Friday, July 20, 2012

Remembering Ribbons: Regency Era

Detail of a portrait of Marcia Fox, by Sir William Beechey

Remembering Ribbons Series
~ The Regency Era (1811-1820)

The Regency era embraced these lovely lines of silk,
velvet and satin in every aspect of their feminine dress…

In fact, the popularity of the ribbon was one of the
catalysts of the Industrial Revolution
which took place between 1750 and 1850.
Picot Edge Ribbon (Photo Source)

In 1813, the picot-edged ribbon enjoyed the stage in the Regency Era for two solid years.

Picking Flowers for Posy by Charles Haigh-Wood

Ribbons were worn around the head like a Grecian woman would have in ancient history...

Painting by Charles Haigh-Wood

Many times in a double ribbon look, wrapped twice…

For if one was pretty, then two were real nice.

Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence

They were used to secure their bonnets and hats by tying them under the chin.


They would decorate the hats themselves.

"We wore white frocks and had white ribbon in our straw bonnets…"

~ Description of the bridesmaid's of the wedding of Anna Austen,
written by a younger sister of the bride, niece to Jane Austen

How pretty and appealing they are in pink.

Portrait of a lady by Henri Fran├žois Mulard, ca. 1810

Ribbons were also tied around the waists of dresses which

gave a carefree and romantic look.

Ribbon Embroidery on Hem (photo source)

They were used as a trim to embellish the "empire" waist gowns

and were also utilized in the form of beautiful ribbon embroidery.

Band of Ribbon on Hem (photo source)

Hems were decorated with bands of ribbon which added tasteful and dainty detail.

Jane Austen wearing her ribbon at bonnet and waist.

Lastly, when we think of the Regency Era,

we can not forget to consult dear Jane on the subject…

"Ribbon trimmings are all the fashion at Bath. . . . I have been ruining myself in black sattin ribbon with a proper perl edge; & now I am trying to draw it up into kind of roses, instead of putting it in plain double plaits." 
~ Jane Austen, Excerpt from letter to sister Cassandra

It is also interesting to note that in her novel, Emma,
ribbon was actually spelled (though since has been updated)
r i b a n d…

Emma by Jane Austen (An Illustration by C.E. Brock)

"Harriet had business at Ford's. Emma thought it most prudent to go with her." 
"How do you do, Mrs. Ford? I beg your pardon. I did not see you before. I hear you have a charming collection of new ribbons from town. Jane came back delighted yesterday. Thank ye, the gloves do very well—only a little too large about the wrist; but Jane is taking them in." 
~ Jane Austen, Emma
Mrs. Elton to Mr. Knightley: "That's quite unnecessary; I see Jane every day:—but as you like. It is to be a morning scheme, you know, Knightley; quite a simple thing. I shall wear a large bonnet, and bring one of my little baskets hanging on my arm. Here,—probably this basket with pink ribbon. Nothing can be more simple, you see." 
~ Jane Austen, Emma
"He [Frank Churchill] could say no more; and with the hope of Hartfield to reward him, returned with Mrs. Weston to Mrs. Bates's door. Emma watched them in, and then joined Harriet at the interesting counter,—trying, with all the force of her own mind, to convince her that if she wanted plain muslin it was of no use to look at figured; and that a blue ribbon, be it ever so beautiful, would still never match her yellow pattern. At last it was all settled, even to the destination of the parcel." 
~ Jane Austen, Emma
"Should I send it to Mrs. Goddard's, ma'am?" asked Mrs. Ford.—"Yes—no—yes, to Mrs. Goddard's. Only my pattern gown is at Hartfield. No, you shall send it to Hartfield, if you please. But then, Mrs. Goddard will want to see it.—And I could take the pattern gown home any day. But I shall want the ribbon directly—so it had better go to Hartfield—at least the ribbon. You could make it into two parcels, Mrs. Ford, could not you?" 
~ Jane Austen, Emma
Swarovski Crystal Regency Ribbon Necklace
"The ball was now a settled thing, and before the evening a proclaimed thing to all whom it concerned. Invitations were sent with despatch, and many a young lady went to bed that night with her head full of happy cares as well as Fanny. To her the cares were sometimes almost beyond the happiness; for young and inexperienced, with small means of choice and no confidence in her own taste, the “how she should be dressed” was a point of painful solicitude; and the almost solitary ornament in her possession, a very pretty amber cross which William had brought her from Sicily, was the greatest distress of all, for she had nothing but a bit of ribbon to fasten it to..." 
~ Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

"Yet so miserably had he conducted himself, that though she was at this present time (the summer of 1814) wearing black ribbons for his wife, she could not admit him to be worth thinking of again."
~ Jane Austen, Persuasion

Incidentally, black ribbons were also worn in the Regency Era as a sign of mourning (note the passage of Persuasion above).

Here is a lovely way to incorporate the feminine ribbon into your wardrobe today.

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