WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Huckle My Buff

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Huckle My Buff

Why this slang term ever went out of style, I’ll never know, when it’s so much fun to say. I don’t care if people quit drinking the concoction. I really think I need to appropriate this term for my own purposes.

Bless Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty for heading down to Harveys Brewery and leading the charge to bring this drink back for the recognition and regular usage the name alone deserves. While we’re in the midst of the dog days of summer and it’s hard to summon the desire to drink a steaming hot beverage, just file this one away for the wintery months around the corner.

Well, around several corners for a few of us.

Harveys Brewery Lewes East Sussex.

Huckle My Buff

Beer, egg, and brandy, made hot.

This early 18th century drink combined the three ingredients above, but also sugar and nutmeg, if one had it to hand. A pint of beer was combined with an egg, then heated with a hot poker so that it wouldn’t boil but would come nearly to the scald. Another pint of beer was mixed in, plus sugar, nutmeg, and brandy to taste. And you definitely served it hot.

In true modern, chef de cuisine fashion, Oliver and Doherty have updated this old chestnut of a recipe with the addition of ginger juice and cognac, and by using nitrous oxide and a sous vide rather than the red-hot fireplace poker. To each his own, I suppose.

The 21st Century Huckle My Buff

Fresh Egg Yolk
150ml Harveys Porter
35ml Cognac
20g Muscovado sugar
30ml ginger juice/Liqueur

Gently blend all ingredients on a slow speed, then warm in a saucepan, gently stirring with a whisk. Pour into a warmed glass and finish with freshly grated nutmeg.

To make it like Jamie and Jimmy, whisk one fresh egg yolk then slowly whisk in 20 grams of muscovado sugar, 35ml of cognac, 150ml of Harvey’s Stout Beer, and 0.8ml of ginger juice. Pour the mixture into a soda syphon; close and charge with nitrous oxide. Gently warm the soda syphon to 60°C in a sous vide bath. Discharge the warmed syhpon into a glass and finish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Jamie Oliver and his Huckle My Buff at Harveys Brewery in Lewes, East Sussex. Courtesy Harveys.


WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bub

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bub

It’s drinking month! With recipes!

“I had once determined to go with Frank to-morrow and take my chance, &c., but they dissuaded me from so rash a step, as I really think on consideration it would have been; for if the Pearsons were not at home, I should inevitably fall a sacrifice to the arts of some fat woman who would make me drunk with small beer.”
~Jane Austen to Cassandra, 1796


Strong beer.

The Ale-House Door by Henry Singleton, circa 1790, Yale University Press.

This week’s recipe comes courtesy 19th century Yorkshire handyman Thomas Denton, who was through paying outrageous pub prices for his pints and came up with his own less expensive home brew. This recipe produces 72 pints, so clean out your cupboards or make this around the holidays to share as gifts. But Mr. Denton was correct about his savings; his total cost was three shillings three pence (about £8.05 total/11p a pint today). Not too shabby.

Recipe for Cheap Beer

Put one peck of barley or of oats into an oven just after baking, or into a frying pan first to steam off the moisture, and dry it well, but on no account to burn the grain then grind or bruise it roughly.

Boil two gallons of water and pour it into a tub and when it has stood 10 minutes (say a heat of 175 degrees, or so hot as to pain the finger sharply) put in the grain; mash it well, and let it stand three hours: then drain it off.

Boil two gallons more water, which power [pour] on the grains, rather hotter than before but not boiling, say 196 degrees, and mash them well and let it stand two hours and draw it off. Mash the grains again well with two gallons more water, and in 1 1/2 hours draw it off. The three worts will be about five gallons.

Then mix 7lbs of treacle in five gallons of water, and boil the whole 10 gallons with 4oz of Hopes for 1 1/2 hours, taking care to stir it so long as the Hops float off the top.

Let it cool and when about milk warm take a good teacupful of yeast; and stir it well together beginning with about a gallon of the wort at a time.

Let it ferment for 18 Hours in a tub covered with a sack: put it into a nine gallon cask and keep it well filled: bung it up in three days, and in 14 days it will be good sound fine beer equal to London Porter.

