Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fat George, Fashion Icon

 "Who is your fat friend?"
-Beau Brummel


George Prince of Wales was not a prince to be taken very seriously and then he became king, he wasn't much of a king to be taken seriously either.  Perhaps the saddest part of this recollection was that he was regent for a mad king, making a hedonistic and incompetent young man the backup for ruling an Empire.  Ah, monarchy!

Surprisingly enough the Prince's hedonism led to some of the famous fashion trends of the time period that was named after him, the Regency era.  The foppish prince was never slender but always enjoyed being rather fashionable.  By the 1790s George's waistline was in serious trouble, earning him the affection nickname, The Prince of Whales.  It was challenging for a egotistical prince to continue in his role as a fashionista with his stomach spilling over his trousers so like the cartoon character that he was, he began wearing a corset.  At one point the corset had to reach around fifty inches of waist and required some strong servants to string him into it.  The corset may have given George a slightly daintier shape but it couldn't cover up the double and triple chins he was sporting so George began wearing high collars -- extremely high collars.  The collars caught on and began to be part of every fashionable male's outfit. 

Overall, George did pretty well in disguising his girth with dark colors, corsets, high collars and whatever else.  Looking back on his portraits from the time you wouldn't exactly call him obese, although flattering portrait painters like Lawrence, could probably be credited for that.  However when the sovereign's head appeared on currency in the traditional roman motif, there was no disguising the king's weight from his subjects....or the fact that they had been dressing in weight-disguising fashions the whole time!

12 comments:

heidenkind said...

It's good to be the king.

History and von Fersen said...

Sometimes you just can't pretend

Retro Blog said...

So tell me, is the following really about Prinny?

"Georgie,Porgie, pudding and pie,

kissed the girls and made them cry."?

Heather Carroll said...

The one and only!


@heidenkind, well put *snogs random woman in garden*

Amirak101 said...

on another blog (i think it's Life Takes Lemons) one of Prinny's painters said that when he was in his corset he looked like a squished sausage bursting. So I guess the corsets didn't really disguise much.

Heather Carroll said...

Not really, he must have looked like a puffed up rooster!

aurora said...

Is this picture on the right where he is wearing black, really him?! If it is, then Lawrence was really a master of disguise.

Heather Carroll said...

It certainly is!

I lodge in Grub Street said...

Programme about him and regency fashion on the BBC iplayer, Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency. Seems to be a series. Unfortunately presented by Lucy Worsley who gets on my nerves.

I lodge in Grub Street said...

Oh, I may also have a thing against Lucy Worsley, not only because of her 'jolly hockey sticks' style - she is the head curator of Historic Royal Palaces, who have turned me down from 4 jobs so far - and I'm mainly talking selling tickets.

I lodge in Grub Street said...

Oh, and I hate how she says 'Engrish' cos she can't say the letter 'r'...But if we get over that, a very good programme.

Heather Carroll said...

Aw, I do love me some Lucy W, however I can certainly understand your bitterness. I hold some similar grudges!