. A medium course is the only sensible one, and, in this, good sense will dictate how far to go, and where to stop.”
As you can see from the following fashion plate and historic gown and bonnet, simple decorations were often the most tasteful and appropriate. The addition of simple trim (make your own or use grosgrain ribbon or bias tape) and lace along with a few ribbons can turn a plain bonnet into a lovely summer chapeau.
Of course, simplicity and moderation did not always rule the Regency, as a look at a few more period fashion plates and examples of the period Regency bonnet will show you! Click on the Right fashion plate for full size details. Both fashion plates are from Costumes Parisiens, 1812.
To trim the crown with fabric, use a long strip of fabric, an inch taller than your crown. Fold one long, raw edge under, and baste in place around the crown. Fold over the short edge to make a finished seam up the back and baste in place over the matching raw edge. Fold the remaining long edge over and run a gathering stitch along this line to pull the edges together. Tack in place. You might also wish to add a small square of matching fabric under the hole created by the gathered fabric, or sew a rosette over this spot. Pleating the fabric before basting it on gives a rounder look, which is lovely in sheer cottons.
To create the ruffled ribbon trim seen on the cream and green bonnet, run two lines of gathering stitches down the center of a length of wide ribbon. Pull the threads to create a long gathered line. Tack in place and add an extra row of trim over the gathering stitches to hide them. In general, 3-4 yards of ribbon, a bunch of flowers and berries or fruit, and a few feathers will turn a plain bonnet into a thing of beauty.
The Eliza (A Poke Bonnet)
Trimming the Eliza is nothing but a joy. A few yards of ribbon wound around the crown creates a lovely period look. Take it a step farther by cutting an 18 inch circle from your favorite fabric. Run a gathering stitch around this and pull it tight to fit the crown of the bonnet. Tack in place. Wrap a length of ribbon around the crown to cover the raw edge and finish it off with ribbon bows and ties. 3-4 yards of ribbon will give you plenty with which to work.
The Cottage Bonnet
The Cottage bonnet is another adorable style of Regency bonnet. Trim it with simple ribbons and feathers or rosettes and ties.