If you are just throwing an outfit together from your closet (hopefully for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentennial Ball this Saturday!), use my previous post and ignore this one. I promise that getting the shape right is all that really matters. On the other hand, if you are interested in more of the finer points of regency dresses (and seeing some really drool-worthy examples), today is for you. You might be able to use some of this information to improve a dress, like trims or overlays, or it might help you keep an open mind (for example, to colors) when you are in a thrift store.
Not all Regency dresses were white. A lot of them were, and they are really gorgeous. You don't need to avoid white, but you also should not feel stuck to it. In fact, a plain white dress is at best rare. That sort of gauzy dress you are imagining right now should probably have a subtle pattern woven into the fabric, or maybe a healthy dose of embroidery.
Now it is true that not all colors existed yet, or could be made into dyes for fabrics. We are talking about a period before some of the most exciting advances in dyeing technology. But don't be afraid of color. If you followed my moment of insecurity a few weeks ago, you are more than aware that yellow is a great Regency color. There really are others, too.
Check out this interesting article I found about funny color names in this period. Don't you feel more special now that you can tell people that you are wearing a coquelicot dress? And indeed, don't you feel superior just for knowing what puce looks like?
There is embroidery all over the place. This is probably my favorite example, though.
Sheer gauzy fabrics were all the rage. This includes near-indecent sheer white dresses, but also cool overlays for your dresses! Check it out.
I've been seeing a lot of dresses with metallic elements - either the fabric itself, or some embroidery, or some really smashing trim!
Very popular, especially in a cute spencer or pelisse.Classical Influence
I have little to say on this, but just look around. The gauzy white draping? The columnar silhouette? Regency is all about the classical influences.
Mind Boggling Embellishments - A Case Study
I am totally in love with Princess Charlotte. I've already shown you a picture of her jumper dress (see Faking Regency 101 in the sleeves section). This is her bellflower dress. I don't even know what to say about it, it is just so lovely. Thanks to Vic of the Jane Austen's World blog for making these great pictures available - go here to read a whole post about this dress.