Fashion History of 1800s Accessories
The period 1800-1837 is part of the Georgian era. George III was insane after 1811, but lived on until 1820. His son the Prince Regent, George, acted as Regent for nine years of the King’s madness, then reigned 1820-1830. Because of the influence of the Georgian Prince Regent, this is early part of the C19th is known as The Regency Period, and in costume history terms the Regency fashion era. Accessories such as those shown on this page were an essential part of the fashion of the Regency period.
Throughout the Regency Era the lightweight robes needed other garments or accessories to make the wearer warmer. Tulle shawls which were delicate and light particularly suited fine evening dresses. White muslin net shawls embroidered with tambour work were made in Essex where a thriving cottage industry was set up by a Flemish refugee. Not far away Norwich produced silk warp and wool weft twill Norwich shawls which were almost Chinese in design.
The warmest Regency era shawls were primarily made from cashmere wool.
Genuine Kashmir shawls of the most beautiful quality made from very fine wool with woven and embroidered patterns were considered one of the most useful and attractive accessories. The draped shawls emphasised the classical effects that women in Regency England strived for. Taste was everything to the gentry of the Regency era. Other stoles and long slender scarves were also used, but the Kashmir shawl was prized.
An example of an oriental influenced shawl in rich golden hues is shown in the header painting of Madame Recamier. Madame Recamier was a famous French beauty of her day – celebrity is nothing new!
Changing tastes in fashion through the Regency period meant the fashionable way of wearing Kashmir shawls changed with the years.
Right – Fashion plate showing woman wearing a shawl folded in half in 1801.
Left – Two decades later this Regency fashion plate of 1820 shows the lady wearing her shawl as a stole. The swirling Paisley pattern features as a strong border on both the dress and the stole.
Eventually the shawls were copied by manufacturers in Britain and especially by the towns of Paisley and Norwich. Paisley made reversible shawls. Firstly they were woven, but later to cut costs and beat competition Norwich started to print the shawls.
By the Edwardian Era even cheaper printed paisley shawls bought for shillings were worn solely by the lower classes. The once sought after items had become so watered down and universally changed from a true Kashmir shawl that the upper class ladies rejected them. You are reading an original 1800s Fashion History Accessories article by Pauline Weston Thomas at www.fashion-era.com ©
See the section on lower class use of shawls in Shopping In The Past.
Caps and Turbans – Hats Early 1800s
The Regency era had an endless supply of fascinating headwear that became more and more outrageous as the era moved on. When the