In the scalding words of everyone’s favourite gossip, Lady Whistledown, ‘You do not know me, and rest assured, you never shall.’ That’s right – if you thought the Upper East Siders of Gossip Girl were the ones to invent a good bit of tittle-tattle in the noughties, think again. Despite the prudence of the history books, the Regency period (circa 1811 – 1820) was a time swathed in scandal – or at least, that’s what everyone’s favourite Netflix period drama, Bridgerton, would have us believe. A world of hushed voices, flamboyant courtships, hurried matchmaking and excellent accessories (if we do say so ourselves), Bridgerton has been nothing short of a triumph – with 82 million accounts tuning in to watch the show during the first four weeks following its release. Set in London’s Mayfair during the year 1813, it’s mainly told from the perspective of bright-eyed Daphne Bridgerton as she navigates her unorthodox relationship with ‘suitor’ Duke Simon Basset during the ‘social season’ – an annual period in which the elite would host formal events to introduce their children to the world, hoping to find them someone to marry. And whilst Cornelia James wasn’t exactly trading over two centuries ago, Emmy-winning costume designer Ellen Mirojnick made sure that our dearly begloved would still have a shot at finding love during the salacious soirées. To accessorise the many styles of classic regency dress, Ellen selected a number of our tulle, silk and satin opera gloves to form a match made in costume drama heaven. So, for those looking to emulate the opulence of Bridgerton’s mixers and stirrers, look no further than your trusty glovemakers at Cornelia James…
Our Bridgerton Gloves
Whilst they now enjoy Saturday evenings spent toasting to the midnight air (with champagne, to keep it historically accurate), this wasn’t always the way. Once upon a time, our formal gloves would have actually been worn with the flowing lengths of a period dress. Used to indicate social status and wealth, Regency gloves were a sartorial necessity when accessorising the empire line dresses and ancient Greek-inspired gowns of the era. In keeping with this, Ellen Mirojnick and the costume department at Bridgerton contacted our (excitable) team at Cornelia James to source a number of historically-accurate designs. Worn by Phoebe Dynevor, Nicola Coughlan, Claudia Jessie, Ruby Barker and more, the costumes became a storyline in their own right – and what a delight it was to be part of that sartorial tale.
Alongside the traditional Lucrezia style and the many ballroom scenes which featured our satin Hermione opera glove, one other fan favourite was the Desdemona glove. Taking centre stage during one of Daphne’s many formal dalliances with the Duke, it appeared in the pristine white colourway. This style is complete with classic button detailing, a characteristic that was all the rage during the Regency era as it allowed its wearer to slip out a hand when required. You know, to delicately enjoy a bite to eat or even to strike a certain Nigel Berbrooke across the face, should his courting advances become too overbearing. But we digress. This was a historically accurate wardrobe decision from the Bridgerton team, as Regency glove-wearers preferred their styles to fit the arm, often stretched to maximum length to protect their modesty.
Another style that was destined for the big time was our India glove. Spotted with the cornflower blue lengths of Daphne’s beaded empire gown (and other outfits, too), it was an ensemble that was selected for an alfresco meeting with the Duke. A tulle style with keyhole and bow detailing, the soft and sheer quality of the glove is reflective of the daytime styles worn during the Regency period, later to be swapped for a more evening-appropriate pair. In fact, this look actually became one of the most iconic ensembles from the entire first series. Well, what can we say?
The Complete Bridgerton Dress Code
So, alongside Regency evening gloves, what other Bridgerton ‘trends’ can we translate into the modern day? Well, considering the franchise is a mix of fantasy and fact, there are plenty of ways to reimagine the scandal of the social season in the context of your real life. Feeding into fashion’s ever-present fascination with ‘Regencycore’ (an aesthetic concept inspired by the clothes worn in high society during the Regency period), Bridgerton’s wardrobe is a treasure trove of tried-and-tested trends from the past – all with a twist. And always involving gloves, of course.
