Here’s me in my back garden, playing at being a Georgian. Why? Well, thanks to the wonderful people at Huzzar, 6th of July is now dress like a Georgian day!
It’s significantly harder to find early Georgian clothing than Regency. What’s more, the outfits themselves require more effort. No simple muslin dress and spencer jacket will do – you need panniers! The hair is also tricky. Rather than a simple bonnet and curls, you want powdered hair – the bigger, the better. As you can see, I’m cheating by wearing a wig. However, I would LOVE to try the real thing. Check out this amazing post which shows Poppy Baker getting the full treatment. Poppy manages well on her own too, with all varieties of backcombing and powdering. I wish I had her talent.
If you’re not going for a towering hair-do, you also have the option of lace caps and beregres. I’m wearing a beregre in this photo – customised with yellow roses – which I purchased from Marion May. Marion has some amazing designs for the Regency and is starting a Georgian clothing line, so keep an eye on her website. My hat is suitable for promenading in the park, but for indoor wear I will really want a lace cap. I’m purchasing one by Duchess Trading on Etsy. You can view an example here – you will see how closely the designs echo the caps worn by George II’s daughters.
While I’m on the subject of Etsy, I have to say it’s been the most useful marketplace for Georgian supplies! Ebay is nowhere near as good. I bought my charming lemon and sea blue gown from Araby Designs and my panniers from Corsets and Costume. For those of you that don’t know, panniers were huge cage-like contraptions, sort of like a sideways crinoline, that held the gown out from the body and made it difficult for women to pass through doors. They were often made of whalebone. Again, I’m cheating and not going for the authentic outfit. My panniers are half-length, pocket panniers. This means rather than having a full length pannier and a separate set of linen pockets tied around my hips, I have panniers that have a secure bottom and a slot in them for me to keep my belongings. But pockets and panniers weren’t the only things Georgian ladies would conceal beneath their dresses. Queen Caroline donned a shift of Holland linen, a quilted dimity petticoat and stays with silver hooks before she even thought of putting on her crimson whalebone hoops. No wonder the court was described as a place of “sweating and stinking”.
What I haven’t attempted in my little garden party is cosmetics. However, I’ve made some purchases and will be perfecting my craft in time for my appearance in full costume at the Festival of Romance. LittleBits – again, on Etsy – does a great range of powder, pomade, rogue, scent and velvet patches, all made to authentic period recipies. What more could a lady ask for? The main smells are citrus, lavender and clove. Georgians also favoured ambergris and musk. I’m attending a workshop at Hampton Court about Georgian scents this month, so I’ll report back and tell you more about the things your nose would encounter at the Georgian Court.
A pair of silk or woollen stockings, complete with garters, is another essential item for any respectable lady. I was particularly excited to find these clocked stockings. In contemporary sources, you come across lace clocked stockings again and again, but these are the first I’ve found to purchase. And of course, when your foot is clad in fine silk, you need a shoe to slip it into. Sarah Juniper’s designs are pricey, but also the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Ever. Another accessory you need is a nice pair of gloves. I have a sweet white crocheted pair made by my great-grandmother. I thought I was wearing them in the photo but it seems I forgot them! Whoops. Never mind, I will take more photos in future and show you the pretty little things.
I hope I’ve given you a little taste for the Georgian outfit and maybe even inspired some of you to join us in dressing up like a Georgian! Of course, I’ve focused on women’s wear, but if my male readers are feeling left out, they might like to visit Pimpernel Clothing. Stunning tailored waistcoats and jackets, along with an authentic cologne! Oh, it’s good to be a Georgian.