Happy "glamorous" Sunday! I'm so glad you could join us this fine morning on day 4 of Novel Fashion Week . This hour's designer is House of Jane Lark presenting her Collection: Scandalous Fashion of the 1800s', by way of Buenos Aires! The runway song is Gabrielle Aplin - "The Power of Love".
Que the Runway Song:
Jane Lark, author of Illicit Love, explores the scandalous beginnings of the
‘nude’ Regency fashion.“Nude?” I hear you echo, “What? In the 1800s? They weren’t anywhere near nude.
Scandalous fashions came in, in the 60s, didn’t they, mini-skirts and hot-pants, and free
love, and all of that?”
Well, that depends on your point of view.
So let me whizz you all the way back to the early 1800s, when women had been wearing
costumes liked this;
For the last several years.
But then came, the French Revolution, when the people, the poor, of France, had had
enough of the pompous aristocracy, all walking about in their yards of embroidered
fabrics, and huge wigs.
When the French wealthy began being guillotined, aristocracy all over the world
changed; afraid their more-perfect-than-you appearance, might encourage riots.
It sent a new fashion travelling across the courts of Europe and beyond; one which
ceased hiding a woman’s natural attributes, but sought to make her look more natural,
and stand out less. Dresses lost their padding,
Then they began reducing the quantities of fabric, too. “In 1788 Betsy Sheridan
mentioned in a letter that she needed twenty-two yards of fabric for a poplin gown and
petticoat. By 1798, Jane Austen was already wondering if 7 yards would do for her new
dress” and so these more slender dresses, hugged a woman’s figure even more
This is when the style began to be called ‘nude’.
To make the change to this, new look, seem, less from fear of revolution, and more from
choice, the new style became a revival of the classical dresses found on the Roman
and Greek statues, all over Europe, and explored by gentleman who had travelled on
the continent for years on what they called ‘grand tours’.
But as styles turned to making yourself appear statuesque, the fabrics became
diaphanous white linen, which was a very fine, figure hugging fabric.
They were see-through, and yes some women did wear them without petticoats, and
some scandalous women, from a particular group, who liked to flirt, a lot, even wet their
dresses to make them cling. And we thought the mini skirt daring, no wonder they called
this fashion ‘nude’.
But there was another reason this fashion had this title, imagine then, not only wearing
these gorgeous dresses at a ball, but what about when you were out walking in the day,
promenading with a man you wanted to admire you.
Well if the wind had caught your skirt in the Georgian period, your skirt would certainly
never have hugged your hips, but once the padding was gone;
And once the fabric had reduced and changed to this very light muslin.
Then what happens when you are bending, as the fabric clings to your figure.
Perhaps that one is not so bad, and more alluring, but…
But woman of this period had another issue with this fashion for such flimsy fabric - they
didn’t wear any underwear - would you believe - they were all commando, which meant,
well, when they sat down or walked around, or the wind blew, well, the fabric might get
caught in some rather embarrassing places.
Now we can see exactly why this fashion was titled nude, and considered scandalous
initially - until it became the norm for everyone to be ‘nude’ :D
So all wealthy women went from wearing this;
In a matter of little more than five years, is there any wonder men thought women naked.
Anyway, I have to quickly share the story of women’s drawers too (Regency knickers),
now I am on the Regency fashion subject. They had been invented in the 1800’s but
were only worn by prostitutes, would you believe, and considered indecent to the
aristocracy, better to be bare down there, than wear such things, but then drawers didn’t
cover up a lot until the 1900s. In the 1800s, they were basically two sides, bound
together by tape at the top. Below is a picture of a pair from the late 1800s, and by then
all women were wearing underwear.
Well that’s the end of my quick tour through the scandalous fashion of the Regency
period, which my novel, Illicit Love, is set in. And, the heroine, Ellen, does wear drawers,
because she is a courtesan ;) And courtesan’s, and many men in the 1800s believed in
free love, too, you’ll have to read my history blog to discover those stories.
The story of, Illicit Love, is for people who like to fall in love, through a book, it’s a heart
wrenching story, of people fighting against the odds to be together, while the world is
seeking to hold them apart, and don’t let the historical setting put you off, it’s merely a
painted back drop, like in a film.
Pictures provided courtesy of The Museum of Fashion, Bath, United KingdomThe Novel Highlighted:
by Jane Lark
Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his
oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his
dissolute desires. She i
s empty––a vessel––deaf to the voice of morality and blind to
When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she
imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to
But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her, and her subconscious
whispers, this man could be her salvation. Yet how can he help her when she has
secrets which prevent her freedom?
Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life—it is his only excuse for
being drawn to another man’s mistress. The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are
striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan
with an illicit intent in her eyes.
Once he’s known her, he cannot forget her, and once he’s seen the evidence of her
supposed benefactor’s brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not
run any more than she will speak of her past?
When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn’t
hesitate, he helps her flee .He just doesn’t know he’s running headlong into the secrets
of her past.
Can love redeem a life of sin?
The House of Jane Lark:
Jane is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional love stories.
She began her first historical novel at sixteen, but a life full of adversity derailed her as
she lives with the restrictions of Ankylosing Spondylitis.
When she finally completed a novel it was because she was determined not to reach
forty still saying, I want to write a book.
Now Jane is writing a Regency series and she is thrilled to be giving her characters life
in others’ imaginations at last.
Jane is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development, and
uses her knowledge of people to bring her characters to life.
‘Basically I love history and I’m a sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in
love; it’s wonderful being able to do it time and time again in fiction, and my
understanding of people helps me write the really intense relationships I enjoy
developing. I like writing characters who will capture your attention from the moment you
open my book.’
I have some lovely long handled bags printed with the Illicit Love cover, a bumper sticker, key ring and mug, I'd happily give away one of each of these and a signed copy as a set to the winner!
THIS IS AN US & International GIVEAWAY!
Ends 8/11 @ Midnight
See you on the next Catwalk!