Regency Costume 101

This is not a detailed history of Regency Fashion but merely a guide to help with your Festival Costuming needs. See below for details of where to buy or hire.

For Girls:

Regency dresses are characterised by their Empire Line and are a marked contrast to the dresses of the mid eighteenth century with their panniered hips! The dress and attendant hair styles were meant to evoke the Classical Greek silhouette as all things Classical were the rage. White was the most fashionable colour for dresses but other pastel shades were widely worn and black for mourning. Bright spencers, pelisses and shawls were common and oriental patterns were very fashionable thanks to the East India Company and expeditions to the East.

The Essentials
A dress
A shawl/spencer/pelisse
Ankle boots or ballet pumps (pumps only for Balls)
A bonnet/turban/other kind of Regency hat

Less Essential
A fan
A reticule
Chemisette (small garment to fill the space between neckline and neck)

For Boys:

Men’s fashions were less subject to change in the eighteenth century but by the Regency Period long, silk waistcoats in various bright colours, lace trimmings and powdered hair were decidedly unfashionable. The Regency look for men was characterised by a very tailored silhouette and a more natural “English” look than the “French” fashions of the mid-eighteenth century. England was also at war for much of the Regency and consequently Militia, Navy and Army uniforms were a common sight (although a Gentleman would never wear boots in a Ballroom unless he was on duty.)

The Essentials
Breeches or pantaloons
Boots (for the Ballroom soft shoes similar to modern Ballet shoes)
Shirt (and collar)
High waisted waistcoat

Less Essential
Pocket watch

For children:

Children’s clothing was essentially smaller, simpler versions of that for Adults. The only distinct difference being that young boys wore short jackets without tails and before they were “breeched” both sexes wore a loose-fitting, sashed gown.

Costume Outlets:

To buy full costume and accessories from:

Allana Marsh
Historical Costume Maker
Offering a unique experience to create your perfect outfit. Bespoke costumes made to measure for both men and women.
T: 0789 630 5165

Antique Textiles and Lighting
(closed Monday and Thursday)
34 Belvedere, Lansdown Road, Bath BA1 5HR
Fine 17th to 20th Century textiles, probably the largest collection in the UK. Includes, lace and embroidery from the 16th Century onwards. 18th Century clothing, waistcoats and shoes. Fans, paisley shawls, beadwork and beaded bags. Silks, ribbons, quilts, tapestries and samplers.

Jane Austen Centre online giftshop 
Lots of patterns, also parasols, fans and short gloves, etc.

Niamh White
Super quick and great selection

Regency Regalia
Shown in dollars but is in the UK

To hire:

Bath Theatrical Costume Hire (Highly Recommended)
We use this hire company all the time, they are very helpful and their warehouse store is full of all sorts of costumes. Even though it is not in Bath, they are only 14 miles away by car and very close to Frome Railway Station for those without a car.

8 Wallbridge, Frome Somerset BA11 5JZ 01373 472786

The following hire company is situated further away in Worcestershire –

Complete Costumes
Complete Costumes offer a vast range of quality costumes available for hire and is quite unique in the fact that measurements are given for each one and booking a hire could not be easier through their secure website. They can also take bookings over the phone.

Complete Costumes
5 Chaddesley Road,
Worcs DY10 3AD
Telephone – 07505 212102

Where to buy Fabric and accessories in Bath:

The Guildhall Market, High Street, Bath – situated between Victoria Art Gallery and the Guildhall and close to Bath Abbey

Fashion Fabrics – Green Street, Bath

Husqvarna Studio, Charles Street, Bath


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