The fob watch
Vintage glacé kidskin gloves
Cravat and high collared waistcoat
Fall front breeches and watch fob
Opera pumps and white stockings
Mr Elton in all his Regency finery! As you can see I opted for black stockings in the end, it gave a more elegant look. A very comfortable attire indeed. (Not that one would slouch in this. One becomes very aware of one´s posture.) A 21 c man is not used to showing so much leg, and I realised that one´s lower part of the body is particularily exposed when dancing. The kidskin gloves were very tight at the beginning but soon they streched a bit and I even forgot that I was wearing them.
The watch fob: I wonder what Regency gentlemen did to prevent their watch fobs (the ribbon with the cross) from constantly sliding into the side opening of the fall front? Since they are supposed to hang directly along the edge of the said front.
The waistcoat: perfect, save for one mistake: I put the buttons on the wrong side. I marked the buttons and buttonholes in front of a mirror, and obviously didn´t think. Typical mistake when there is stress involved. Found out when I was dressing and about to leave for the ball, and by then it was too late. I´ve promised myself to move the buttons and make new buttonholes some of these days. Hope to hide the original buttonholes under the overlapping.
Hair: Mr Elton studies fashionplates so no wonder he made an effort to achieve the curly romantic hair of the Regency era.
In the pockets of the tailcoat I carried the dance programme and a fresh handkerchief.
“The whole situation is most alarming! There is nothing worse than a sore throat. Its effects are exceedingly bleak.” Mr Elton in Emma.
Pictures of full Regency ball outfit coming up tomorrow!
Ah, everything about the ball in due course, but first things first. The waistcoat was completed on the night before the ball. I wanted a simple but elegant waistcoat in white or cream coloured silk. I was lucky to find the perfect material in one of our “finer” department stores. A soft silk taffeta with a woven pattern of leaves and branches. For the back and the lining I used bleached linen.
Cravat and high collared waistcoat
Again I didn´t use a pattern, but found useful and inspiring pictures of original and reproduction waistcoats online and in various books. I already knew what style I was going for – short waist, single row of buttons and a high collar to match the shirt and cravat. When cutting the pieces I used one of my modern waistcoats to achieve a good fit. I cut 2 front pieces from the silk and 2 pieces of linen for the lining. Silk interfacing for the front. Collar in 2 layers of linen sandwiched between silk. Back 2 pieces + 2 identical pieces for the lining. Time was running, so I machine-stitched the shoulder seams and side seams on outer fabric and the lining, before sewing them together, right sides in, at the collar opening. Then turned the right side out, and handstitched the armscyes. Checked the fit and then folded in and handstiched the bottom edge. Sewed on the collar. I also took time to pick the edges with tiny stiches. Later in the evening I made six buttonholes, covered the buttons and sewed them on. Mr Elton´s attire for the ball is done! You may notice a mistake. Take a close look or wait until l´ll reveal it in one of the upcoming posts.
A gentleman must be able to tell what time it is. Therefore, a Regency gentleman should carry a watch – a pocket watch or fob watch. The watch is attached to a watch fob, which works like a handle so that the watch can easily be found in the pocket. At this time the watch was concealed in a hidden pocket in the waistband on the trousers or breeches. Remember I sewed a welt pocket into the black silk taffeta breeches? The fob, a chain or made of fabric would be visible, and adorned with a weight of some sort – a perfect way to personalise the outfit and show one´s rank in society, As a clergyman Mr Elton carries a small cross in a black ribbon. Diamonds or glass beads? Perhaps a gift from his dear wife?
The Watch could look like this, if I had one.
I had no time to find the actual watch so I am simulating it with the help of a key chain that was laying around in our cloak room. I simply attached the ribbon to it with a few stitches and voila!
