Elegance in fashion and great achievements in fine arts and architecture are trademarks of the Regency Era. The Regency Era formally began in 1811 and ended in 1820, lasting just nine years. Although works as early as 1795 and as late as 1837 have been labeled as Regency, the reign of the prince regent is what defines it. King George III was officially declared unfit to rule in 1811 due to a long struggle with mental illness. His son George, prince of Wales, was assigned to rule in his stead. With a prince regent in place, the Regency Era began. In 1820, the prince regent ascended to the throne upon the death of his father, which formally marked the end of the Regency Era.
The high-waisted, undergarment-inspired chemise dress was in fashion for women during the Regency Era. Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, is credited with the popularity of the chemise dress. However, during the Regency Era, it was considerably more modest than it had been in previous years. Most of England’s supply of silk had been destroyed in battle, so the dress was commonly constructed of cotton.
With the migration of former country-dwellers to the cities during the Industrial Revolution, fashionable clothing had an equestrian flair. This could be seen in ladies’ knee-length riding jackets that were open in the front to reveal the dress underneath. Fashion plates of the time often show women carrying riding crops.