Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Bit of Color for the Gentleman

Today, I colored up Kenny's proposed outfit in Illustrator (Kenny is not bald, I am just lazy. I have only a mouse to draw with right now, at home, and am spoiled with the Wacom I use at work. So I slacked.) I already have the silk for his waistcoat (ordered it from Renaissance Fabrics when I ordered the stripey silk taffeta for my dress). It's a fine stripe of avocado green and pale blue (the stripes are a little less than 1/8" wide) taffeta.

Originally we had planned on making a hunter green coat and buff colored (cotton twill! not leather! I'm not that brave yet) breeches. You can see the inspiration painting in the image below. However, I ran across the green/blue stripe when I was ordering my gown fabric, so the green coat color was out. Next up? Blue. I now need to find a nice navy blue wool (melton? Not sure what weight I need yet.) And some smooth brass buttons.

Below, a couple of images of what I have more or less decided on. Kenny decided he likes the look on the right, with the pale breeches. And the tall boots. But he is so not getting out of wearing slippers to the ball in Louisville (I bought a pair of Mossimo tuxedo flats that I am hoping to re-cover in silk, adding a couple of tabs to tie across his foot.)

I found a couple fashion plates and ONE extant garment that shows the detailing that I put around the fall on Kenny's breeches. The extant breeches are c. 1810-ish, and reside in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The silk braid forming the applied detail has an interesting texture - it is almost like a spool-knit braid. Does that make sense? I don't even know where to begin looking for this type of braid. But I like it. Any ideas? 

Trousers, c. 1810-1820, via V&A
I found a couple of fashion plates that support this type of decoration (below). Not sure if the skater dude is the best reference, he looks a little costumey (I assume that sometimes fashion plates missed their mark, just like fashion magazines do today). But that makes a total of three examples, and one of them is extant, so this decoration is happening. Kenny's not too keen on it, but he's a trooper. I'll try to make it subtly tonal. 

Costume Parisien, 1809
Costume Parisien, 1813

As for boots... I bought Kenny some riding boots for $100 off of Etsy. They are slim and overall they fit great, but they are a smidgen tall and need to be trimmed down. So I am going to take a leap and ask the cobbler to make them into Hessians (which are the only style of boot that I can find good evidence of besides top boots. I would love top boots, but... not happening. The only non-repro top boots I can find are all ladies boots, and my husband has large feet for a lady. Maybe someday.) 

Not sure where this image is from, but it appears to be an extant diagram of  early 1800s footwear.Via Pinterest. 
Costume Parisien, 1811
Costume Parisien, An14 (1814?)
Joachim Murat in hussar uniform, c. 1801, by François Gérard
Joachim Murat (pictured last, above) appears to have had quite the bootylicious backside, I must say. I am a little puzzled as to how those britches got to be so snug; all the patterns I have seen thus far lend to a rather saggy backside. I love that trim detail going up the side and around the back of the breeches. 

Out of the four examples that I have of Hessians (plus a few others), half of them have tassels at the front, and half of them do not. I need a little texture going on with this costume, so I am going to go for the tassel! I'll have to make one out of silk/rayon embroidery twist or something. 

We visit the cobbler on Saturday - he will tell me what he can do. But I assume if he can trim down riding boots to fit a short leg, he can trim them in any shape I ask. Hoping! 


  1. I believe that the saggy bottom patterns are appropriate for the 18th Century, but are out of date for the Regency Period, despite their claims to the contrary. Re the tassels, they were entirely to taste - or not - unless of regimental pattern and subject to the colonel's instructions.

  2. The lace trim around the fall is typical of hussars and other light cavalry, but was also adopted by civilians as being nice and fancy. There are many examples of it.

  3. Thanks for advising! I'm glad to know that tassels were did not carry inherent significance. I am also out to find a way to fit breeches snugly while retaining period proportions. I'll post my efforts, we'll see how that works out! Those be some fine trous.