The Georgian era of British history is a period which takes its name from, and is normally defined as spanning the reigns of the first four Hanoverian kings of Great Britain who were all named George: George I, George II, George III and George IV. The era covers the period from 1714 to 1830, with the sub-period of the Regency defined by the Regency of George IV as Prince of Wales during the illness of his father George III. The definition of the Georgian era is often extended to include the short reign of William IV, which ended with his death in 1837. The last Hanoverian monarch of the Great Britain was William’s niece Queen Victoria, who is the namesake of the following historical era, the Victorian, which is usually defined as occurring from the start of her reign, when William died, and continuing until her death.
The Georgians were serious about fashion From head to toe, Young and old, everyday
European-influenced countries saw the final triumph of undress or informal styles over the brocades, lace, periwigs and powder of the earlier 18th century.
For women’s dress, the day to day outfit of the skirt and jacket style were practical and tactful, recalling the working class woman. Women’s fashions followed classical ideals, and tightly laced corsets were temporarily abandoned in favor of a high-waisted, natural figure. This natural figure was emphasized by being able to see the body beneath the clothing. Visible breasts were part of this classical look, and some characterized the breasts in fashion as solely aesthetic and sexual.
In Britain, Beau Brummell introduced trousers, perfect tailoring, and unadorned, immaculate linen as the ideals of men’s fashion.
By the end of the eighteenth century, a major shift in fashion was taking place that extended beyond changes in mere style to changes in philosophical and social ideals. Prior to this time, the style and traditions of the “Ancien Régime” prevented the conceptualization of “the self”. Instead, one’s identity was considered malleable; subject to change depending on what clothes one was wearing. However, by the 1780s, the new, “natural” style allowed one’s inner self to transcend their clothes.
During the 1790s, there was a new concept of the internal and external self. Before this time, there had only been one self, which was expressed through clothing. When going to a masquerade ball, people wore specific clothing, so they could not show their individuality though their clothing. Since, for everyday dress, most people wore similar clothing, people used accessories to show their individuality. These accessories and the detail on the clothing were more important than the shape of the dress.
Incorporated in this new “natural” style was the importance of ease and comfort of one’s dress. Not only was there a new emphasis on hygiene, but also clothing became much lighter and more able to be changed and washed frequently. Even upper class women began wearing cropped dresses as opposed to dresses with long trains or hoops that restricted them from leaving their homes. In a sense, women were influenced by male fashion, such as tailored waistcoats and jackets to emphasize women’s mobility. This new movement toward practicality of dress showed that dress no longer was a way to categorize between classes or genders; dress was meant to suit one’s personal daily routine.