Feeling inspired by the beautiful fashions of Netflix’s hit original series Bridgerton? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s your guide on how to achieve a Regency worthy aesthetic that won’t break the bank...or force you to reevaluate your whole closet. While period dramas (such as Autumn de Wilde’s 2020 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma) have a gorgeous candy-colored aesthetic, it is Bridgerton that has taken the cake for fashion inspiration. I’m no Lady Whistledown, but I predict we’ll be seeing some Regency-era inspired fashions on the runway this spring. So, dear reader, now’s your chance to become “the diamond of society” just like Daphne Bridgerton!
Empire Silhouettes and Pastels
The Regency era is defined by many things: the reign of King George III — during which the American Revolution took place in the American Colonies — the publication of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice, social refinement among Britain’s upper class, and its distinct classical-inspired fashion. Inspired by the romanticization of Roman mythology, culture, and fashion towards the end of the Georgian-era, dresses in the empire silhouette rose to prominence. Constructed using light-colored, long, and airy fabrics, Regency dresses invoked a sense of youthfulness and purity. Necklines were often cut in a square shape, sleeves were worn at a variety of lengths, and hems were anywhere between ankle to floor-length depending on the age of the wearer. Though these dresses were brought in at the waist and commonly emphasized by colorful ribbons, they were fitted quite loosely in comparison to the fashions of the Restoration era.
While the empire silhouette has not made a major comeback recently, it’s still possible to find modernized versions of the style. Babydoll dresses are constructed in a very similar way and are just as romantic and youthful as their predecessors. A quick google search brings up thousands of different options from brands such as Madewell, PacSun, and Anthropologie. If you’re feeling particularly inspired by specific fashions worn by characters like Daphne Bridgerton, take some time to find baby doll dresses that resemble some of her Regency-era dresses. Etsy also has a selection of gorgeous period-accurate dresses that are made to order. I promise you’ll find something fit for a Bridgerton style ball!
While watching Bridgerton, I found myself immediately drawn to the gorgeous hairstyles worn by characters like Marina Thompson, Queen Charlotte, and Daphne Bridgerton. It should be noted, however, that many of the styles in Bridgerton were more modern takes than those worn in the Regency era. Hairstyling during the Regency era, like its gorgeous fashions, drew inspiration from styles worn by women in ancient Rome — or at least those featured in artistic representations of them. Hair was worn up and sometimes featured curled tendrils to frame the face or fall from updos. For those who could afford it, bejeweled hair combs, exotic flowers, and strings of pearls (among other accessories) were used to adorn their hair.
Despite the show’s frequent tendency to recreate these hairstyles with a modern twist, there are scenes in which accurate Regency era hair is featured. Alternately, there are many scenes that feature hairstyles that can be easily replicated and worn today. As an African-American woman who wears her natural hair, I was especially excited to see hair that looked like mine in a period drama! The diversity in racial backgrounds for characters in the show allows for diversity in their stylings — check out the braids, locks, and afros on Queen Charlotte! To achieve the show’s swoon-worthy hairstyling, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment. Bridgerton did an amazing job of mixing the old with the new to create a unique aesthetic. Get creative, try some more decadent styles out for yourself, and you’ll be ready for a stylish promenade around the park in no time.
Lastly, a Regency-inspired outfit is nothing without its accessories. Regency era fashion was heavily dependent on accessories to complete and define an outfit and its wearer. Parasols made of light-weight materials to protect complexions, simplistic jewelry in classical styles, and patterned footwear were all hugely important to the completion of one’s outfit. From multi-colored feathered hand fans to sparkling tiaras, the accessories in Bridgerton worn by its amazing cast were nothing less than show-stopping. Just look at the different color pallets and precious details worn by the show’s characters! Although Lover’s Eye necklaces like the one worn by Marina during one of the first episodes of the series may no longer be popular, investing in unique details that you can add to your outfits can really transform them. If you would like to incorporate more Bridgerton style into your modern-day wardrobe, be sure to include your favorite accessories to finish your outfit.
And that’s it! Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. So much of Regency-era fashion was based on the romanticization of eras gone by and on the beauty of simplicity. You don’t need to walk around in an empire silhouette dress to feel like you’re straight out of the show. I hope this short guide helps you achieve the Bridgerton-inspired wardrobe of your dreams! I wonder what the show has in store for us next season…