I love peeking into Jane Austen’s World to see the latest on Regency Fashion. Today it’s a Banyan.
Regency Fashion: Banyan, a man’s dressing gown
Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England, the fashion exhibition at the Brighton Pavilion this year, features a quilted printed (chintz) banyan, or men’s dressing robe worn over a shirt and knee breeches. When at home, a gentleman would change into an informal knee-length dressing gown known as a banyan, and wear it around his family at breakfast, playing games, such as cards or backgammon, and while reading in his library or writing letters. One can readily imagine Mr. Bennet wearing a banyan in his study, and most definitely Mr. Woodhouse (image below), as he sat by the fire reading a newspaper.
Mr Woodhouse (Bernard Hepton) in a fur-lined fitted man’s dressing gown, or banyan The banyan was a loose, full kimono style in the early 18th century, but later evolved into a more fitted style with set-in sleeves, similar to a man’s coat. It was known as an Indian gown, nightgown, morning gown, or dressing gown. First used as a type of robe, it was originally worn for leisure and in at-home situations; but came to be worn as a coat out-of-doors, in the street, or for business. Many gentlemen had their portraits made while wearing banyans. They were made from all types of fabrics in cotton, silk, or wool (Cunningham, 1984).
Nicholas Boylston in a loose fitting banyan, 1767. Painted by John Singleton Copeley.
Tartan wool banyan lined in bottle green silk, 1800.