One of the most characteristic things about regency dresses is the patterning of the back. Specifically, a very narrow back panel at the bottom, sleeves set far back and shoulder seams behind the shoulder. Some dresses were closed in the front (bib-closures), others at the back with either strings, hooks or buttons. The methods seem to differ a lot per dress though, as I found when I was looking for methods of making the back-closure for my dotted dress. I eventually settled for hooks and eyes, but it’s interesting to see how many ways there were, and how rare the ‘normal’ buttoned version was! So for this post, some inspiration images of the backs of regency dresses.
The picture below shows a typical regency-back, with the seamlines outlined in red. This is a front-closure dress. In the following pictures, there’s many variations, but this is close to the ‘standard’ cutting pattern.
Some more dresses with front-closures:
I’ve found most back-closures of existent dresses seem to be a gathered back tied with strings. I don’t know if this was also the most common method (I suspect it was, but mainly in the earlier period of the regency, because gathered bodices went out of style later on). Some dresses also show a combination of string at the top and hooks and eyes at the bottom. It’s obvious that this closure works best when the back bodice is gathered, because otherwise a gap might be obvious. (as it is, a slight gap wouldn’t be a problem due to the stays, shift and petticoat worn underneath.
It seems that especially in later periods, buttons also became more popular. Another form of back-closure I’ve seen is lacing, although this seems a bit rare. Here are some more examples of backs. Suffice to say that the ‘simple’ version of buttons along the back was rare!