one of my favorite fashion history things ever is court dress during the regency era
When ladies (and gentlemen) appeared at Court on formal occasions they were required to wear Court Dress, which was a very formal, very specific type of garment that was not worn anywhere else. Rules of Court Dress were rigid and dictated by the current monarch or his Queen. During the Regency, those rules produced a type of female garment that appears perfectly ridiculous to modern eyes, but which was taken quite seriously by those who wore them and by the designers who made them.
The rules of Court directed that ladies should wear skirts with hoops and trains, and that white ostrich feathers be worn in the hair, attached to lappets which hung below the shoulders. These rules had been in place long before George III took the throne. In his predecessor’s day the skirts were enhanced with panniers that stood out very wide on either side, but leaving the front and back flat. The intent of such odd-looking dresses was to display a broad swath of beautifully embroidered fabric, some of which had pictorial or floral scenes that used the entire front of the skirt as a canvas.
Side panniers had been replaced by normal round hoops by the time George III came to the throne in 1760. In the last decade of the 18th century, the fashion for wide skirts began to evolve into the slim, vertical line associated with Regency dress. Queen Charlotte, however, held firm on the rules of Court Dress, and ladies were forced to adapt those rules to the current style, which produced a very odd-looking garment with the high-waist under the bosom and a full hoped skirt.