The Regency Regimen Experiment


During our research for our “An Accomplished Lady” workshop taught at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY we came across a number of etiquette and beauty handbooks created for ladies of good breeding. Whilst reading through them we giggled over some of the recipes for removing freckles and made mental notes of which colors worked best for which complexions. Of notable things learned was the use of the term majestic when referring to shape and size, meant large and when referring to age, meant a woman over 30, according to the Mirror of Graces, 1811. 

One thing each of these books included, which must have been a pretty important topic for ladies, were detailed schedules of how much sleep and exercise a lady should be receiving in order to maintain her natural beauty. Some of these even went as far as to recommend a specific diet be followed which was thought to effect the health, and therefore, the complexion and charms of a lady. 

We thought what better way to experience the life of an accomplished lady of the Regency/Federal era than to try our hand at following the prescribed beauty regimen of the time and of course document it for you! 

So based on the various handbooks we have read, the following regimen and accompanying diet will be followed for 8 weeks. We will track our mileage using the Map My Walk app and will have weekly check ins through our Instagram stories. The challenge will begin on September 3rd and run through October 29th. We have each made a list of our concessions based on our current obligations and modern lifestyles that cannot be avoid. For the final day of our challenge we will showcase all we have learned through our studies of etiquette and the era by demonstrating the lifestyle of the ladies of the upper middle class in Federal era America at a local historical site, complete with some live streams and videos.

Brittany’s Regency Beauty Regimen 

  • I will walk 1 mile to and from school each morning on weekdays to drop off my son.
  • After my walk I will take a cold sponge bath and use friction oil to stimulate the body
  • For breakfast I will have a cup of coffee or tea, bread with preserves and bacon or sausage
  • For my afternoon exercise I will walk 1 mile to and from school on weekdays to pick up my son. 
  • On weekends I will walk 2 miles each day on the Meadow Loop Trail at Forest Nature Preserve.
  • I will go to bed before 10pm each night, allowing myself four nights a month to stay up for pleasure. 
  • If I do not make it to bed before 10pm I will take a 1 hour nap in the afternoon the next day.
  • Before bed I will take a hot bath and drink 1 cup of warm broth.

Brittany’s Concessions

  • If weather is poor I may elect to drive and makeup the mileage later that day at the gym or on another day altogether. 
  • I will dress in normal, modern clothes throughout the experiment with the exception being the final day. 
  • I will eat a diet as consist with that which is recommended but may make substitutions for health when needed. 

Hayley’s Regency Beauty Regimen

  • I will walk one mile each day to the local coffee shop.
  • After my walking I will use a soft cotton cloth to rub the body in lieu of the friction oil.
  • I will eat an approved breakfast and lunch consisting of coffee and tea, bread, oatmeal and other relatively bland foods.
  • I will be in bed by 10 pm, but may not be asleep until later.

Hayley’s Concessions

  • I will only be practicing this Monday through Friday.
  • Dinners will not follow the recommendations but will be whatever I manage to eat.
  • I will not be walking if the weather is inclement and will make it up with vigorous activity at dance classes instead.
  • I will not be taking morning or evening walks in the dark for safety reasons therefore will adjust the recommended schedule to work better with the changing seasons.

Throughout the experiment we will update the blog periodically sharing research relevant to the experiment including recipes for making your own friction oil and discussing the science behind some of this.

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