The Regency Half-Dress Page

Copyright Cathy Decker
"Half Dress" is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to grasp about Regency Fashion. Basically it is any dress halfway between Undress and Full Dress, or between informal dress (designed for wearing in the home in the morning or going out for a walk, to pay a call, to a picture exhibit, or even on a boat ride) and formal dress to be worn at late evening events such as private card parties, soirees, and balls. Half dress covers everything in between. It is usually lower cut that morning dress and may have a train. The fabrics are often richer than morning dress fabrics, but need not be as elaborate as evening wear. Half dress is worn from the afternoon to the early evening; anytime from five to seven, the lady might alter her dress to "full" dress. The most common names for half-dress in fashion journals are afternoon dress, half-full dress, dinner dress, and opera dress. In the 1790-1805, evening or full dress might be worn to the opera; however, by the Regency "Proper," opera dress was much more casual, clearly "half" dress. On rare occasions "Promenade Dress" is listed as "Half-Promenade Dress" or some such name that indicates it is meant for a very late promenade, perhaps in a curricle around Hyde Park or some other fashionable London Park. When promenade dress is particularly extravagant, it is usually meant to be worn for late afternoon calls or outings and is more properly half dress than undress.

To See Other Types of Women's Clothes

To Return to the Regency Fashion Page

To Return to the Regency Page