Fortunate were the women of the Regency era not to have to suffer the same shoe styles as those in the Georgian period before them. Though the bejeweled high heels for ladies and gentlemen fell out of fashion, the desire to adorn shoes remained.
Some ladies added shoe roses to their satin slippers as a simple embellishment, and the slippers were often dyed to match their gowns. Those of the first circles would hardly notice the cost for a pair of dyed roses nor would those from an estate that generated a meager two thousand a year consider it excessive. Outside these circles, however, most would need to consider whether the expense was necessary. It was possible to reuse the same white shoe roses, the most common color for gowns worn by maidens, or dyed to match the cloak for matrons walking down Bond Street.
There was, of course, also the issue of losing a shoe rose. Notoriously limp and easily dislodged, it was not uncommon for a lady to return home at the end of an evening without one or both. A lady of the gentry would not feel the loss but would simply order a new set. Her guardian would pay the bill, be it a father, brother, uncle, or husband. Yet a lady who worked as a companion or governess must consider any expense for which she alone was responsible.
While perfect for the evening, shoe roses dyed to match a gown worn only once were a luxury. Then, as now, the gown may have made a statement, but the accessories were everything.
Sources for To Dye or Not to Dye?:
Author unknown “Make Your Own Shoe Roses” and “What Makes a Historically Accurate Regency Shoe?” Janeausten.co.uk, date unlisted, https://janeausten.co.uk/blogs/fashion-to-make/make-shoe-roses?currency=usd
Lee, Hyo Jeong “Roses / Rosettes” Fashion History Timeline, December 14, 2018 https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/roses-rosettes/
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