The nine gallons of beer thus brewed will cost as follows –

1 Peck of Barley 1s 3d
7lbs of Treacle 1s 9d
4oz of Hops 3d

Cost 3s 3d

If you cannot get Treacle take 5lbs of the cheapest and darkest sugar you can get; this is better for your purpose than finer

Mix 14lbs of Treacle and 11 gallons of water well together, and boil them for two hours with 6oz of hops.

When quite cool; add a teacupful of yeast and stir it well, by a gallon or two at a time;

Let it ferment for 16 hours in a tub covered with a sack: then put it into a nine gallon cask, and keep it well filled up.

Bung it down in two days – and in seven days it will be fit to drink; and will be stronger beer than London Porter.

This is the simplest as it requires no skill: a washing copper or tea kettle are the only requisites: and nine gallons of beer can be obtained at the following cost –

14lb of Treacle 3s 6d
6oz of Hopes 4d

Cost 3s 10d

Recipe for Cheap Beer by Thomas Denton, circa 1825, courtesy Daily Mail.

Recipe for Cheap Beer Recipe by Thomas Denton, circa 1825, courtesy Daily Mail.

Descriptions of Battles by Sea and Land, attributed to Robert Dighton, circa 1801, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.


WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nugging Dress

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nugging Dress

As July pulls to a close, so do my posts on ladies fashion, and it seems rather fitting to end on those on the outer rim, whether they be behind the time or ‘those of whom we do not speak in polite circles.’

Nugging Dress

An out-of-the-way old-fashioned dress, or rather a loose kind of dress, denoting a courtesan.

The National Portrait Gallery has a fine biography of Emma Hamilton, the daughter of a Cheshire blacksmith who changed her name and became several artists’ muses, an exclusive courtesan, wife to a diplomat, mistress to the hero of Trafalgar, and fascinating woman of history. I highly recommend a visit to read and see their profile of the wily and enigmatic Emma Hamilton. There are many fine portraits of her in a variety of nugging dresses, to boot.

In more visual terms of this week’s word, I turn to William Hogarth. This artist was known to get on a moralistic bent now and again, and in his two-fer series entitled Before and After he painted three different versions of the same scene, the before and after effects of a sexual encounter between a man and a woman, each one progressively more dreary and censorious. While the Before paintings show a scene of idyll, the After-s show the women to be utterly fallen.

The first group is the most benign, satirizing French pastoral paintings that showed men making passionate vows of love to ladies in natural settings. The man is all heroic and the lady is pure coquette in the first scene. By the second, however, the more sordid nature of the encounter is apparent. As are the man’s genitals. And yes, these two are the mildest of the three examples.

Before by William Hogarth, 1730-31, lent by the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to the Tate Museum.

After by William Hogarth, 1730-31, lent by the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to the Tate Museum.

The second pair of Before and After art is more direct: attempt at persuasion from the so-called gentleman is gone and coercion is now the strategy. In the first panel, the woman is not flirting by rather trying to flee, knocking over her dressing table in the process. By the second panel, the man is through, and the woman has moved on to what seems to be an appeal, for discretion or protection, possibly.

Before by William Hogarth, between 1730-31, Getty Center.

After by William Hogarth, between 1730-31, Getty Center.

The third set of Before and After paintings is actual a set of six – the series A Harlot’s Progress. The first three represent the before and the last three, the after.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate One: Moll Hackabout arrives in London and meets Mother Needham, a notorious procuress. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Two: Moll is Mistress to a wealthy Jewish man. She creates a diversion to allow a second lover to escape. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Three: Moll, in a reduced state, takes tea while bailiffs enter her lodgings. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Four: Moll beats hemp in Bridewell Prison. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Five: Moll is dying while two doctors aruge over her treatment. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Six: Moll’s coffin is surrounded by a group of insincere mourners. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Fallalls

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Fallalls

One of my favorite scenes in my not-so-favorite Pride and Prejudice adaptation of 2005, is where Mrs. Bennet admonishes everyone to “behave naturally” as she shoos them about the room in a mad cleaning session before Mr. Bingley (and the pompous one, Mr. Darcy) return to Longbourn.

Almost one minute in, we hear Jane beseech Mary to toss her “the ribbons, the ribbons, the ribbons.” And then we see a giant ball of fabric pieces fly across the room to be hidden behind the sofa.


Ornaments, chiefly women’s, such as ribands, necklaces, etc.

