The Regency Wardrobe Collection - research & making - Wrapped in birds and butterflies


The fichu


A standard accessory during the Regency, for any modest woman who felt she would otherwise have too much cleavage on show was a fichu, also called a “tucker” for you tucked it into the bodice of your gown.


Fichus from the 3rd quarter of the 18th century and 1789

The Met Museum

"Fichu - softly draped collar" - The Regency by Marion Sichel

"A fichu is a large, square kerchief worn by women to fill in the low neckline of a bodice. It originated in the United Kingdom in the 18th century and remained popular there and in France through the 19th with many variations as well as in the United States. The fichu was generally of linen fabric and was folded diagonally into a triangle and tied, pinned, or tucked into the bodice in front." - Wikipedia

"Fichu was, broadly speaking, the French term for a neckerchief or scarf. The term appears in French from at least as early as the mid-18th century, and was adopted for English use as a more elegant alternative to neckerchief in the early 19th century."

For more about the differences between Handkerchiefs, Neckerchiefs, Buffons (in French the Fichu Menteur) and Fichus see: http://thedreamstress.com/2013/05/terminology-buffons-fichu-neckerchief-handkerchief/

18th-19th Century - The Met Museum

Triangular Fichu early 19th Century https://www.meg-andrews.com/item-details/Triangular-Fichu/7514

1805-1810 - The V&A

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O87038/fichu-unknown/

Bee Detail


"This antique blonde lace tambour embroidered fichu...dates from 1830. It is hand stitched, made of a sheer fine off white blonde net lace, with tambour embroidery work chain stitching done in a floral spray vine leaf pattern design. It features long lappet front ends which could be crossed at the front, tied in the back and would have been worn for modesty" - https://www.1860-1960.com/xa7596p0.html


For more about Tambour work please see: https://www.janeausten.co.uk/tambour-work/#more-18337








If Fichus were mostly worn for modesty then a muff was definitely designed and worn for keeping warm.



For more about "tippets (boas), pelerines (a broad collar-like cape which covers the shoulders) & muffs" I would direct you to: https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/georgian-era-muffs-tippets-and-furs/ I considered making a fichu as part of The Regency Wardrobe collection, I even designed one, but in the end I went for another item definitely intended to be worn for warmth but which also could be quite beautiful and that is the shawl. That therefore is what the rest of this post is about.


Shawls



It's always interesting to compare the changes that can happen in fashion in just a few short years, particularly in this period. Here are a Jacket, Shawl, and Petticoat, c. 1750-1790.




A Regency lady might have worn a square shawl, usually folded into a triangle, and you will see some examples in the fashion plates on this page: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/accessoryqueen1/regency-shawls/ However, the most common shape for a shawl by the early 1800's was a long rectangle more akin to a wide scarf or what is often referred to as a pashmina today, no matter what it is made of.


In fashion plates and in museum collections we can see how decadently long many Regency shawls were, nearly dragging on the floor; often between 2-5 - 3.5 metres. It's difficult to find modern shawls that are even 2 metres long.




1801 fashion plate: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51592109@N08/sets/72157624477496471/




Felicite de Durfort von Merry-Joseph Blondel, 1808