Boots

A Regency gentleman could not walk on earth without a pair of boots. They are part of the fashionable silhouette, together with the coat, waistcoat, cravat and some type of breeches/pantaloons. The boot is a result of the lifestyle of the era – the military uniform or the practical country squire on horseback. The sensible and well tailored English gentleman became a fashion icon during the years leading up to the French revolution and continued to be popular in the following century (and still is?). A gentleman would wear his boots both in town and country – almost everywhere but on the most formal of occasions. For the dapper middle class man in the city the sporty look would suggest a country seat in the family. There are two categories of boots: the top boot and the Hessian. The top boot is either tall or a bit shorter and is characterized by folded down brown or buff calf leather on the shaft. These are seen in many portraits and fashion plates, including the portrait of Monsieur Seriziat, my main inspiration. The other type, the Hessian, has its origin in the uniform of the Hessian army. A boot entirely in black finished at the top in a heart shape with a tassel right in front of the knee (see fashion plate below). The all-black riding boot, or Wellington, appears in the 1810´s, if I understand it correctly.

I have started to experiment with the modern boots from Koenig. I found them online for a very good price, so I was only a bit hesitant to cut in them. I masked off a line with tape, and cut through the outer layer with a knife. The inner layer is calf skin and perhaps there is enough to fold down on the outside? It could work. It´s a whole new project to search for additional pieces of leather that don´t cost a fortune, so preferably not. The cobbler? Flea market boots/bags/jackets? The boots are my size in the foot but man are they tall! What a difference to cut off two inches. Much easier to move about in them. (And yes I know from experienced horse-people that riding boots are supposed to be broken in and moulded to the wearer´s legs. It is sort of difficult to combine this process with every day life.) Update: I also removed the (plastic) boning in the middle back seam on the shaft. It was easy once i cut off the boot-top. Boots during the Regency era seem to be somewhat softer than the stiff modern riding boot.

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Faux buckskin breeches

How time flies! The social calendar for this spring turned out to be unexpectedly hectic. My appologies. Good news is the breeches are almost done! Here follows a recap of the process.

The fabric is a sturdy cotton twill with a brushed surface in a rich yellow colour. Gives the look of buckskin or perhaps period-appropriate nankeen.

Material for breeches

Naturally I used the same pattern as last year – a mix of the draping method and a period pattern in Norah Waugh´s Cut of Men´s clothes. Here I just cut the two main pieces. Note that I added some extra length at the bottom. No seam allowances, since I want these tighter than the silk breeches. (The v-part is the middle-back-front seam. The upper left part is going to be the front flap. If you look close up you see the cut in my muslin.) The fabric is difficult to photograph well…

Breeches 1

Fitting the kneeband. Have sewn the buttons and buttonholes. Note that the ribbon is temporary and will be replaced by a narrow strip of the same fabric, or a cotton ribbon in the same or similar colour. The leg is slightly longer than usual, a fashion trend in the 1790´s-1800´s. A snug fit over the thighs and knees. Somewhat baggy seat. These breeches were the skinny jeans of the day, and are supposed to have the same fit. The front flap is pinned but has yet to be cut.

Breeches 3

Breeches 4

Progress: The front flap or fall is done, save buttons and buttonholes. (This step alone took two nights. The fabric is thick and really tough to handle.) Have pinned the waistband. It also needs two-three buttons. Then we are almost done, I think…Breeches 5