A recent post showed a tailor at work on a lady’s riding habit. Up until somewhere around the time of Waterloo, ladies’ habits were customarily made by tailors. This meant they were made, as men’s clothes were, by cutting to pattern rather than by the mantua maker’s (dressmaker’s) method of draping fabric and cutting to the form. You can read more about Regency-era riding habits on Candice Hern’s website.
Their being made by tailors may explain why so many habits, like the one in my photos, have a masculine or military style. In this case, though, the style was of less interest to me than the fact that I had a woman in view in historical dress, riding sidesaddle. She was sitting there, talking to her friend, while they awaited a Colonial Williamsburg dramatization of a historical episode.
This was a rare Nerdy History Girl photo op, and I made the most of it.
If you’ve ever wondered what our fictional ladies might have looked like on horseback, here are some aids to the imagination. Notice how she’s sitting. Notice how the habit covers her legs completely. Not everyone realizes that the habits were long, with trains--great for preserving one’s modesty while riding, but not easy to walk or run in. In other words, it's it’s not the ideal fashion choice for running away from a villain--or even an extremely provoking hero.