Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches & Ruffled Shirts

Today we'll talk about men's clothes in the Regency era, which occurred about two hundred years ago in England. This post is a primer on the subject, because I'm no expert. But in order for my stories to ring true, I must know how to dress--and undress--my hero.

Our modern world began to take shape in the Regency. Many facets of the era are recognizable to our eyes, including men's clothes.

Here’s a list the Regency gentleman's wardrobe, and the modern equivalent, as close as I can find:




undershirt--no equivalent




belt--no equivalent

boxer shorts--drawers

trousers--breeches, pantaloons, trousers (the Regency gentleman had 3 lengths)

socks--stockings (not quite the same)



(I apologize for the ragged table, but blogger is not cooperating.)

Fabrics of choice were wool and linen because they were produced in the British Isles. Imported fabrics, like silk, and our everyday workhorse material, cotton, were luxury items and used mainly by the rich.

Here's a description of male attire from my Regency time travel, Lady of the Stars. The twenty-first century heroine, Caroline, gets her first good look at the Regency hero, Richard.

Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle.

This passage illustrates another aspect of Regency men's clothes: they were tight. A man's coat often fit so closely he needed help putting it on, and then he might be unable to lift his arms as high as his shoulders. Form-fitting breeches literally left little to the imagination. Then, as now, such clothes could look good only on men with the best physiques, like romance novel heroes.

The Regency hero--a handsome man with a great physique and gorgeous clothes. What a fantasy.

Thank you all,


Linda Banche

Regency romance--most with humor, some with fantasy, and occasionally a paranormal

Lady of the Stars--A legend spanning time, and the man and woman caught in it--Regency time travel, available from The Wild Rose Press


Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating post, Linda! Very interesting indeed. I'd never really considered before how very seductive Regency male clothing is - and how well it shows off a good male figure. Thanks for sharing this!

Savanna Kougar said...

Linda, thanks. This was definitely entertaining as well as informative. Like Lindsay suggested, I didn't realize the level of seduction of men's Regency clothing. However, I did know about the peacock theory of dressing that men of ye olden times followed.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Savanna, I think it's a shame men don't get the chance any more to peacock about in western cultures - some fashions returned would be a lot of fun.

Unknown said...

Hi, Linda and other HEA authors. Love the photos, and yes, only romance heroes can wear these form-fitting clothes. Well, except maybe for Matthew McConaughey.By the way--I have an article on The Wild Rose Press "In the Garden" site titled "Wardrobes for the Historic Hero and Heroine." I have several websites there which sell such clothing. I contacted every website owner and got permission. They're great to scan for outfits for males and females, and children, from the inside-out, Western and Regency. Nice post! Celia

Helen Hardt said...

Great post, Linda! You're right about an excellent physique being essential. And, of course, all our romance heroes have those ;).


Sara Humphreys said...

This was very cool. The tight fitting clothing could also explain why they looked so stiff and uptight in all of the pictures. They probably couldn't breathe LOL! Neat stuff!

Miss Mae said...

Oh my, oh my...I do feel a swoon coming on...(Miss Mae hastily reaches for a fan to cool her warm cheeks)...(though she might take a peek over the top)

Linda Banche said...

Thanks all.

Lindsay, Savanna,
Regencies are full of descriptions of the hero's clothes and how good he looks in them. Goes to show that a handsome man can look good with his clothes on.

Celia, thanks for the info. I'll check your article out.

Hi Helen, Yes, our heroes all have great physiques. Clothes don't make the man, but they sure help!

Sara, In comparison to the tight men's clothes, Regency women's clothes were loose. But the women could look stiff, too, because they wore corsets, which prevented the ladies from bending at the waist.

Hi Mae, Glad you had a good time looking. So did I!

Debra St. John said...

Your regency hero sounds gorgeous, and they do say "clothes make the man". And, yes, it's every bit as important to know how those clothes come off!

Kaye Manro said...

Very good post, Linda! Thanks for sharing how sexy Regency men are. Tight clothing and all!

Elaine Cantrell said...

Enjoyed the post,Linda. I did one on Victorian ladies'fashion. A man would have to be in shape to wear this Regency stuff.

Martha Eskuchen said...

Nice psot Linda! Thanks. They sure looked nice in those outfits. *sigh* My DH loves to get dressed up in his tuxedo with vest etc. But it sure isn't tight like the Regency clothes!

Linda Banche said...

Debra, unwrapping the package is part of the fun!

Hi Kaye, yes, fully dressed can be just as sexy as wearing almost nothing.

Elaine, I'll check out your post on Victorian women's clothes. If he's in shape, a man will look good in anything--or nothing!

Hi Martha, it's nice your DH likes to get dressed up. My DH likes to wear his tuxedo, too, but his isn't tight, either.

Mary Ricksen said...

I loved your post Linda, the body makes a big difference. And the clothes make the man!
Even regency, who woulda thought.
This is one fantastic book!

Linda Banche said...

Hi Mary, thank you so much. There's more to Regency, both on and under the surface, than most people realize.

Francesca Prescott said...

Linda, this was interesting. Nowadays, I think the only clothes for men bearing any resemblance to the Regency period are the English competitive equestrian outfits. Top hat, tight jodphurs (breeches), white shirt with cravat, fitted jacket with tails (in dressage), and high boots. When riders have great bodies, they look fabulous!!! It's a very flattering look. Go to a dressage competition and see for yourself...

Linda Banche said...

Hi Francesca, yes, I've seen equestrians, but I didn't make the connection. Of course, the one time I saw dressage, I had no idea what Regency was!

Jolene said...

Oh hell, Regency clothes and men are hot... the hottest being John Polidori, my love.