Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches and Ruffled Shirts II

What's Wrong With This Picture/Excerpt?

In Part I, we discussed Regency men's clothes. Although the era saw the birth of modern menswear, Regency clothing is not exactly the same. Errors abound in many romances. In this post we'll discuss three common errors in the portrayal of the Regency gentleman’s wardrobe.

What's wrong with Gorgeous Gentleman #1's clothes? The problem is his shirt. Men's shirts didn't button all the way down the front until the end of the nineteenth century. The front was open to about halfway down the chest, much like a present-day man's polo shirt. There may or may not have been one or two buttons to keep the collar closed. And a gentleman always wore a cravat to keep his shirt top closed.

The only way GG#1 could show off that great set of washboard abs in a historically correct shirt was to pull the shirt over his head. Or, the heroine could tear it off him in a fit of passion--the modern version of the bodice ripper.

The shirt GG #2 is wearing is correct. But what's wrong here? His shirt is correct, and our hero even has ruffles at his cuffs (oh, I do like ruffles on a man!). The answer--GG #2 is wearing a belt. Regency men held up their breeches (generic term for what they wore on their lower bodies) with braces, also called suspenders.

My third example is a passage from Miss Lockharte's Letters by Barbara Metzger:

"And I saw you trying to corner her in the choir loft. If you ever managed to keep your pants buttoned, we wouldn't be in half this mess."

The error here? The word "pants" is an Americanism, first found in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, around 1840, according to An Englishman would refer to the garment as "trousers". And if he were in the presence of a lady, he would call them his "unmentionables", if he referred to them at all.

I found lots of pictures of gorgeous gentlemen as I searched for images for this post. But I hit the jackpot with GG#2. Unlike some writers, I don't use a picture of an actor or model as inspiration for my hero. But when I saw GG#2, I knew I had found Richard, the hero of Lady of the Stars.

GG#2's hair is a little too long, he's wearing that belt, and he would never appear before a lady without a cravat, waistcoat and coat (jacket). I like to think he's in his bedchamber, early the morning after he met Caroline, the heroine. He's thinking about her, and already falling in love.

And here's our Happily Ever After.

Thank you all,


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

Pumpkinnapper--Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled, and a jealous goose. Oh my--coming September 30, 2009 from The Wild Rose Press


Kaye Manro said...

Great post, Linda! And so very informative. Thanks for the lesson. And I do love your pics!

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Linda, what an interesting post. I'll be studying covers more carefully now! And yes, nice pictures...
xx Francesca

Lindsay Townsend said...

Wonderful post, Linda! Fascinating, and entertaining and full of info. I really look forward to your posts! Thank you!
(Have you thought of joining Unusual Historicals? They do a regular theme on dress and fashion and I think would love something like this.)

Sara Humphreys said...

This was great! THnaks for posting it and opening my eyes :-) Very cool.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Kaye, Francesa, who said learning something can't be fun? And of course, we have to have illustrations!

Lindsay, thanks. I doubt Unusual Historicals would be interested in a newbie like me.

Thanks, Sara. Now your cover is OK--once the shirt is off, everything's fine. **grins**

Skhye said...

Wonderful post, Linda. I find there are almost always errors in covers. I especially find Native-American heroes portrayed with a Caucasian model annoying. :( But what can you do?

Savanna Kougar said...

Linda, thanks for the detail of your post, and, of course, for the pics. I can see why your heroine would fall for Mr. Shouldn't Have a Belt...
And, yep, ruffles on the right man... sexier than you know what.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Skhye, I agree. It is annoying when they use the wrong male model to represent a particular ethnic group. My goodness, there are all sorts of sexy Native American men.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Skyhe,thanks. Covers are hard, especially since we have little control over them. There are always gorgeous men to match the story, if anyone looks around.

Hi Savanna. Oh, Yes, I like GG#2, and those ruffles just add to his allure.

Helen Hardt said...

Linda, this is great information -- thanks so much for sharing!


Mary Ricksen said...

Linda what a great post. I so look forward to your time travel regency, I love time travel!!!!

Linda LaRoque said...

Wonderful, informative post, Linda. We'll have to compare time travels. Mine takes place in 1880 Texas.
Great pictures.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Helen, Glad I was able to provide some information for you.

Mary, thanks. Time travels are fun, I can see why you like them.

Linda, I'm sure things changed between the Regency and the 1880's. We'll have to see how.