Regency Dress: Costume Dramas

Posted by London tour guide Hazel Baker on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 Under: Regency

Regency Dress: Costume Dramas

I love a good costume drama. There's something quite magical about stepping back in time and seeing what an era from the past was like. That's not just to say about the costumes, but also the architecture and also how people lived; the accepted etiquette, technological advancements and scientific understandings.

Looking back at the long list of period dramas I have watched, I must confess to being a bit of a junky for them. My first love for film came when I was nine years old and I had chicken pox and so a family friend looked after me and I exhausted her Doris Day film collection. I loved the clothes with weirdly shaped hats and matching heels and handbags, the big clunky cars and the men dressed smartly, wearing their hair like my grandad. There was something comforting and familiar, seeing the characters go through life similar to how we do now.

Going back further in time to the Regency era, a small window of history (1811-1820) but had a huge effect on fashion, architecture and art for many years to come. Do you have a favourite period drama? Why is your favourite?

Jane Austen's Emma has been done several times; Gwynneth Paltrow played bored Emma Woodhouse in 1996 with a sickeningly sweet Toni Colette as Miss Smith and a scarily-haired Ewan McGregor as the flirtacious Frank Churchill.   The costumes were designed by the talented Ruth Myers, a two time Academy Award nominee (Emma and the Addams Family). They were light yet structured. 

The costumes of the Emma TV drama (2009) starring Ramola Garai were designed by Rosalind Ebbutt who you may know from her costumes in the ITV TV series Victoria (2016 - 2019). She also worked on Downton Abbey in 2011. I love the coral necklace and coral dress combo Ramola wears here - understated and elegant. 

But it is the latest adaption of Emma (2020) which turned heads. Bold use of colours and shapes by Alexandra Byrne.

I was lucky enough to talk with dress historian Hilary Davidson about why she thinks the Regency era costumes in the period comedy-drama Emma are sublime. This is what she said:

Overall for my money, the costumes by Alexandra Byrne, who's an incredibly skilled and experienced costume designer that she made for the 2020 adaptation of Emma. I think they are the best versions of Regency costume I have ever seen on screen. They are just. Immaculate and not just immaculate in historically accurate ways, but  the clothing is used in the way that they did.

So you'll see Emma wearing the same muslin gown, but one day she's got a pink silk slip underneath it or the slip, you know, like we still call it now as a kind of a petticoat or an underdress. And then the next day she's got a blue one underneath. So the actual gown changes into a pastel pink or a pastel blue because of what she's got underneath and the way that they use the possibilities of fashion to make Mrs Elton exaggerated and completely period, but also over the top and vulgar, but in really exact ways, I just thought it was delicious. So for me, the whole costumes are just fabulous. And they've been nominated for an Oscar, rightly so.

You can listen to the fell episode here

In : Regency 

Tags: podcast  regency 


"online bookings' cpd #earthrise 17th 1830s 18thcentury 1930s 20th 50th a abbey adele afternoon afternoon tea age ages alastair ancient and animals annie anniversary apps architecture arsenal art arts attack autumn awards baker bank bankside barbican barrier bathhouses battersea bazalgette bear beasts becket bells bexley bishopsgate black blackfriars blackout blitz bloomsbury bombers book books borough bowie breakfast brewery brick bridge britain british bronze bronze age brunch buckingham burger burlesque buses cab cabaret cake canal canary captain care carl carol caroline carols cathedral cemetery cenotaph century chapman charles charlton cheap cheapside cheese childhood chips chiswick chocolate christmas church city city of london clapham clerkenwell cocktails coffee coffeehouses common company concert corporate covent covent garden covid-19 cream crime cross crown cruise crystal danson david davy day december dental deptford dick dickens dinner dinosaurs do dock dockland museum dragons dreamtime druitt earth east eat eating eats ecommerce edward edwardians edwin egypt elizabethan end engineering era ernst event events exhibition exhibitions facebook fair fairytale fall family fantastic farringdon fashion february festival film finance fire first fiscus florence folklore food for francis free friars frost gallery galliard garden george georgian georgians german germany gibb gift girls globe grade great greenhithe greenwich group guided guides gun half hall halsk handel harle harry potter hats havering havering hoard hawksmoor hazel heroes hidden highbury hill hilton history holloway homes hooke hot hotel house housing how humphry i ian ianmcd ice ice cream icelandic ii iii in india inigo isaac islington italian iv jack jack the ripper jack's james jenny jewels john johns jones joseph katharines kelly kenneth kew gardens kids kidstours killer kim king kings kingston lambeth lane lewis lights limestone literature liverpool locations londinium london london bridge london's londoners londonhistory lunch lutyens macaulay magnus management maritime market markets martyr mary match matilda maufe mayfair mcdiarmid measure medical medieval memorial middle military millennium mock-tudor modern modernist montague month monument moorgate mosaic murder murderers museum museum of london docklands music musicals mystery n7 national gallery national history museum ned new newcomen news newton nhs nichols night nightingale nurse of old street oliver open opera paddington palace palaces pancakes pandemic panoramic park parties path pauls people philip photo photograhy photography photos pizza places plague plantation plays plumstead podcast poetry pokemon polly poor pop poplar port poverty prince priory private tours pub public pubs purbeck qe2 queen queenhithe quirky railways recording regency reid religion rembrandt renaissance restoration ripper river road rob robert roman romans roundhouse royal saga saints salute saxon school. science sculpture scupture seacole second serial servants sewers shakespeare shoreditch siemens sir slave slavery small smartphone smith smithfield smithfields soap soho somme south southbank southwark spitalfields spy squirrels ss st statue stories stow street strike stuart stuarts studios subscription suffragettes sugar summer susan sydenham tate taxi tea ten term terror thames thamesmeade the theatre thiepval things things to do thrifty thriftytheatre to toothbrush tour tours tower trade travel truman tudor tudors tumblety twelfth twentieth twist und underground update v&a ve victims victoria victorian victorian london victorians viking virtual vouchers wales walk walking walks wall war water werner west westend westminster wharf wheeler whitechapel wilde wildlife willelm william windrush wine winter women wood woodland woolwich world wyatt york zachary 1666 1888 2019 2020





Site by Hazel  |  Photographs by Hazel or Ian