The Regency era was, for the fortunate percentage of the population with the means to indulge their whims, a time of manners, sophistication, and astonishing excess. Perhaps nowhere is aristocratic indulgence more apparent than in the early nineteenth century’s single-minded pursuit of elegance in dress.
Given the staggering array of stylish accessories for ladies—gloves, jewels, hats, shawls, and fans, to say nothing of gowns and slippers—we might be tempted to overlook the fact that gentlemen also dedicated hours of their day to dressing and preening in front of the looking glass.
Suitable attire was de rigueur for the Regency gentleman. With his Weston coat, Hoby boots, and artfully arranged hairstyles a la Grecque, the fashionable London buck was as much as slave to society’s dictates as his female counterparts. In an era where one’s degree of gentlemanliness could be determined by his defiance or adherence to rules of etiquette, everything from the spotlessness of his gloves to the style of his walking stick became an issue of grave importance.
As with every other fashionable accessory, the sophisticated London gentleman was blessed (or cursed, depending on one’s perspective), with a mind-boggling variety of walking sticks to choose from. A less-dandified gentleman might carry a plain stick or cane hewn of yew, ash, or bamboo with a simple hooked handle, whereas the more affluent might favor a walnut or oak stick, or one fashioned from ivory, ebony, or rosewood.
A true dandy might display his wealth and taste by indulging his fashionable inclinations with a more ornate walking stick, perhaps one with an extravagantly carved animal head. Lions and birds of prey were popular, along with foxes and wolves, and horses or sporting dogs for a hunting gentleman. Elaborate tips worked in silver, brass, or ivory were common, and while the more modest gentlemen might carry a stick with a porcelain or colored-glass knob, it wasn’t unusual to see a pink of the ton, a man at the height of fashion, on the strut with a walking stick inlaid with jewels or mother-of-pearl.
Ladies often carried walking sticks, as well, though theirs were generally a lighter, slimmer variation on the gentleman’s walking stick. Some of the more practical of these were even fitted with special filigreed compartments that held smelling salts or vinaigrette-infused sponges, in the event madame’s tight lacing should lead to a fainting fit.
A suitable walking stick was only one of many accessories for a proper gentleman, but given the complexity of stick pins, seals, and watch fobs, we’ll save them for another day!
About To Wed a Wild Scot
A single lady of birth, beauty, and large fortune should not have this much trouble making a match. Yet after two failed betrothals, Lady Juliana Bernard is in a bind. She must find a husband at once or lose guardianship of her beloved niece. Her childhood friend, the Duke of Blackmore, is her last, best hope. But once she tracks him down in Scotland, she receives startling news: The duke is already engaged.
There is one other option. The duke’s scandalous brother, Logan, Laird of Clan Kinross, is to blame for the mix-up. The least he can do is marry her to make amends. Wooing does not go well at first. But just as Juliana begins to welcome the boisterous but tenderhearted Scot into her life (and her bed), secrets come between them once more. And it will take a determined husband indeed to ensure that a marriage begun in haste leads not to heartache but to love.
About the Author
Anna Bradley is the author of The Sutherland Scandals, The Sutherland Sisters, and The Somerset Sisters novels. A Maine native, she now lives near Portland, Oregon. She teaches writing and lives with her husband, two children, a variety of spoiled pets, and shelves full of books. Visit her at AnnaBradley.net and on the social platforms below.