Identical to Eloise from Bridgerton, real Regency women used muffs to specific themselves – and make friends

Each season of Bridgerton is extremely anticipated not just for the season's plot, but additionally for the lavish costumes. While most eyes were focused on Penelope Featherington's (Nicola Coughlan) blossoming and transformation in season three—a storyline that effectively reinforces the ability of clothing—one other character's unusual accessory has caught the eye of fans of the period drama.

Although anything is feasible within the fantasy Regency world of Bridgerton and the query of the series' historical accuracy has turn into moot, this season has encountered a completely satisfied case of accidental accuracy.

When Eloise (Claudia Jessie) and Cressida (Jessica Madsen) walk within the park in the primary episode, Eloise's forearms are wrapped in a fluffy, purple muff. The unusual decision to have Eloise wear a muff in the peak of summer was made to broken wrist. However, this fashion coincidence actually applies to one among the lesser-known accessories of the 18th century – the silk muff.

Muffs, cylindrical accessories worn across the hands and forearms, were made within the 18th century from three materials: fur, feathers and silk.

Fur muffs were first worn within the sixteenth century and were probably the most luxurious muff. Fur muffs produced from fox, lynx and even bear fur may very well be stuffed with warming eiderdown and were sold mainly from early October to February. Hatters and furriers (the makers of fur muffs) advertised recent muffs in newspapers and offered cleansing and alteration services to assist ladies of high society prepare their muffs for the London winter season.

Feather muffs were also popular and were worn all yr round. For example, after the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), newspapers within the spring and summer of 1762 were stuffed with advertisements and editorials for feather muffs. Their popularity was a byproduct of the French Lose access from the North American fur trade to the British. However, probably the most versatile muffs for all seasons were those made from silk.

Illustration of a Regency woman wearing a fur muff
Illustration of a Regency woman wearing a fur muff, by George Moutard (1797).
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, CC BY-SA

Silk muffs have been worn because the seventeenth century and are decorated with embroidery, sequins or satin prints (images printed on silk). Although some are trimmed with fur and heavily insulated, many are made from just a skinny layer of wool wadding (a padding produced from natural fibres). This made them a lighter choice to wear throughout the changeable temperatures of the British spring and summer.

Silk muffs were often made at home and offered women a blank canvas for sartorial self-expression. They were often embroidered with printed patterns from magazines similar to The Lady's Magazineor in response to patterns bought in town.

The embroidery of a muff demonstrated the skill and experience of the maker. It also served as a middle of community and connection between cousins, siblings and friends.

For example, the English Paper flower artist Mary Delany often taught her sister easy methods to work with embroidery. Delany's great-niece, Frances Mabel Sparrow, also sought the recommendation of her older cousin Henrietta Pennington, who “great worker”.

In her letters, Sparrow sought Pennington's advice and asked her to send samples of the most recent fashions from London to Sparrow's house, which was 120 miles north of the capital. Pennington's house in Kensington put her within sight of high society. In her cousin's eyes, this made her a wonderful arbiter of fashion news and taste.

A light pink silk muff with floral embroidery.
A real British silk muff from 1780.
The Costume Institute of the MET Museum

In addition to the sensible networks that arose around embroidery, family ties were also established and strengthened through the work. Delany's correspondence along with her sister Anne states: She describes a musty that she made as a “symbol of you and me” and so I have to cherish it. This shows the sentimental attachment that an adjunct can develop through sewing and crafting.

Likewise, the alternative of thread, stitch, shade, color and pattern reveal the personality and skill of the muff maker. In the primary episode of Bridgerton, young women discuss embroidery stitches, which Eloise finds extremely boring. It is portrayed as a trivial female waste of time. But in point of fact, it was about female empowerment, self-determination and self-expression.

With the introduction of satin prints within the 1780s, the silk muff literally became a wearable canvas. It not only demonstrated women’s artistic skill with the needle, but additionally showcased the work of female visual artists, similar to Angelica Kauffman. Satin prints often depicted allegories of virtues similar to bliss, innocence, or sincerity. Originally painted by Kauffman and printed on silk, these printed images gave women one other avenue for self-expression and encouraged and supported female artists.

Silk muffs were a year-round accessory that connected women with one another and provided a platform for his or her artistic skills and creativity. The humble muff was a small but powerful type of female agency within the guise of an easy accessory.

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