|assortment of body piercing jewelry - not mine!|
Fourteen months later it still hurts. "Expect it to be sensitive for about a year", the ear piercer had told me. The man knew what he was talking about.
So, a few days ago when I clunked my hairbrush against the stud and winced from the zing it caused, I said aloud, "Stop whining. It's the price you've paid for fashion." And that brought to mind a phrase I've read dozens of times in historical romance novels: All the stare of fashion. And that got me to thinking about the curious terms and phrases that are commonplace in historical romances.
I know, rather circuitous thought pattern, but there it is. Happens all the time.
Long before I wrote a historical romance I was reading them and keeping lists of terms and phrases that I liked, such as: a woman grown; beyond the pale; cock-ups; diamond of the first water; has no town bronze; making a cake/hash of a situation or oneself; repair to the kitchens/country/drawing room/water closet, foxed, whey-faced.
In the Regency period, the era I write in, what one wears to a ball, musicale, horse race, picnic or to just lie-about, is an integral part of the story's setting. And there are many terms and phrases associated with fashion. Besides "All the stare of fashion" a lady's attire might be au courant (Fr., in the current), all the thing, or de rigueur (Fr., proper) or comme il faut (conforming to accepted standards/proper). A stunning ensemble might put everyone else "in the shade" or be oohed and aahed over as the "fashion plate" of the season.
To someone wearing an ensemble that was considered unfavorable it could be said that he/she "isn't showing to her/his best advantage." Such a polite put down!
Dashing, au courant couples
|16thc iron corset|
In historical romances, regardless the century or setting, the fashions of that time and place present a variety of discomforts. Take the corset for instance – PLEASE! Take it and fling it into the Thames. Painful, breath-reducing structures designed to make one appear abnormally narrow at the waist. Whether made of iron, leather, or boned or simply laced, each seem to be spectacularly inconvenient and uncomfortable garments. All in the name of fashion. And not just for women. Men who wanted to appear slimmer endured these also.
Having to tolerate all-in-the-name-of-fashion discomforts from neck to waist, women in the Regency period could at least treat their feet to something comfy. Kid leather half-boots and silk slippers, small compensations for all the other fashion vexations. Men had Hessians or top boots for day wear and slippers or shoes with silly little buckles for formal evening wear.
I haven't researched the history of footwear so don't know when we went from soles that have an intimate acquaintance with terra firma to heels so high they put your head in the heavens.
And pointy toed "winklepickers." Male and female British rock n'rollers have been wearing these for years. They look like substitutes for ice-picks, capable of housing GPS systems. Very skinny GPS systems. Brutally painful looking to someone like me who wears only sandals, flip flops, flat heeled clogs and running shoes.
An equal contender to shoes and purses as accessories are earrings, perhaps the most universally popular accessory of all.
|Barbara's ruby dangles|
These gentlemen make me, with my itty bitty stud, look like a little girl playing dress-up. I wonder how long it took before their ears stopped hurting...
What about you? Any nod to uncomfortable fashions? Favorite pair of shoes, earrings or....?
Polly McCrillis, who also writes historical romances as Isabel Mere, likes the contrasts of writing about the here and now or slipping back to other eras and different countries. She owns and operates a secondhand bookshop in southwest Missouri, where she lives with her husband, two dogs, parakeet, goldfish and a very chunky kitty.
Anticipating the fifth book in her historical Almost series to be released this summer and the third in her contemporary romance suspense series, Games People Play in late fall, you can visit Polly at www.pollymccrillis.com. And check out her blog, a new post every Tuesday, at www.pollymccrillis.com/blog.html.