The Itch Exposed: Special Report for Admirers of Regency and Georgian Fashion
By Suzan Lauder, Author of Alias Thomas Bennet
Madame Gilflurt and I share a fixation with anything Regency, including the bizarre. My recent focus on Regency costuming has led me down peculiar paths. Readers may have enjoyed the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment, a 30-episode blog series about upcycling and modifying used, budget, vintage, discount, and found items into Regency gowns, reticules, bonnets, tailcoats, walking sticks—the works! The ups and downs of my experience were shared with humour, and I posted patterns for some of my original designs, too!
While I call it research, far too much of my time is spent perusing Pinterest for museum pieces, fashion magazine drawings, and original artwork of the Regency period. On one occasion I was searching for a specific type of gown and noticed the image you see above (from Mirior de la Mode, 1803). This Georgian-era costume is interesting—I love the feathers—but it was not quite the example suited to my blog post.
Even so, I kept returning to review the drawing because I was struck by an unexpected impression: it appeared as if she was scratching her bum! The image was saved and filed, and each time I noticed it, I had a giggle. Of course, she’s really holding up the train of her gown, but knowing that tidbit did not one jot of harm to my ability to see it otherwise.
As if my fascination willed it to happen, other similar examples appeared! I began collecting images of bum-scratching ladies, most of which were displayed in Costume Parisian between 1801 and 1809, the Georgian years that immediately preceded the Regency era proper (1811-1820). The numbers in parenthesis are the year of the fashion plate. Click on the thumbnails to see larger images.
Five ladies can be considered bona fide bum-scratching fashion magazine art: Costume Parisien drawing numbers 335 (1802), 478 (1803), 602 (1805), and 615 (1805), as well as the lady on the left from the pair of ladies, #3, in yellow (1802).
Two ladies seen from the front are probably scratching their bums. They are John Hoppner’s painting of Mrs. Dottin from 1803-04 and the 1809 fashion plate with the unusual olive green short-sleeved spencer.
The so-called professional costumers may roll their eyes at me once again, but one must have a sense of humour in life!
Two others (Costume Parisien numbers 248 (1801) and 660 (1805)) have each clutched such a great twisted knot of silk, I conclude they want to ensure no one can accuse them of bum scratching.
About the Author
Suzan Lauder fell in love with Jane Austen because of Austen’s snarky comments on people who diss novelists in Northanger Abbey, the first Austen book Lauder read. This passion for Austen’s work was brought to the like-minded Jane Austen Fan Fiction community, where Lauder has been active as a reader, writer, collaborator, researcher, beta editor, and mentor of new authors for over six years.
Her Austen-inspired Regency romance novel with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet, was published by Meryton Press in 2013, and she’s joined MP again with a short story called Delivery Boy in the award-winning holiday romance anthology, Then Comes Winter, released in fall 2015. Her latest Austen-inspired Regency romance novel, Letter from Ramsgate, is currently being serially posted on JAFF mega-site A Happy Assembly prior to publishing.
Lauder blogs at road trips with the redhead and the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment, and creates her own original Regency-styled gowns and accessories. She and her husband of thirty years bought a little 19th century casita in Mexico for their two rescue cats, and hang out there for three months of the winter. The balance of the year, they live on beautiful Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
Written content of this post copyright © Suzan Lauder, 2016.