Posted by P. Bingham on November 14, 1997 at 01:49:13:
In response to "Proper behavior" & low-cut gowns, written by Claudia on October 26, 1997 at 02:47:32
The rules of etiquette do indeed seem odd when compared to the low-cut dresses some of the ladies wore. Especially when you consider that, at the beginning of the Regency anyhow, some of the more daring (and stupid) ladies actually doused their already sheer gowns with water to appear more like a Greek statue. Those were the ones that probably never made it through the end of their Season! Being dead and all from exposure to the elements.
However, if a young, unmarried woman came out with a daring dress, she was definately frowned upon. It was generally the older and married (and more experienced, if you know what I mean) that wore the daring decolletage.
But then, every society has its rules and every society has those people that would flaunt the rules.
Also, understand that the Regency era was on edge of finding the morals that the previous era had not exercised. Hannah More was on the scene, reminding everyone of thier dignity while at the same time, copies of children's stories like Cinderella were being burned. The middle class thought the upper class positively wicked. The Regency age was merely a forerunner of the Victorian age and we all know about those chastity symbols those women wore.
The upper class more or less set these rules, I think, as a way to separate themselves from the lower classes. One unique characteristic of the Regency period clothing is that it was fashionable for all women, not just the wealthy. Everyone wore the same fashions. This was not at all the case in the previous eras. So there was only behavior that separated the poor from the wealthy.
There are oddities and conflicting ideals about alot of things Regency and Victorian, but that can be understood, I think, because they were on the edge of major social changes, some of the people fighting it while others were fighting for it.
my have I gone on. Sorry to bore everyone!
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