Posts Tagged ‘Dress for Excess’

Banyan, Dress for Excess

Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England, the fashion exhibition at the Brighton Pavilion this year, features a quilted printed (chintz) banyan, or men’s dressing robe worn over a shirt and knee breeches. (Click here to see the full image of the robe .)

When at home, a gentleman would change into an informal knee-length dressing gown known as a banyan, and wear it around his family at breakfast,  playing games, such as cards or backgammon, and while reading in his library or writing letters. One can readily imagine Mr. Bennet wearing a banyan in his study, and most definitely Mr. Woodhouse (image below), as he sat by the fire reading a newspaper.

Mr Woodhouse (Bernard Hepton) in a fur-lined fitted man's dressing gown, or banyan

The banyan was a loose, full kimono style in the early 18th century, but later evolved into a more fitted style with set-in sleeves, similar to a man’s coat. It was known as an Indian gown, nightgown, morning gown, or dressing gown. First used as a type of robe, it was originally worn for leisure and in at-home situations; but came to be worn as a coat out-of-doors, in the street, or for business. Many gentlemen had their portraits made while wearing banyans. They were made from all types of fabrics in cotton, silk, or wool (Cunningham, 1984). – Cross cultural influences on fashion prior to the twentieth Century

Nicholas Boylston in a loose fitting banyan, 1767. Painted by John Singleton Copeley. Image @Wikipedia

More on the Topic

Tartan wool banyan lined in bottle green silk, 1800. Image @Christie's


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Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England, opened on February 5 and will run for a full year. The cost of the exhibition is free for those who purchase tickets to see the Royal Pavilion & Museums at Brighton.

The fashions look at the life of George IV as Prince, Regent and King through the clothes of the late Georgian period and how they have influenced fashions today. The king’s silk and velvet coronation robe, trimmed in ermine and over 16 feet in length, will be on public display for the first time in 30 years. Other clothes in the exhibition include a dandy’s costume, military uniform worn at the Battle of Waterloo, and neoclassical influenced silk and muslin gowns.

The costumes are displayed in rooms in the Royal Pavilion. The links below feature a number of beautiful examples in the exhibition. Lucky is the person who plans to visit Brighton within this calendar year!

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