Friday, May 18, 2012

A Nifty Little Purse - The Regency Reticule

One of the most common fashion accessory used by the Regency lady was the reticule--a small fabric pouch.  These dainty purses were made of fabric (net, silk, brocade, etc.)  and adorned with designs embroidered with silk or metallic threads. Some reticules were elaborately decorated with intricate stitching and beadwork. It was not uncommon to also include a tassel at the bottom as an added decoration.  Most used a drawstring closure or small clasp, the latter becoming popular toward the end of the era.  Reticules could be fashioned in fabrics to match a lady's gown or slippers and were often made at home.

Since these purses were small, they didn't hold a lot.  A proper lady might have carried a fan, a few coins, scent bottle, handkerchief or even a letter.

Prior to the reticule coming into fashion, valuables were carried in small 'pockets' sewn into a lady's gown.  The notion of carrying such items at your wrist, in public view, was considered absurd by some people, thus earning the reticule the name 'ridicule'. 

Below are three fashion plates showing reticules - two tasseled and one with what appears to be an embroidered design.

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