Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dressed to Impress

Have you ever noticed that historically, clothing was something to be worn and shown off? People dressed to the nines, impressing those around them with their fashion sense and style. Fabrics meant everything, the colors carefully chosen, had hidden inuendos.

In medieval history, purple was worn by royals, and those who were lower ranking in society who dared wear the rich color would be punished.

A woman wearing scarlet or red in Regency and Victorian times was scandolous, and let's not even mention how exposing her decolletage may be... Yet prior to this, wearing such a color denoted your high rank in society. Peasants often wore browns and greys as color dyes were very expensive. Funny how things change over the course of history.

Wearing a white wedding dress wasn't popular until Queen Victoria did it in the 1800's. Prior to that a woman could wear almost any color.

People spent hours dressing and primping, sometimes not of their own choosing, but because what they wore or their hairstyles, might have taken so long to prepare.

Have you noticed today that the way we dress is much less prepared? Much less impressed on us? Sure when you have an interview or an important dinner to attend you will make sure you look your best, but if you're just running out to the store, even to work, you may not put on your perfect face.

What do you think of all this? Are you glad you can run to the local 7-11 in shorts and slippers, or would you rather have had to spend hours preparing? Personally, there are some I wish would spend a lot more time preparing themselves for public presentation before departing their abode... However, I do like the convenience of pulling on a pair of jeans and rushing to the supermarket for milk at 7 in the morning.


And now for a little shameless self promotion...

My Victorian era e-novella, Love Will Bloom, released this month.


After the death of her parents, Miss Lillian Whitmore travels to London to live with her aunt and uncle, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk. Sick with grief, guilt and loneliness, and shunned by her aunt and cousins, Lillian is constantly reminded of her ignorance of society customs. Forced to find a husband, she encounters two men who vie for her affections--handsome, poised Lord Dominick Wade and the sensuous rake, Sir Trenton--but the skeletons in Lillian's closet keep her from making a choice.

Expectations are high for Lord Dominick Wade to marry a woman of social stature, but the American beauty has literally wreaked havoc with his senses. Lillian is everything Dominick wants in a companion, lover and wife. Even more rankling is his competition, Sir Trenton, and the influence he holds over her.

Fate will decide this season which love will wither…and which will bloom

View the book trailer

Read this great review of Love Will Bloom, from romance author, Renee Knowles:

"Love Will Bloom is emotional, sensual, and most of all an enchanting read that will help you believe in true love. Eliza Knight writes with a poetic romance which transports the reader back in time. This is a fun read you won't soon forget!" ~Renee Knowles, bestselling author of Courting Trouble


After dressing and touching up her hair, Lillian started her slow descent to the dining room. Although she met her family earlier, she would now be forced to endure hours of conversation with them. It wasn’t a problem for her, she was glad to get to know them, but she feared they would not want to get to know her.

She hoped she would be seated next to her uncle. He seemed to be the most prone to talking among the lot of them, and it had been quite awhile since she'd had a conversation with anyone.

Lillian berated herself for her thoughts. She should want to sit next to them all, she did live with them now, and they were her family. During the internal battle she was having, Lillian barely heard the man at the foot of the stair clear his throat.

She sucked in her breath as she gazed upon him. Her heart skipped a beat, and her hands that had been perfectly dry, now felt slick.

He was a breathtaking sight. His tall, lean body leaned charismatically against the banister at the foot of the stair, with one elbow placed on its top. His other long arm bent at the elbow, with a strong hand placed on his slender hip. Lillian couldn’t help but admire him through her lashes, not wanting to be too forward. Although a lean man, she could see in certain places where his trousers and coat clung, his muscles were well defined. His clothes were of the utmost style, his shirt, pants and jacket smooth and crisp, not a piece out of place.


His thick brown hair came neatly to tie at the nape of his neck. A small lock came undone and lay against his forehead, giving him a wicked look.

Ah, so he is human. Not so flawless.

He stood there for a moment in perfect stance, as if to let her look upon him. She crinkled her brow, and rolled her eyes, thinking him arrogant. He was most assuredly one of the handsomest men she’d ever seen, but there he stood so proud, so sure of himself. He seemed to expect her to look upon him.

“Good evening, my lady. Lord Dominick Wade, at your service,” he said with a sweeping bow as she stopped at the foot of the stairs.

She lifted her arm delicately as she’d been taught and waited for him to take her hand. His fingers gently gripped her hand, as his soft lips grazed her skin. She felt a tingle wind its way up her arm and into her chest.

“Lillian Whitmore,” she said softly, her breath still caught in her chest from the moment he seized her senses with his warm kiss.

“Whitmore?” he asked, looking up sharply, his brow furrowing.

“Yes,” Lillian said, willing the butterflies in her stomach to stop fluttering. She straightened her back, stunned at the man’s seeming incredulity for her name.

“I don’t understand. I know I have been traveling for some time, but I was sure His Grace only had two daughters, and both English. You are American.”

“How perceptive,” Lillian said under her breath.

Buy Link

Cheers and Enjoy!


Helen Hardt said...

While I find Regency and Victorian dress fascinating, I'm glad we don't have to spend hours preparing now. I'm so not into clothes! Jeans and a tank, and I'm happy ;). Great blog, Eliza, and congratulations on the success of Love Will Bloom!

Mary Ricksen said...

You couldn't get me in one of those corsets! Awful, they had trouble breathing. We had to wear girdles when I was in high school. Ever try to exercise at gym in a girdle. So you can kill me, but I wouldn't wear it.
The one thing about this day and age that is great is that you don't have to. You can wear what you want to wear. Yes!
Loved the blog and good luck!

Lucy said...

Depends on the day lol! Actually, being a lover of historical costumes (and of course the times), I can't help feeling like we're missing out on something.

Your book sounds wonderful! I'd love to read it:)

Eliza Knight said...

Thank you Helen! I'm not sure I would have the patience to sit there... sometimes I like that I can get ready in 15 minutes if I need to.

Mary I feel for you!!! I'm glad I didn't have to wear one. Thank you!

I agree Ms. Lucy! There is something missing... Thank you!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I would hate to see so much time wasted in the hairstyles of that timeperiod. But, I think society has swung too far the other way. I know it sounds like I am a prude, but I am so sick of seeing belly buttons, and drooping pants. I keep asking my daughter if I am old and out of date, but she assures me she hates to see so much flesh showing and in such wierd fashions and lack of self respect. I will slink back into my cave now.

Eliza Knight said...

I agree Paisley! At one point in time underclothes were private...now everywhere you go you can see someones drawers or lack thereof hanging out!


Keith said...

One of the reasons I like winter is because it is the only time one can wear clothes! I am rather a hermit these days hiding out on my forest property but when I do go to town I don't like dressing like a ruffian, even if I was country born.
My wife made me an early 18th century frock coat but won't let me wear it to town! So she made me a new suite with a long jacket to compensate. The suit is in Dark grey, and the period coat in a mid grey. My wife has also promised to make me another coat which is more on the lines of the period coat, more fitting, more style but not 18th century!
Regards, Keith.

Eliza Knight said...

Keith that is so fun! I would love to someday have some period clothing. I made my daughter a renn dress and that was a lot of fun, but I haven't gotten around to making one for myself yet.

Keith said...

Hi Eliza, oh you have to admit that the mid 18th century clothing is very smart, far more style than modern clothing. I started our 18th century Living History group about 18 years ago, so I get plenty of oppotunity to wear period clothing. I love it.
I wonder if we all started wearing period clothing to do the shopping if we could start a new/old fashion?!