How Well Do You Know Regency Fashion?

How Well Do You Know Regency Fashion?

Are YOU a Regency Era fashionista? Do you know a reticule from a parasol? Are pantaloons and chemisettes both undergarments? And what is with all those hats!? For today I thought a visual guessing game would be fun. Test your knowledge of fashion accessories for ladies, entering your answers and/or thoughts in the comments section. I do provide the answers at the end of the post in a hidden spoiler box. Like I said, this is just for fun!




#1)  Yes, the images below are of HEADWEAR for ladies. Too easy! Not all hats were the same, obviously. A milliner would require the proper name for the TYPE of covering a lady wished to have made. Do you know the correct name for the headwear represented by the images below?  *HINT: “bonnet” will not do!



#2)  Made of wood, ivory, or bone, this object slipped into a pocket in the front of a corset and was tied in place with a thin piece of lace or ribbon. The purpose was to keep the breasts separated while forcing proper posture. As noted in the examples to the right, these things were often carved, decorated, or inscribed with messages, and were popular gifts from men to their sweethearts and wives.




#3)  In use since at least the 12th century, the objects pictured below are a type of overshoe, usually with a thick wooden sole and a leather (or metal) top that slipped over the regular shoes. Secured with a buckle or tie, it served to protect the costly, fragile slipper-shoe and to lift the foot away from mud, snow, or the general filth that collected in early modern city streets.


#4) We can easily recognize the generic SHAWL worn as the basic and most common accessory thrown over a lady’s shoulders for warmth and protection. Do not be fooled, however, because there were a plethora of garment choices to wrap around the upper torso beside the shawl! The difficulty is in naming them, particularly problematic due to the variations in style and constantly changing descriptions. Below are examples of three different cover-ups, the descriptions corresponding to the images. What are they called?

A. A long slender boa-type fashion accessory used to wrap the neck area. Could be made of fur, or fabrics from thick brocades or velvet, all the way to transparent lace or muslin.

B. These varied in shape from a rectangle to a triangle and were folded in some way, to then either cover the exposed neckline over the gown or tuck into the gown’s neckline. Some were long, although typically not, and the fabrics were predominately sheer and delicate.

C. The Regency version of this fashion accessory was cape-like with a short length in the back and long, narrow, usually pointed ends hanging down in front. Fabrics occasionally were lightweight and thin, but more commonly thick and lined. Fur as an accent or as the primary construction was also common.

#5)  CAPE versus CLOAK. Which one is which?

A _____ falls well below the knees and usually to the ground. It is a functional garment worn for warmth and protection from severe weather, and as such, it completely covers the wearer from head to toe and front to back. It may not have a hood but almost always does, is fastened at the neck, and does not have sleeves but will have slits for the arms to pass through. Fabrics lean toward heavy and tough, including thick fur, in colors that are neutral and in darker shades.

A _____ is shorter, falling to the waist or buttocks, and worn in part for warmth but more often as a fashionable accessory. It will always cover the back but may be open in the front, is fastened at the neck or shoulder, might have a hood but typically does not, and is more likely to be embellished with decorative trim. It does not have sleeves, nor will there be a slit due to the shorter length. Fabrics tend to be lighter weight in a wide range of colors and patterns.


Did you enjoy testing your fashion know-how? I hope so! For more fashion examples from the Regency, both in extant samples and prints, visit my Pinterest Boards for thousands more. Visit my website for all sorts of awesome Regency-related information, AND, of course, to read about The Darcy Saga sequel series!

*Click for Sharon Lathan’s website & blog.



#1) A: turban – B: cap – C: poke bonnet – D: calash bonnet

#2) a busk

#3) pattens

#4) A: tippet – B: fichu – C: pelerine

#5) Top group: CLOAK – Bottom group: CAPE

22 Responses to How Well Do You Know Regency Fashion?

  1. I almost gave up at questions 1 & 2 as I had no idea. But I got the others right (well apart from 4c) I obviously need to swat up on my regency clothing. Thank goodness this wasn’t an exam!
    Thanks for sharing this post Sharon.

