Regency attire on a budget: Ball gown

Hopefully your partner isn’t as well-versed in muslins as Mr. Tilney, because most modern gowns are not made of non-synthetic materials. Luckily, floor-length gowns with high waists are very in. The sleeves and decoration may not be Regency-ready, but that can be changed.

I bought the pictured dress for $10 at Ross (yes, I love that place). It’s white, flowy and has the right waistline. I need to add sleeves of some kind and sew a ribbon over the sequins, but overall it’s a solid start.

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Before I went dress-hunting, I spent a lot of time perusing Regency dresses in illustrations and museum archives.

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And then there were the ones in the movies, of course.

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I like the look of the ones in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice because they seemed easier to mimic.

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Here are some modern dresses that might work as a Regency-ish starting point. I think the main thing to take away from these is that you can find cap-sleeves, long cuts and empire-waistlines in a lot of current designs. While you can easily buy these dresses online, I liked the ability to try one on so I could move around a lot in it, as I would at a real dance. I don’t know if all dresses are cut to move easily, so keep that in mind.

 

ASOS - $134
ASOS – $134
Forever 21 - $47.90
Forever 21 – $47.90
Target - $80, comes in more colors
Target – $80, comes in more colors

If you have the budget you can also check out Etsy for some LEGIT Regency dresses.

Etsy - $95
Etsy – $95

 

Etsy - $325
Etsy – $325

 

Etsy - $54
Etsy – $54

Of course, there’s always the chance that you’re a DIY wizard, so here are some links for those adventurous enough to make their own.

I also HIGHLY suggest going to thrift shops. They often have old wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses that could be a good base dress. Again, you can make your own, but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to take a modern dress and fix it up with ribbons and such to make it work.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a big area, there might be Regency societies that can help you out with clothing swaps or guidance for dress-shopping. A lot of times costume societies are very welcoming of people who don’t have the historically accurate costume, so don’t be afraid to approach them.

-Admin B

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