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Poufs, Panache and Panniers

Oh dear, I've abandoned Lady Eleanor, along with Lord and Lady Bentwood, at sea!

Temporarily, of course, they’ll just have to bob about in the water as another story has tugged me away, to a very special Christmas when Lady Eleanor is an unmarried woman of twenty-two.

We're still in the Georgian era, but earlier than the Regency. This is England, in 1776, where politics, views and fashion are a tad different than those of the rebels across the pond. A generation before high waists and slim lines, or the simple, more natural hair styles, of the Jane Austen set. The early Georgians were extravagant and dramatic, brimming with flair and whimsy.

Marie Antoinette, Queen of France for the past two years, still has her head, hair towering as much as three feet. This pouf style becomes more elegant with a spray of feathers, or panache. The same term we use to describe a person with that special stylistic something, "Oh, yes, he has panache!" Though it no longer refers to just feathers.

The Regency is refined simplicity, a dramatic reversal from the previous generation of drama and grandiosity. Forsome, back then, a feather just didn't do the trick. Simply too simple. For those, nothing short of a full model of a ship or horse or whatever they deemed appropriate to adorn their head.

This was the age of hair powder, hence the term 'powder room'. White wigs were expensive, an illustration of wealth. Powdering your hair saved the cost of a wig but white was not always the color of choice. Pinks and blues were as much in vogue then, as they are today. Check out Kirsten Dunst in the movie Marie Antoinette.

Gowns refused to be outdone by coif and feathers! As high as the hair, skirts were wide, thanks to panniers’ hoops. Bodices were rigid, inflexible, using the same materials used to create the hoops: linen over whalebone or cane stays.

In every-day life, hoops were tamer, the silhouette rounder rather than oblong. With both styles, ornately printed or painted, Indienne was the fabric of the day. You may know it as madras. Of course, the Georgians didn't leave it at that, they added intricate needlework designs.

Necklines were low and square and often required a fichu (large scarves) tucked about the neckline for both modesty and warmth.

At the bottom of Georgian fashion ~ shoes. Heeled, buckled and exquisitely decorated.

Pattens, leather and wood platforms fixed on an iron frame, were worn to protect the shoes from muddy wet paths. Simply slip those delicate shoes into the pattens and off you go, tottering down the lane.

Lady Eleanor, our Regency sleuth the Lady Eleanor Mysteries are named after, will be stuffing hoops and hair fillers and dainty shoes into trunks. Traveling over Christmas, she's off to meet the man she's meant to marry. Murder that needs investigating forces Eleanor, and the man courting her, to decide just what they expect from marriage.

Unlike the books in this series, where Lady Eleanor nudges reluctant or misguided couples to recognize what they have right there, by their side, this will be Eleanor's story. Her heart will be the one on the line. This time, in need of a bit of nudging herself.

The Anthology: CHRISTMAS EVER AFTER, due for release October 2018, includes Lady Eleanor's Christmas and her love story.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for those folks stranded at sea. I promise, they will not be left to bob about forever ... or even long. The Journey is due for release January 2019.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lady Eleanor, here's a chance to get acquainted with Summerton and The Gatehouse.

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© 2013 Becca St John