Monday, 11 March 2013

Comparing Empire/Regency Fashion Plates and Thoughts on Proportion.

Greetings to my followers. 2013 has been extremely busy so far! I wanted to write a quick post about fashion plates and working out proportion. I received a set of fashion plates from a friend on my birthday and noticed one had been carefully coloured. I remembered I had seen the plate before on the Internet and wanted to compare it to the one in my collection.

Many people rely on fashion plates as a source for costume research. However they may not be completely reliable when researching garment colours. Below are some identical fashion plates with different colouring. It is difficult to tell whether the different colouring was carried out at the time or later. I am sure though that many ladies would have coloured their plates to decide on possible choices for their wardrobe. Or even to show their mantua maker/seamstress their ideas for a garment.

The same fashion plate in my collection.
Here are another two examples which I found by searching for 'Costume Parisien' on a Google search.

Costume plates are an invaluable resource for research especially in earlier periods where garments are less likely to survive.They usually illustrate the ideal image of fashion but in some cases what not to wear and should be treated with caution. They are only part of the puzzle when trying to build a picture of what was actually worn in the late Georgian, Empire and Regency period. It is important to cross reference the costume plate with other examples and if possible read the description as this will provide lots of information.


 When using a fashion plate as inspiration for a project I find it useful to work out the relative proportion of details. Below is a simple rough example where I have drawn a line down the side of the plate which will correspond to my height. I then divide the line into equal sections in red  to create a scale. The blue horizontal lines correspond to details which I will measure out using the scale I have created. It gives me a helpful guide as to how the outfit might work and possible measurements for parts of the garment.