Mar 152011

I love peeking into Jane Austen’s World to see the latest on Regency Fashion. Whenever there is an opening, I’ll post another fascinating item.

Todays is a Banyan. Enjoy!

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. Image

Tartan wool banyan lined in bottle green silk, 1800.

  8 Responses to “Regency Fashion: Banyan, a man’s dressing gown”

  1. Thank you so much for featuring my post. Love your blog! Vic

    • Vic,
      Mutual admiration society here because I love your blog too,
      And hope to feature more of your lovely Regency Fashion items,

  2. Great post! I had a vague idea of banyans, but this was very helpful.

  3. Oh this is lovely and very helpful. I see all sorts of possibilities now for a hero to wear a banyan. Thank you!

  4. Do you happen to know what the origin of the word is?

    • Not at the moment, but I’ll ‘Ask the Experts’ and hopefully someone can answer your question on the origin of the word Banyan.
      Must say, I’m dying to find out now too!
      Thanks for asking,

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