It’s not difficult to find examples of the myriad ribbons ladies used to decorate their dresses and trim their bonnets. My post last week illustrated one year in the life of hats and embellishments. So this week I’d rather look at period jewelry. To wear too much was to be vulgar, but there were still plenty of beautiful pieces to be treasured and admired.

In terms of jewelry classification, it’s all Georgian. The Georgian Era is defined as the time covered during the reigns of all the Georges in England – the First, beginning in 1714 and the Fourth, ending in 1830. Some include the reign of William IV from 1830-1837, as he was the third son of the third George. This period also overlaps with the long eighteenth century (which began with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and ended with the Battle of Waterloo).

Now that we’re all inundated with somewhat superfluous data for this discussion, let’s talk Georgian jewelry.

Because a lot happened in England (and around the world) during the Georgian Era, and the four Georges were, after all, four distinctly different men, jewelry of this time period enjoys some variety. While the French had their Louis kings and then the Empire style of Napoleon, the Georgian aesthetic traveled the world. After all, the sun never set on the British Empire.

Antique Jewelry University posits that when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and caused the Huguenots to flee France, they fled to Germany, Holland, and England – the three countries responsible for the bloodlines of the Glorious Revolution(aries) and the Hanoverian Georges. The most interesting fact of this emigration is that a large percentage of the Huguenot emigrés were artisans and designers. Jewelry designers.

Merci, Sun King.

Georgian Era gold was 18K or higher and completely handcrafted (however, as noted below in the examples I found, much seemed to also be 9K). Iron and steel were also popular and valued metals, and were heavily utilized during this period. World exploration, as well as English mineral deposits, yielded an abundance of materials for jewelry design. Pieces featured a myriad of stones: garnets, topaz, emeralds, rubies, diamonds, corals, amber, ivory, pearls, turquoise, agates, and carnelian. Items were designed as strands of beads, parures, demi-parures, mourning pieces, cameos, and intaglios. Wedgewood even got into the jewelry-making game with their popular Jasperware.

And because thievery was also a profitable occupation during this period, imitation jewelry likewise enjoyed popularity. You were just as apt to see a lady wearing diamonds or emeralds as you were paste, faux pearls, opaline glass, Vauxhall glass, or tassies.

But enough with the history. Let’s get to the looking. Some of these are men’s pieces, so not technically fallalls, but I simply couldn’t pass them.

Cross pendant, gold with closed back set with central pearl surrounded by garnet, emerald, sapphire, zircon, ruby, chrysoberyl cat’s eye, and amethyst. Circa 1800, British Museum

Georgian Emerald Paste Parure, ca 1810, of 9K gold in rivière setting, seen in portrait of Madame Recamier painted by Jean-Louis David.

Fan comb, ca 1810-1820, private collection of N. Garbett.

Turquoise Cannitille Drop Earrings, ca 1820, with torquoise beads in the cannitille manner, supported by an open work design drop consisting of a lace-like gold, The Three Graces.

Lovers Eye Brooch ca 1840, miniature painting in oval frame of 10k yellow gold with heart motif and ribbon border, with glass covered locket and braided sprig of blonde-brown hair on reverse, The Three Graces.

Gold demi-parure of brooch and earrings set with turquoise and small diamonds set as forget-me-not sprays, ca 1840, British Museum.

Wedgewood Plaque Jasperware with Birmingham Cut Steel Border, ca 1790, British Museum.

Pair of tiny gold studs of pointed oval shape with bright-cut borders, with monogram WA with fronds, all in hair under glass and set onto a short post. Backplates engraved ‘FP 1788’, British Museum.

Mourning Ring, ca 1800, courtesy Dickensian Dandy.

Gold comb of leafy oak twig entwined with wreath of forget-me-nots surmounted by bird with ruby eye and ring in beak, on trembler spring. The branch is set with gemstones whose initials spell ‘dearest’ from diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire and turquoise. There is a hair compartment in the reverse of the bird. Circa 1830, British Museum.