The ball is getting closer so there are two posts today. This is the frockcoat or tailcoat I´ll be wearing for the ball. (Ignore the waistcoat, more on the one I´m about to sew in the next post.) I mentioned earlier that I already have a vintage tailcoat in my possession. It is very well made, possibly 1930´s or 1940´s with a rich satin on the lapels. With some imagination, the cut makes it passable as very late Regency, somewhere around 1815 or so. Had it been a coat of lesser quality I might have taken liberties with it, but as it is now I only replaced the buttons (temporarily) to make it feel less like a modern tailcoat and a little bit more Regency. My inspiration came from this image below of you know who in the role of a certain gentleman. Metal buttons on a black coat for evening wear. (Where are his gloves?) If I remember correctly black coats usually had covered buttons. Metal (brass) buttons could be found on coats in navy, green, brown, etc.
I would have preferred a wider collar and the shoulders could have been less boxy, more like above on Darcy. The lapels should be wool or perhaps velvet. Back to the buttons: One afternoon last week I searched for suitable buttons in some vintage shops and second hand stores, going through endless rows of colourful ladie´s jackets from the late 1900s. Many interesting buttons, but too navy or simply not right. Finally I found an acceptable button at the local fabric store. Bought eight of them. It took only three quarters of an hour to do the sewing while watching the ball scenes from the 2009 Emma. Promise to show better pics in my next post.
The shirt is finished, at last. I took some time as I decided to handstich it. (It´s historically accurate, but ok I couldn´t use the machine late in the evenenings…) I didn´t use a particular pattern, but based the design and technique on earlier research and experience, and I also found several excellent tutorials online. I can especially recommend The Victorian tailor and Tea in a Teacup. It was not difficult at all, really very straightforward. I know, it´s a lot of work for something that will be hidden under coat, waistcoat and cravat but it helps me to feel more like a Regency-person.
Originally I planned to use fine linen or cotton batiste, but ended up using an old linen/cotton blend fabric that once was a sheet. It will do for now, but I´m not entirely happy with the way the shirt turned out. The sleeves are a bit too wide and the gussets could be positioned higher. This causes some unnecessary bulk when worn with the coat. I know that Regency shirts were really wide but then I should have used a lighter fabric. If I´d go for a swim in the nearest pond I´d probably drown 🙂 The cuffs are also slightly too wide whereas the collar could have had one inch more to fit better around my neck. I´ve read different versions (can´t remember where) on how to button the cuff: like a French cuff or overlapping like a modern shirt cuff. I´ll most likely go for the latter. If there is time I might perhaps add a frill to the front opening.
I already had the cravat. It is just a length of batiste, hand hemmed with a piece of fine lace at one end. I´ll iron it before the ball, and should starch it also to make it really crispy. There are of course many ways to fold and tie a cravat, depending on a man´s rank and skill of his valet. I prefer to wrap it twice round the neck and tie in front, but perhaps I´ll try something elaborate for the ball!
Vintage glacé kidskin gloves
No true gentleman would dream of going to a ball without gloves. White gloves have always been a status symbol and a sign of breeding. Remember they were handmade by true artisans and therefore expensive. Frank Churchill decides to purchase a pair of gloves at Ford´s in Highbury. By spending money in the leading (only?) store in the village his reputation will be improved considerably. Touching a lady with bare hands when dancing would have been considered as too intimate and definitely a crossing of the comfort zone. Always wear gloves when dancing and shaking hands but remember to remove them when eating hors d´euvres, dinner etc. Earlier this week I biked over to the source of all things precious, rare and reasonably priced: Old Touch vintage shop in Stockholm. There I found these well preserved gentleman´s glacé kidskin gloves for as little as 80 SEK (about 9 euros). They are not extremely fragile but I put them on carefully. As you see they fit like a second skin. I am not going boxing in these! (As if I would…) Mrs Elton ordered her opera length cotton gloves from Nehelenia Patterns in Germany.
“-but upon such occasion as this, when every body´s eyes are so much upon me, and in compliment to the Westons — who I have no doubt are giving this ball chiefly to do me honour — I would not wish to be inferior to others. And I see very few pearls in the room except mine.”
Says my cara sposa, Mrs Elton in Emma, vol 3, chapter II.