The Dress Code

Welcome to Joel and Chantal’s vintage Regency-inspired wedding!

This will be a vintage, somewhat themed wedding so we would like to offer suggestions as to how you can actively participate by coordinating your costume/outfit with these helpful tips. While the overall theme will be Regency-inspired, it is not a strictly Regency theme wedding. Guests are welcome to dress in other styles from the 19th-century, up until the Edwardian period (nothing later than that, please).

Edit**Costumes and inspired-outfits are not mandatory…but they are appreciated!

Outfits can be inspired, they do not necessarily have to be historically accurate or costumes.

Joel and Chantal will really appreciate your participation!!

First a bit of history:

The Regency Era

Encompassing the years of 1812 to 1830, the Regency Era signaled the end of Georgian exuberance and the advent of Victorian sensibilities. It is a fairly short period of the 19th century during which the Napoleonic wars were fought between France and England (the battle of Waterloo, etc.) and the era in which Jane Austen’s novels are set.

Other Regency celebrities include Lord Byron, William Blake, John Keats, Beethoven, Franz Schubert and of course, Jane Austen.

Regency costuming

Ever wonder why they refer to high waistlines on dresses as “empire waistlines”? Well now you know! It refers to the British Empire during the Regency Era, when England was leading the world in fashion.

Women’s dresses were very flattering during this era, with high waistlines and long, flowing lines. Men wore cropped jackets and tight breeches. Men, don’t worry: we don’t expect you to wear tight pants. Bonus points is you can find high riding boots to wear!

Ideas for Regency-inspired outfits:

Empire waistline dress

Short puffed sleeves

Wear a wrap headband

Wear ballet flats

Flip your collar up, add a necktie

Wear riding boots (for men)

Regency Period Films

Becoming Jane

Mansfield Park (any adaptation)

Sense and Sensibility

Pride and Prejudice (I prefer the 2005 version, despite Keira Knightley)

Vanity Fair (the Reese Witherspoon one…no other. The costuming is phenomenal!)

Regency House Party

Emma (the latest PBS adaptation)

Bright Star (another favourite)

Regency Resources

Eras of Elegance

Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

Jane Austen festival photoset on Flickr

The Victorian Period

This is the period that comes to most people’s mind when thinking of the 19th century. The Victorian era corresponds with the reign of Queen Victoria in England from 1837 to 1901. The period is beloved for its attention to high morals, modesty and proper decorum, as inspired by the Queen and her husband, Prince Albert. In America, the Victorian era is captured in the gun-slinging, trail-blazing culture of the “Wild West”, especially during the gold rush of the late 1840s.

Victorian era dresses are elaborate, extravagant, constricting and absolutely beautiful. There is no end to the possibilities of what one can do with a Victorian costume. Corsets are a must, as the hourglass figure was the idealized shape for the Victorian woman.

Men’s costume was very chic and not a far cry from Regency Era men’s costume. Top hats were very popular, as were moustaches and sideburns. Trousers were generally worn longer (full-length) and coats were knee-length.

Ideas for Victorian-inspired outfits:

High collars and ruffles

Wear lace and ruffles

Wear a hat (Victorian women's top hat shown here)

Wear lace

Wear larger puffed sleeves

Any elements from this outfit

Wear a hat (top hats were very popular)

Wear a long suit jacket

Victorian Period Films

Sherlock Holmes (any adaptation)

The Prestige

The Illusionist

From Hell

Deadwood (HBO series)

Nicholas Nickleby (any adaptation)

The Young Victoria

Sweeney Todd

Anne of Green Gables (TV mini-series)

Cold Mountain

Little Women

Miss Potter

The Age of Innocence

Victorian Resources

Eras of Elegance

Victorian Trading Company

Victoria Magazine

Victoriana Online

The Edwardian Period

The Edwardian era corresponds with the reign of King Edward VII and broadly encompasses the years of 1901 through 1919.

The Edwardian era was a historical moment of tremendous technological and social change. The wonders of the modern world, which had only sprang into being in the 1880s and 1890’s, brought the first rewards of modern industrialization and mass-produced abundance. Americans during the Edwardian age experienced new-found wealth and indulged in cuisine, fashion, entertainment and travel as never before. Perhaps the Edwardian era was best captured in the Titanic, the grand ocean liner which embodied the human progress, opulence, and excesses of the time. The Edwardian era is aptly remembered as the “Gilded Age.”

In terms of fashion, this was the era of the Gibson Girl (we love that an illustrator had this much influence on fashion). Big hair, big hats and lots of beading more or less encapsulates the Edwardian style.  Men’s fashion evolved very slightly, with the suit remaining more or less the same as the Victorian suit.  Bonus points if you show up with a Gibson Girl hairstyle!

Ideas for Edwardian-inspired outfits

Wear embroidered fabrics

Wear sheer fabrics with embroidery

Wear lots of beading

Wear a big hat (please ignore creepy mannequin)

Wear a Gibson Girl hairstyle!

**MEN: Same as Victorian fashion

Edwardian Period Films

Titanic (whatever you may think of it, the costumes are stunning)

The Golden Bowl

Road to Avonlea (tv series)

The House of Mirth

The Wings of the Dove

Where to buy vintage clothing inspired by these styles

The Victorian Trading Company


Other Resources

Regency Costume Companion It is helpful for men’s and women’s outfits.

We hope all this helps you in your choice of clothing! It is by no means a complete guide to the three periods, but we hope it gives you ideas.

Chantal is an expert in costuming of these periods so PLEASE, IF YOU NEED HELP contact her!! She would love to help you 🙂

Published on March 26, 2010 at 12:42 am  Leave a Comment  

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