Double cravat pin of gold, enamel, and tourquoise, with first pin featuring Prince of Wales three feathers design, in torquoise and enamel, which is linked by a detachable torquoise-set chain to the companion pin headed in a raspberry design. Such double pins were very fashionable in the first half of the 19th century. Circa 1800-1820. Museum of London

And from the Royal Collection Trust, from Rundell Bridge & Rundell, official jeweler of the Prince Regent, later George IV:

Brooch with an intaglio of George IV. Siberian amethyst, diamonds; gold collet mount, framed by open scroll-shaped mounts in silver set with smaller brilliants, interspersed with eight larger cushion-cut diamonds, silver-gilt open back and brooch pin. Circa 1820-30, Royal Collection Trust.

Brooch with a cameo of the four Georges Cameo: 1820; Brooch: 1820 with later additions, Royal Collection Trust. Sardonyx: white on brown; diamonds, wreath of laurel and palm leaves set with rose-cut diamonds in silver mounts on a matted yellow-gold ground, surmounted by a diamond-set crown. The reverse with later open mount of red gold with brooch pin and slide loops.

Cast of George IV’s crown 1821, Royal Collection Trust. Gilt bronze, velvet, ermine.


WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rum Topping

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rum Topping

I had two slang terms to choose from for this week’s topic, and I chose the nicer one, If I do so say myself. Or at least the one you can use and not have to explain again that the word “does not mean what you think it means.”

Rum Topping

A rich commode, or woman’s head-dress.

That’s right. The other terms is commode, also meaning a woman’s head-dress. I can’t wait to see an author use commode with the correct context in a Regency romance!

Whether a lady purchased her hat ready-made from a milliner or bought a simple poke bonnet and trimmed it herself, every lady wore something on her head. So yes, no lady would be caught without her commode. Styles changed from year to year, but the frugal lady could simply change out her ribbons and other embellishments to refurbish last season’s chapeaux.

I’m not saying I wish bonnets were still mandatory head wear, but I am saying if I could somehow carry of wearing them, I would seriously own some bonnets. And be a great proficient at trimming them.

This is a busy writing/editing week for me, so I’m going to go short on written details but heavy on the visual aids. I also have terrific sites that did a much better job of explaining Regency headgear than I could hope to do. Those sites follow the eye candy.

Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers’, but I have never seen any of them in hats… Elizabeth has given me a hat, and it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty style of hat too. It is something like Eliza’s, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon. I flatter myself, however, that you can understand very little of it from this description. Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to explanations as to give a clear one on any occasion myself! But I must write no more of this…
Letter from Jane Austen to her sister, Cassandra
Queen’s Square, Bath
June 2, 1799

From Costumes Parisien, 1810:

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1037.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1044.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1049.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1056.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1058.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1064.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1084.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1098.

From Costumes Parisien, 1810, Plate No. 1107,

For hats from the 1812 Costume Parisien (they dropped the final ‘s’ on Costume that year), follow this Pinterest link:



PS: The Heir and Dear Husband were on an adventure with a group of other teens and parents this week, and some of their explorations took them to Kentucky. This past Saturday they were in the Louisville area, and the girls in their expedition stumbled upon The 10th Annual Jane Austen Festival (featuring Persuasion: 200 years of piercing souls!), proudly hosted by the Jane Austen Society of North America, Greater Louisville Region Chapter. They had no appointment to visit as it was just a spur-of-the-moment decision, but they were cordially welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. And I was as happy for them as I was green with envy.

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.   ~ Jane Austen

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rigging

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rigging

Regency era ladies must have sighed with relief when fashions evolved from the large skirts, thick panniers, and elaborate wigs of the late 18th century to the simpler, empire-waisted, silhouette dresses of the 19th century. Dressing would be so much simpler.

Or would it?

Let’s make a stop in a Regency lady’s dressing room.


Clothing. Rum Rigging:  fine clothes.


The Shift ~ Also known as a chemise, this thin, white linen or cotton precursor to the modern-day slip was worn right next to the skin, as it was much easier to clean than the next article of clothing, the stays (it was also kinder and more comfortable to the skin). It had a square neckline and could be short-sleeved or sleeveless. The shift was also long, falling to just above the knee or even the ankle.

Chemise/Shift, linen, 1810s. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Stays ~ Also known as a corset (though not the larger, full torso-covering and whalebone-laden corsets of the Victorian era), stays were worn as a support for the bust and to aid proper posture. They looked much more like a modern brassiere or bustier than the fuller-length Georgian or Victorian corsets. Stays were made of a medium weight, tightly-woven linen or cotton and, depending on the bust size of the lady, might have cording to provide extra support. There were three types of stays: short (covering just the bust), transitional (covering the bust with a bit of material underneath for added support), and full with a busk (the precursor to the full, Victorian corset). Stays were worn over the shift/chemise.

Transitional stays, circa 1800, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Petticoat ~ This garment was worn just underneath the gown, over the stays and shift. A petticoat could be functional, providing an extra layer of warmth or modesty, or merely decorative. The ornamental petticoats were embellished with lace or embroidery, and were meant to be seen when worn under sheer (even dampened) or robe-style gowns, or peeking under the hems of shorter overdresses. Petticoats could be made of muslin, flannel, silk, or cotton, and only one was worn at a time (unlike the layers of the Georgians or coming Victorians).

Decorative petticoat with shoulder straps, reproduction, Oregon Regency Society.

The Stockings ~ Stockings were made of silk, cotton, or flannel, in descending order of desirability of material. They came in a variety of colors, but during the Regency most were white, ivory, or pale pink. Garters were worn above the knee and held in place by ribbons or garters. Lace and embroidery could be added for extra decoration.


Pair of knitted silk stockings, 1800-1829, England, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Chemisette ~ This was an optional piece that was caught in between underthings and things to be seen. It was a thin half-shirt, similar to the modern-day shrug, for lack of a better descriptor. It covered the neck, decollétage, and shoulders. As Kristen Koster put it, “basically a white lawn dickey with a high collar.”

Chemisette, circa 1840s , British, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Drawers ~ Did they or didn’t they? Princess Charlotte wore an ankle-length pair in 1811, allowing them to peek from under her dress, causing Lady de Clifford to complain and the public in general to think her fast. The consensus seems to fall that drawers were around, but ladies of good breeding did not wear them.


The Morning Dress ~ Also known as the Domestic Dress, this informal gown could be worn anytime during the day while at home doing domestic tasks, such as addressing correspondence or visiting the nursery. They were generally high-necked and long-sleeved, and made from sprigged or plain muslin, cotton, or wool. The style was often a “round gown,” meaning the bodice and skirt were made from one piece of material.

Morning or Domestic Dresses from Mirror of the Graces, 1813.

The Walking Dress ~ When a lady left her home during the day, she went about in a Walking Dress. Depending on the season, sleeves could be long or short, but the bodice was generally higher than those worn in the evening. The hem was often higher to aid in cleanliness while out on the streets and pathways. These dresses were often paired with coordinating outerwear (such as spencers or pelisses below).

Walking Dress, Costume Parisien, 1814, Plate no. 149.

The Promenade Dress ~ Not your average Walking Dress, but one meant to be seen in gadding about the Park. The difference between this and a Walking Dress was the richness of the fabric, and the hemlines were lower.

Promenade Dresses from Mirror of the Graces, 1811.

The Riding Habit ~ Meant for riding (go figure!), these garments were constructed of a sturdy fabric like wool, that could take the punishment of mounting, riding, and dismounting horses. They were cut to resemble an overcoat, sometimes with a military flair, with embellishments kept to a minimum. Skirts were long and full, and cut longer on one side to accommodate side saddle riding.

Riding Habit, Lady’s Magazine, June 1817.

The Evening Gown ~ Now we’re getting into the fancy, possibly low-cut, and definitely substantially trimmed dress for activities after dark. Fabrics of choice were muslin, silk, gauze, and crepe…but pretty much anything went for these garments. Sleeves could be long or short, and a few featured merely wide straps that sat on the curve of the shoulder. The feature that I adore – the short train – began to lose its popularity after 1812.

Evening Gown, May 1809, Ackermann’s Repository.

The Ball Gown ~ Exquisitely trimmed frocks with rich fabric and elaborate construction were the quintessential hallmarks of the Ball Gown. These dresses usually consisted of one under layer (of satin, crepe, velvet, or the like) topped by an over-dress (of gauze, sarsnet, or gossamer muslin). Every hem and fastening was decorated with all manner of lace, artificial flowers, feathers, beads, jewels, flounces, scallops, embroidery, and other fine adornments. Many believe unmarried ladies were restricted to white and pastel colors, although no historical proof has surfaced to corroborate this. Popular colors of the time were indeed pastels (rose, lavender, ivory, and primrose yellow), as well as scarlet, slate, apple-hued Pomona green, bright canary yellow, and puce.

