Every day, we put on our clothes, and take them for granted, yet so many things about them are amazing.  The number of different ways that we have to fasten them, for a start.  Most of which did not exist in the Regency Era.

So today I’d like to talk about that for a bit. Here’s a list of things that we have now, that did not exist then:

  • Zippers
  • Elastic
  • Velcro
  • Press Studs (invented 1885)

You can start to see how that might limit things.  And that no elastic thing… that means no stretch fabrics either.  Some fabrics were flexible, with some give inherent in the way that they were woven, but most were completely non stretch in all ways.

So – what did they fasten their clothes with ?

  • Buttons and Toggles
  • Lacing
  • Hook and Eye fasteners, hand made from wire
  • Brooches
  • Pins
  • Loop and post Split corset busks
  • Buckles

They actually had quite a choice – but all of these options were fiddly, and many, like pins and brooches, were pointy and quite likely to stick into the wearer if they moved the wrong way!

It was not uncommon for a ladies gown to be cut to so close a fit in the bodice that she was pinned into it, or actually sewn into it when she put it on to wear! That sort of thing gives you an insight into why ladies of the nobility needed ladies maids to help them dress!

Equally challenging, was a dress where the firmness of fit was achieved with a row of very closely spaced small buttons down the back.  That would be hard enough to do up by yourself at the best of times, but, when you were already wearing stays or corset, which rather changes what movements are easy, it became almost impossible to do for yourself.

Next time you look at a picture from the Regency Era, look closely – can you see how the clothes are fastened? Next time you get dressed yourself, consider how your clothes would be, with no elastic, no press studs, no zippers and no Velcro – would everything you own no longer work?

When reading your favourite books, this may make you look at the heroines in a new light!.