Transforming Edwardian Nightwear into Regency Daywear

April 28, 2013

Recycling Fashion:
My Multi-Tasking 1812/1912 Dress


 I found this beautiful Edwardian nightgown for $20 in a second hand shop and my first thought was: Wow! This looks just like a Regency-style dress!

The dress itself is early 20th century, not early 19th century, but the lines, lace, and silhouette look incredibly similar to these 1812-1813 fashion plates:

Fashion Plate, circa 1813

Fashion Plate, circa 1812

Of course I resist the opportunity to play dress-up, so here’s the gown, styled a la 1812:

1812 - 1


Nightgown – $20, thrift shop
Woven shawl – $5, Walmart
Vintage Gloves – $5, eBay
Hat (made from a flower pot and silk ribbon) – $1, thrift shop
Shoes – $3, thrift shop

Under layers:
White slip – $8, Walmart
Rago Waist Cincher (helps boost the girls up to ridiculously high, Regency-approved levels) – $30, Amazon
Balconette bra – $12, Hanes

1812 - 7

The dress is really beautiful and must have been even more so when it was new. It has cotton lace inserts threaded with peach silk ribbon around the collar, waistline, and cuffs. The hem has a dainty, pin-tucked ruffle bottom.

1812 - 8

Of course, the best picture of the outfit had to have me blinking…

1812 - Regency Wedgies are Sexy!

This one is for Little Miss Snippet. It took quite a bit of convincing to get Chris to take the picture like this. “It looks like you’ve got a wedgie!” he kept saying. Little did he know…

Fashion plate, circa 1813

1812 - 4

This shawl was a super steal at Wally World. Who cares if it’s polyester?! It looks amazing with all sorts of styles, from 1810 to 1860 to today.

1812 - 6

Since my mim was so kind as to get me a curling iron for Christmas, I attempted to curl my hair this time around. It held curl perfectly…for about 4 minutes. By the time I got outside, it had mostly come uncurled, so I did the period-appropriate thing and poked the ornery bits back up into my poke bonnet!

The dress was in pretty rough shape: mildew stains, set-in wrinkles, and a complete lack of any closures (it’s open from collar to hem and had 1/2 of a snap left, so I replaced and added vintage ones to hold it closed properly. I don’t want any wardrobe malfunctions!). I gently soaked and sun-dried the cotton, which whitened it perfectly. I also gently un-twisted the peach silk ribbon. There are plenty of lovely, under-appreciated Victorian and Edwardian nightgowns out there and many make beautiful Regency gowns with the right tweaks! Also, since ladies either wore light corsets or went corset-less to bed (also just by the nature of sleepwear), nightgowns are usually looser fitting and in more naturalistic sizes that fit modern body types more readily than you expect!

My method of under support for this dress isn’t historically accurate, but it is historically inspired. During the 1810s, corsets were beginning to fully morph out of the stays and half-stays of the previous decades and into full-torso pieces with cording or wooden busks for the main support mechanisms with minimal boning. My Rago Cincher/balconette bra combo mimics the shape that a corset like this would have provided:

Corset, circa 1815-25

Fashion Plate showing a Gusseted Corset, circa 1813

6 Responses to “Transforming Edwardian Nightwear into Regency Daywear”

  1. cheyenek Says:

    Very cute!
    And how nice that you were able to pick up an antique dress for such a small price while it was still in WEARABLE condition! :)

  2. Cynthia Altoriso Says:

    You are sooooo talented and clever!!


    Cynthia Altoriso Style & Production Cell # 845-323-1902

  3. The Choll Says:

    I *LOVE* the stylin’ on this dress! You have such a good eye for the historical bones of modern(ish) clothing.

    And thanks to the wedgie picture, I can now die happy.

    • Nancy Nichols Says:

      Yeah, I think one of those HSF challenges should include something like Wedgie Styling Through the Ages, don’t you?

  4. SO jealous you found that for $20! Dying of jealousy! I would definitely wear that out and about!

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