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Most dancers are quite tolerant if your costume is not perfect. Like learner drivers - we all started there once, but you will want to do the best you can. Bear in mind that many dressmakers don't really know what a Regency dress should be like, so get knowledgeable advice or choose an experienced costumier, especially for your first costume. Avoid bright modern dyes which weren't available 200 years ago because they will mark you out as a newbie.
There are a few balls with a strong 'bonnet police'. One even asked for a photo of my costume before they would sell me a ticket - I eschew such snobbish events!
This page shows the basics of Regency wear - what you will need for a complete and sufficient costume. The related pages list where you can buy them, hire them or make them. If you want advice from an expert email me and I will forward your email to someone who knows.
Note: It was unacceptable for gentlemen to come into the ballroom in boots and one would be expelled from Almacks for this offence. Pantaloons were slowly replacing the men's knee breeches during this period, but again, they were not acceptable in the ballroom.
For promenading you will find sources of period shoes and boots for ladies and gentlemen in the pages that follow.
However, if you want to dance, then you will need a light, flexible shoe with little or no heel and good support for the foot. Period shoes can be uncomfortable to dance in. Also be aware that the Regency dancing is vigorous and modern pumps have a tendency to fly off in mid dance!
Ladies should dance in pumps and, unless they are a good snug fit, sew on a ribbon to cross and tie round the ankle or elastic across the top of the foot.
For men, I have now found a solution that works best for me. I use a buckled period shoe if I am just promenading, but for dancing I change into men's black ballet shoes to which I have added a period gilt buckle or a flat black bow. They look accurate for the period, judging by the portraits and cartoons of the time, and they are a delight to dance in. They downside is that the sole is so soft that you can't really wear them outside - but then we know that Regency men changed their shoes before dancing too.
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