“Passion for Regency Fashion – The Pelisse” Susan Karsten

Blog Post for July 9, 2012

Having a degree in fashion design doesn’t make me an expert on historical fashion, but in my case it added fuel to my lifelong interest in clothing, beauty, and fashion. Beauty queens, Barbie dolls, princesses, and movie stars: all early building blocks of my fashion passion.

The Regency period’s fashions were definitely covered in the History of Fashion course I took in my junior year, but learning Regency fashion details was done on my own, outside of class. I still have much to learn on the topic, for example: what exactly is Pomona green? A color, yes — mentioned in several Regency historical novels, but not yet found in any dictionary I have searched.

I hope to elaborate and enlighten the readers of this blog on the wardrobe item known as the pelisse. What is that? From the context in which it is found, it is pretty obvious that it is a type of coat. But what type? Why does it have a special name and what are the specifics?

Since the dresses were often short-sleeved and light-weight, the pelisse was a necessary and essential item. The pelisse is a coat following the lines of the dress-styles of the day. Ankle-length, with the waist just under the bosom, it was close-fitting, and had closures across the bust or all the way from neck to hem. They were usually elegant and ornamental and their trimmings often matched a particular dress. The sleeves were long and extended over the hand, and could be puffed, or trimmed with fur at the shoulders.

In our day, we don’t have a garment directly correlating to the pelisse, but the closest we see in the current era would be a dressy two-piece outfit of sheath dress and matching evening coat. In future posts, I will be covering Spencers, shawls and reticules and how they related to the lives and wardrobes of Regency ladies. I welcome your requests of fashion-related topics you would like me to address … and if you know what Pomona green is, do let me know.

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