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Monday 11 February 2013

Regency evening wear - a tale in ten dresses

The Regency period lasted from 1811 to 1820. These ten Regency evening dresses show how fashions changed during those nine years and how by the end of the Regency, the flowing Grecian styles were gone and frills and flounces had become popular.


1st row:
1. Evening dress from La Belle Assemblée (Apr 1811)
“A robe and petticoat of white satin” with “a light green drapery of crape, fastened on the left shoulder with an amber or cornelian brooch” and a “Turkish turban of green crape”.

2. Evening costume from La Belle Assemblée (Jan 1812)
“An amber crape dress over white sarsnet” with “a demi-train” and a “light short jacket, rather scanty” and hair dressed “in the antique Roman style” with a “demi-turban formed of plain amber satin”.

3. Evening dress from Ackermann’s Repository (May 1813)
“A celestial blue satin slip” and a “Polonese long robe of white crape, or gossamer net” with hair “in irregular curls, confined in the Eastern style, and blended with flowers” and a “Grecian scarf, a pale buff colour, embroidered with shaded morone silks”.

2nd row:
1. Evening dress from La Belle Assemblée (Mar 1814)
“A white crape, or fine muslin petticoat, worn over white satin, embroidered in silver lama” with a “bodice of olive, or spring-green satin, ornamented with a silver stomacher” and an “occasional scarf of white silk, richly embroidered”.

2. Evening dress from La Belle Assemblée (Feb 1815)
“Pale pink or primrose-coloured crape petticoat over white satin, ornamented at the feet with a deep border of tull, trimmed with blond lace and pink, or primrose-coloured ribband, festooned and decorated with roses" with a "French scarf".

3rd row:
1. Saxe-Cobourg robe for evening full dress from La Belle Assemblée (Mar 1816)
“The robe of pink, worn over a white satin slip flounced with crape, finished by blond” with a “bridal veil, fastened with a brooch of pearl and pink topazes” and a “muff formed of white satin and gossamer silk trimming”.

2. Ball dress from La Belle Assemblée (Nov 1816)
“A white crape frock over peach coloured satin, beautifully finished round the border with tulle, blond, and garlands of roses” with a “wreath à-la-Flore round the hair”.

3. Evening dress from La Belle Assemblée (Mar 1818)
“Castilian robe of pearl grey sarsnet, elegantly trimmed with pink satin, interspersed with crape and velvet” and a “fichu of the finest net, left open in front, and surmounted by a deep Spanish ruff, standing à-l’Elizabeth” with a “crown turban of white satin, net, and pearls”.

4th row:
1. Ball dress from La Belle Assemblée (Jan 1819)
“Frock of scarlet gauze, brocaded with white silken flowers, worn over a white satin slip” with a “head-dress consisting of either a beautiful tiara of pearls, or a fancy ornament of downy plumage, or of frosted Italian frivolité” and a “bonnet de Ture, composed entirely of white ostrich feathers”.

2. Evening dress from La Belle Assemblée (Mar 1820)
“Round dress of black crape, over a black satin slip” with a “demi-train, and ornamented round the border with three fluted flounces of crape” and “the head adorned with the regal coronet turban”.

Ackermann, Rudolph, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (1813)
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée (1811-1820)


  1. What about decolletes in evening gowns? I notice some very chaste and some very low necklines in the pictures you posted.

    Which one could be considered tolerable and which was scandalous?

    1. It is interesting to see how the necklines varied, isn't it? Ladies wore low necklines in the evening but clearly there was considerable variation in the designs. I would assume that all the above dresses were acceptable though I imagine that how decent they appeared would depend upon the wearer's figure!

  2. Love them. Thanks for posting these.

    1. I enjoyed putting the pictures together. I find it really helpful to see how fashions changed over the period at a glance.