Besides the brightly colored coats and glittering trim, I have one more fashion piece to mention. It’s a small but important element for wealthy male peacocks: the button.
As a reader, I cringe a tiny bit when I read about my Regency hero unbuttoning his lady’s gown. Not over the romantic action, but as a matter of historical accuracy. When I sewed my first Regency gown I was dismayed to discover the pattern I was using called for grommets and lacing!!! Apparently, buttons weren’t much used as fasteners for lady’s gowns.
Buttons might be used by men to close the placket of their breeches, but they were prized as ornaments that displayed wealth and fashion sense. It’s difficult to see in this picture, but buttons raced along the gold braiding on the lapels of George II’s coat.
All Things Georgian, a fabulous blog that I highly recommend, recently had a post about 18th Century Buttons. Be sure to click on the link to see a picture of the ornamental buttons on the Duchess of Osuna’s gown.
I stumbled across a scholarly discussion of historical buttons on the internet from the Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange: Buttoning Down the Past. Backing up the designers of my Regency gown pattern, the author says:
There is a common belief that women did not use buttons as methods of
fastening clothing prior to the 19th century, but rather made use of complicated hook
and eye catches, ribbons, ties, and temporary stitching. However, even during this
period, the button played an important place in decoration. By the era examined here,
from 1840 to 1860, buttons were an integral factor in women’s clothing, serving as
mechanical fasteners and decorative statements of status and self-image.
This is a lengthy paper covering the various materials and techniques used for making buttons. Everything you might ever need to add a touch of authenticity to your story!
Thoughts? Comments? Please add below, especially if you’ve uncovered conflicting facts in your own research!
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons