Black Regency Shoes: Wear Them, They Existed

Our Fit for a Queen pre-order is well underway! This collection is all 18th century and Regency, with no shortage of sumptuous satin loveliness. Included in this loveliness are no less than FIVE new colors of Penelope Regency slippers! One of these new colorways is a very sleek black version of Penelope, complete with Penelope’s signature embroidery and spangles (which stand out gorgeously on the black satin, by the way).

Now, there’s a reason that “Do you make it in black?” is a question for the ages. Black shoes are super versatile. But if you are a Regency costumer, you may have found yourself nervous about black slippers. When we think “Regency”, what comes to mind? Lizzie Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, of course, along with frothy evening gowns, floaty muslins, empire waists, spencer jackets, and light pastels and cheery color tones. The idea of a black slipper may conflict with this image, and make one question if black shoes are really an accurate choice.

The answer is yes, yes it is! We have proof of black slippers in the form of fashion plates, paintings, and extant examples, and not just paired with black and grey outfits, either. Black shoes and slippers were worn with all manner of ensembles in contrasting colors. Today, we’re going to show some examples of black Regency shoes to back it up.


Costumes Allemands et Francois, 1817, French. From the collection at the V&A Museum.

This lovely French fashion plate shows off a ballgown on the left (need this ASAP!?), along with a splendid blue walking day dress, complete with a matching spencer bodice and bonnet. The shoes, as you can see, are not matching blue, but rather a black slipper with laces.

Costumes Allemands et Francois, 1817, French. From the collection at the V&A Museum.

From the same place and year, we have another fashion plate featuring two women’s day dresses in light color palettes. The ensemble on the left features light blue stripes and red flowers, finished with red-edged ruffles and a unique straw bonnet. The figure on the right wears mostly white, with no shortage of puffs and trim. The shoes- both black slippers, just like the first fashion plate! Fun fact- the V&A acquired the collection of fashion plates these first two examples are from V&A in 1957 when, after the combined houses of Paquin and Worth closed , the Worth/Paquin archives and design books were donated to the museum.


Costumes Allemands et Francois, 1817, French. From the collection at the V&A Museum.

Okay, one last example from 1817. More day dresses in light colors, and the figure in the yellow and white ensemble is wearing black slippers once again!


Promenade Dresses, c. 1804, British. From the collection at the V&A Museum.

A couple of lovely promenade dresses, complete with vibrant bonnets and a nice big muff. Madame on the left has white slippers, while the figure on the right has black slippers.


Morning and evening dresses, Winter 1818, British. From the collection at Claremont Colleges.

This fashion plate from 1818 is quite interesting. Nowhere on the plate itself or in the item’s archival description is mourning mentioned, but these ensembles look pretty full-mourning to me; all black and grey outfits, without shiny fabrics, suggest full mourning. Mourning attire is a step removed from fashion at large, but it’s interesting to see an evening ensemble in such dark tones.

Autumn dresses, Winter 1818, British. From the collection at Claremont Colleges.

Ooh, aren’t these darling? The figure on the right wears an ensemble of green and white, with black shoes.


Walking and Evening dresses, 1811, British. From the collection at Claremont Colleges.

Black slippers once again, this time paired with evening dress.


London dresses, 1808, British. From the collection at Claremont Colleges.

Another Regency fashion plate from London, featuring black slippers paired with evening wear on the right. The ancient Greek inspiration is strong on this one!


Black slippers, c. 1800-1824, from the collection at the V&A Museum.

And here’s proof in the form of some extant slippers themselves- these bow-bedecked beauties are by French shoemaker Melnotte, made from satin with a silk ribbon.


Black slippers, c. 1810-1820, from the collection at the Manchester Museum.

One more for good measure! These black silk slippers from Britain feature little rosettes. Aren’t they nice?

So, there you have it. You can wear your black satin Penelope Regency slippers with all manner of ensembles, and take advantage of their truly versatile nature. We just can’t wait to see pictures of you wearing your Penelopes once they arrive!

The Fit for a Queen collection is available for $20/€20 off each pair from June 23 through July 7 in our US and UK/EU stores. We expect them to be delivered in October/November 2023. Limited edition Gilded Charlottes are available ONLY during this two-week pre-order period, so make sure you grab yours by July 7!

Pre-Order is Open
June 23 – July 7, 2023
$20/€20 Discount Per Pair
AmericanDuchess.com


3 Comments

  • Brittany

    June 29, 2023 at 8:50 PM

    This is wonderful! And so fun!

    However, I have a correction. You keep citing “Claremont College,” but the Claremont Colleges are made up of a consortium of several separate institutions, including my own alma mater, Scripps College. Scripps (a women’s college) contains the Ella Strong Dennison Library, where some of these fashion plates are found. So it wouldn’t be hard to put “the Claremont Colleges” if you’d like to keep it simple. Stating Scripps College would be nice… but that involves a little more research than you might be willing to do 😉

    Thanks,
    Brittany H.

    Reply

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