Mr Bingley No.2 – Dressing Hubby for Jane Austen week!

Following on from last week’s post about creating a budget/starter gentleman’s outfit for the Jane Austen Grand Regency Promenade, we can move on via the stockings to the waistcoat and tailcoat.  Yes, I did say stockings.  If you choose knee-breeches rather than long trousers for your Bingley get-up, then you will need some lower legwear that recreates the silk or woollen stockings worn in those days.  And if you intend to go to a ball in the evening, they will be essential!  For a great starter stocking you can’t beat the microfibre thigh-high hold-up ones sold by the million on Ebay for less than £2.00.  Opaque white will look superb, although you may have some trouble (depending on his inclinations) persuading your Mr Bingley to don such attire…

Pretend Silk Stockings edit
A Regency lower leg!

For the evening, avoid your riding boots and find a pair of plain black leather shoes from a charity shop or thrift store suitable for the attachment of an ornate buckle – the above were Clarks, hardly worn from a charity shop for a couple of pounds.  I found a belt in another charity shop consisting of ornate links joined by a chain, just asking to be converted to shoe buckles!  The effect is wonderfully decadent, perfect for the corrupt but beautiful Georgians.

Moving up leads to two wardrobe essentials which no Regency gentleman can be without – apart from convention and etiquette, the cut of a man’s waistcoat and tailcoat revealed quite a lot about his habits and income.  The tailcoat style underwent many developments from the late eighteenth century to the last years of George IV’s reign, but for the ‘Jane Austen Regency’ era it is quite flexible, the main elements to include being a tall collar, no backseam (unlike a modern tailcoat) and a fairly long arm.  There are plenty of patterns available for making your own, but allow plenty of time because there is a lot of tailoring involved.  I decided that I didn’t have time to make one, and I was extremely lucky to find one for sale on Etsy which had been used as a theatrical costume.  It’s beautifully made and was an astonishing bargain for about £50.  One of the features of Regency fashion was a high-cut coat front exposing an inch or two of waistcoat, which should have a level front unlike the earlier pointy ones.  Hubby’s waistcoat was my big tailoring debut; I bought a pattern from Rocking Horse (many Regency garment patterns available) and dug out some glorious fabric which came to me years ago from Harrods via my sister’s Mother in Law; the Prince Regent himself would have adored it, the weave is tropical birds, palm trees, pineapples – think Brighton Pavilion in jacquard…

Regency Waistcoat
Regency waistcoat – Brighton Pavilion design…

Although it looks quite simple it took several weeks to make, and that was without the optional pockets!  Some sources suggest that a waistcoat should have self-covered buttons, others vary.  I had no suitable buttons so tortured the fabric onto those patent self-cover metal things from craft shops.  Murder for the fingernails…

Waist and Tailcoat close up
Regency era tailcoat.  (A gentleman ought really to keep his gloves on…)

Next week I’ll do the easier bits – the shirt (vital in more ways than one!), the accessories and you should be well on the way to a perfect Dandy!


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