Regency Era Ball Gowns from author Sharon Lathan’s image gallery for her novel, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy.


The Pelisse ~ This overcoat was fitted but not tight, and was worn over a lady’s dress. It could be full- or knee-length, with fastenings from neck to ankle in the front. Pelisses were made from heavier fabrics such as wool, velvet, brocade, or kerseymere. They were also ornately trimmed with fur, swansdown, cordings, or other decoration. Similar to a pelisse is the Redingote, an English corruption of the French “riding coat.” These garments were long, fitted coats that belted at the waist but fell open down the legs to reveal the gown underneath.

Pelisse coats, circa 1812, Ackermann’s Repository.

Redingote de Levantine, Costume Parisien, 1811.

The Spencer ~ This garment was similar to a jacket but only covered the bodice and sleeves, accentuating the era’s empire waist gowns. Spencers were made from wool, silk, or satin, and were often quilted. Similar to the pelisse, they were heavily decorated, usually with embroidery, ornate stitching, or cording, and often cut to resemble a gentleman’s riding coat, without the tails.

Pink wool spencer, Costume Parisiene, Plate no. 125, 29 May 1799, Google Arts and Culture.

The Mantle ~ These garments could also be called cloaks or mantlets. They were worn in the evening for formal events, with the attached hood worn over the head or laying about the shoulders. Their length ranged from a cape that fell to the waist, to a billowing, full-length cloak.

Jubilee Cloak, 1809, La Belle Assemblée, Museum of London.

The Shawl ~ This must-have accessory could be made of muslin, gauze, or silk for warmer months, or wool, velvet, or cashmere for cooler times. They ranged in style from plain, solid colors to vibrant, intricate patterns.

Shawls from Costume Parisien, Plate no. 23, 1810.


Next week ~ head coverings!


WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bedizened

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Bedizened

The men have had their turn to preen; this month it’s ladies fashions in the world of slang. Might as well start at the passionately overdone top.


Dressed out, over-dressed, or awkwardly ornamented.

Closeup of the exuberant finery of Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

When I think of over-dressed ladies, I picture the Bingley sisters from Pride and Prejudice. After all, their first mention reveals:

His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion.

Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst inspecting the crowd at the Netherfield Ball, Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

This is like saying someone has a nice personality when you ask how they look.

Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst at the Netherfield Ball, Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank, and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade.

So here we learn they had money and, likely because of their antecedents in trade, were inclined to spend that money in pursuit of rank and position. They would have known the Shakespeare quote, “the apparel oft proclaims the man,” and knew that by keeping up with current fashion, they were proclaiming their wealth and place in society. I’m inclined to think this is why they are dressed so ostentatiously in certain adaptations of the book.

But that’s none of our business. Tea time for Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Because the 1940 version utilized costumes from the antebellum south, and the 2005 version inexplicably omitted one-half of the persnickety sister-duo (yet included the pig and his nethers waltzing through the Bennet house…but I digress), I’ve chosen to illustrate bedizened ladies with the Bingley sister costumes from the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I found an article in The Sydney Morning Herald from March 1996 that included an interview with this version’s costume designer, Dinah Collin. She stated to demonstrate the difference in wealth between the Bingley and Bennet sisters, she chose to dress the former in brightly colored silks with plenty of embellishment.

The extent of their adornment needed therefore to be greater. I did this with bright yellow and cerise pink silks, feathers and brooches.

Costume Designer Dinah Collin’s sketch for one of Caroline Bingley’s costumes, complete with notes and finished product, courtesy Frock Flicks.

Boy, did she ever! They were bedizened within an inch of their lives to help illustrate the difference in their monetary stations. I think it worked.


  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • See the full article, Sense and Sensuality, in the 6 March 1996 edition of The Sydney Morning Herald (I’ve included the link but you’ll need a subscription to see it, unfortunately).
  • You can also read interesting excerpts and see more costuming ideas and inspiration from the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice adaptation at FrockFlicks.
  • And yes, because this word was about going overboard, it took all I had in me not to use the word Austen-tacious instead of ostentatious. You’re welcome.