  2. I rarely know the fashionable name though know a turban from a cap. Would have failed your test completely. I want one of each, please. I love the cloaks and capes want a redingcote and pelisse.
    What did they wear in the rain?

  3. My favorite is the red cloak. I love the clothes from this era and your Pinterest is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What does a “coal shuttle”hat look like? Is it Regency or Victorian? I love knowing what people wore. It adds so much to the story. Georgette Heyer had books with examples (and prices)for each year. I would love to see those!

    • Interesting question, Teresa! The term did not readily sound familiar to me, so I had to look it up. First off, it is a coal SCUTTLE hat, but still did not sound familiar to me. Indeed, it is a type of hat made popular in the 1840s to 1850s, well past the Regency. Wikipedia has some info on them:

      I do not have any clear examples of the style in my Pinterest boards. But, a search of Pinterest or Google will yield lots of images and information. 🙂

      • Coal scuttles( though I didn’t know the proper name) were very well known when people had too carry a scuttle full of coal to the fireplace or stove. Though the bonnet might not have been around in the regency, the term and object was. The regency had some bonnets that were worse than coal scuttles.

  5. I knew about half, but those bonnets–I’m so glad they are no longer a ‘necessary’ part of attire. I’d feel like a walking mushroom, and who wants to be a fungus? It was interesting to see the images of the pattens; I’ve always thought they would look much more utilitarian. I especially like the ones with the round shoe on the bottom. Crazy!

    • I half agree on the hats/bonnets. I recently re-watched Downton Abbey and have to say I LOVE the styles from later decades. The fascinators and smaller caps that accented the ensemble and hairstyle (rather than covering it all up, as in the Regency) were so amazing. Plus, hats add a classiness and elegance that is sadly missing these days, IMO. That said, I am too much of a jeans and casual shirt kinda gal to really want to dress fancy all the time and change outfits five times a day!

      Most pattens for the average, working class people were utilitarian. In fact, pattens as a whole were worn primarily by the lower to middle classes, those being the people who trudged through murkier, dirtier streets. But, if someone of the upper class DID need to don pattens over their costly shoes, naturally they would HAVE to be beautiful too! All rather silly when you consider what the purpose of the patten was. LOL!

  6. Dang, I only knew a couple… had heard of others [but had forgot about them]. I really enjoyed this. I love looking at antique clothing from the former eras. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Hi J. W.! It is so easy to forget the terms, particularly of the hats. I am FOREVER double checking my notes, if I bother to write anything other than “bonnet” into my text, just to be safe. LOL!

  7. Well, I knew cape and cloak, fichu and poke bonnet. Should have remembered busk and pattens. Thank you for the quiz. It helps to actually see what each looks like. A word description isn’t always adequate. 🙂

    • Good for you on cape vs. cloak, Gianna. When I read the variations and examine the images separate, it makes perfect sense. But darned if I don’t get confused every time when encountering a lone image! I do agree that the images help. The main reason I created a Pinterest account in the first place way back when was to have visual examples of Regency items, places, etc. so I could keep it straight when writing. Then, of course, Pinterest became an obsession in many ways, but that is another story. LOL!

  8. Sharon, I don’t know the answers (except for the cloak/cape one), but that was really interesting. I didn’t even know those things that ‘kept the breasts separated’ existed! What’s especially great about them is that it’s obvious dresses had the perfect place for a bodice knife 🙂 My dashing heroines will never again be without one! Thank you for the link to your pinterest page. I shall employ it.

    • Oh, now Summer… I shall expect to see a bodice knife in a future story from you. That sounded so exciting. No wonder Lizzy wasn’t scared to walk alone on her father’s estate. She was locked and loaded. Those Lucas boys taught her a lot about self defense… or she taught them. I ‘Pity The Fool’ that attempts to compromise her. But then again, you may have your own story to write. I couldn’t help it. Once you put the picture in my head… it just took off.

    • Oh Summer! I am LOL’ing at the hidden blade! What a GREAT idea! I wish I had thought of that! I look forward to discovering which book that will be incorporated into. 🙂

    • Someday, some costume designer for a regency era movie will actually seperate the breasts, at least on a few gowns for a character or two, instead of smooshing them together in the modern way.

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