With enough empire line dresses to warrant a special mention during the closing credits, why was this style so popular during the Regency period? Characterised by a fitted bodice which ends under the bust (giving it a high-waisted appearance) and a long, flowing skirt that skims the body, it was a regal style that would reflect social status. Typically, it would have voluminous puff sleeves, a square neckline, and intricate embroidery or blooming botanicals throughout. In formal settings, it would be paired with ladies regency gloves. In the midst of the Bridgerton craze, the fashion world has been very receptive to the romance of it all, with lots of modern brands currently dabbling in the romantic silhouette. For example, LoveShackFancy, ERDEM, RIXO and DÔEN have all been busy creating contemporary iterations of the design formula.
Elaborate hair adornments are another major wardrobe win for the Bridgerton team. Headed by Academy Award-nominee Marc Pilcher, the hair and beauty department integrated a great number of intricacies to the show’s hair styling – historically reflective of Regency hair styles, which preceded the architectural styles of the Georgian era with soft face-framing curls and delicate hair ornaments. So, whilst you might not be able to create the iconic Beyoncé-inspired birdcage look at home, there are plenty of other styles to try. For example, Penelope Featherington would often be seen with embellished hair pins tucked into her ringlets. Daphne’s nemesis, Cressida Cowper, would appear in a crystal-studded tiara (reflective of her desire to become royalty) whilst Eloise Bridgerton could be seen accessorising her mullet (yes, not just belonging to the ‘80s) with soft floral pieces. Flower wreaths, ribbons, jewellery, tiaras and combs were all common to the Regency era, with contemporary brands like JENNIFER BEHR and Simone Rocha now creating their own era-appropriate versions. Bonus points for matching your hair accessories with your gloves.
As for Bridgerton-appropriate footwear, the dainty flat is the only way to go. During the Regency period, slippers were very impractical – unless you were a member of the pampered high society. Hence the recurring presence of the style on Bridgerton. Regency-era shoes would appear in a variety of colourways and would be secured with ribbon ties. Appearing like delicate ballet slippers, they were mainly worn in the evenings or indoors. The Row, Celine, Jimmy Choo and NEOUS all have updated versions of the style, for those looking to emulate the easy life of a high class Regency socialite.
How, Where and Why To ‘Be Bridgerton’
Integrating the magic of Bridgerton into your wardrobe need not be as thought-out as the all-knowing pages of Lady Whistledown’s scandal sheet. With just a little friendly guidance, you’ll be fit for the Mayfair mayhem in no time. Whether you want to emulate the regality of Bridgerton in your everyday life or reserve it for a fun party theme (period fancy dress costumes, anyone?), this is aesthetic escapism at its finest. Here’s how…
With opera gloves already causing quite the boom in the fashion industry, trend forecasts are predicting a major moment for the timeless accessory. Partly influenced by the anticipation surrounding Bridgerton’s second series (along with the throng of influencers, celebrities and designers who have reached for the style in recent months), the opera glove is both a wearable and authentic way to have fun with the past.
For those looking to integrate just a touch of Regency influence into their look, an evening glove can be styled with a contemporary ensemble, such as a bandeau mini dress or tailored tuxedo dress. As though colliding two timelines together, it’s a look that has proven popular with those in the know – with Rihanna, Alexa Demie and Ariana Grande all appearing in similar outfits. Try our Ophelia style for maximum drama, with lashings of feather trimmings, or the lengths of our Antigone design for a minimalistic take on the trend.
For those looking to escape our reality entirely, you’re in luck. Events specialists have been hailing the so-called Bridgerton effect as the next big thing for the nightlife industry. From Secret Cinema’s immersive Bridgerton Experience (which includes a three hour soirée) to the themed bar nights popping up all over the place, there are plenty of opportunities to escape the everyday – by no less than 200 years. From donning a flowing gown to neatly curling your hair, nothing will complete your Regency costume quite like a pair of evening gloves – with classic styles such as Phoebe and Lara offering an authentic addition to your look.
And whilst all the particulars of Bridgerton’s upcoming second series might be under lock and key for the time being, we can wholeheartedly vouch for one thing: it’s going to include gloves. Lots and lots of gloves. So, now would probably be a good time to find your perfect pair to wear whilst watching the drama unfold…