regencydress The other day, I was sitting in the car and I realized just how little clothing I had on. My outfit wasn’t strange or extraordinarily scandalous. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

But at the time, I was reading an historical romance novel. Those of us who enjoy Regency or Victorian era settings have read many times that even the sight of an ankle (the horror!) could be titillating or scandalous, and a man and a woman touching bare hands outside of marriage was just not done in polite society. And here I was, sitting cross-legged, my legs totally bare. I could practically hear all of my favorite dowagers and Society matriarchs calling for salts and fanning themselves.

Once I was discussing with some friends an assignment done in class. People were supposed to draw how they would live their lives if there were absolutely no societal restrictions. No judging, no repercussions. One of my friends said, “I’d live my life exactly the same. I’d just wear Jane Austen-style clothing.”

This is something I could get behind. There’s something romantic about those types of dresses, and something sexy about covering up and hinting at what’s underneath it all. We’ve all read those scenes where the hero has to catch his breath when he gets a glimpse of the outline of the heroine’s legs as the wind blows her skirt against her, or the racing pulse at his first skin-to-skin contact as he slowly strips off her glove. Let’s face it. It’s kind of hot.

Sometimes I think modern dress can give a bit too much away. I’m a big fan of subtlety and mystery. Sometimes the most intimate scenes are of a kiss on the hand, and the sexiest outfits aren’t the ones that show the most skin.

Unfortunately, I can’t go around dressing like my favorite historical romance heroines. I’m just not that much of a non-conformist. But, if like that hypothetical assignment proposed, if I could do whatever I wanted and not have to face societal judgments, I just might break out a Regency gown sometimes.

– Jane Granville