salamandraga (salamandraga) wrote in little_details,

Worldbuilding issues

Setting: Secondary world in a time period that overlaps our Napoleonic/Regency periods

These aren't the sort of issues I usually ask about and might be some things that I can just sidestep all together, but I figure I'll ask anyway.

Colors. Clothing colors. They irk me. I have multiple POVs. One is a lady and notices these things. Another is a dandy and notices these things. My story is set in a mufti-cultural city - close to modern NYC in terms of ethnic diversity though not population. There are various ethnic enclaves in the city and various skin tones. What are flattering colors for the various human skin tones? Google leads me from one site to another with a certain amount of agreement/disagreement on which colors suit which skin tones. And rather than breaking things down in a way that I can comprehend, some use terms like autumn or winter skin tone/ warm or cool skin tone. Is there a definitive source on this issue for me to consult, preferably one with pictures that illustrate exactly what they're talking about.

Was this an issue that people of the era would have worried about? I realize that society was a bit more homogenous back then so the colors used in a particular society would have been the colors that normally suited their skin tone anyway when they cared to do so. Yeah. This is a made up world so I could do as I pleased and not worry about it, but I still like that little bit of reality to mesh with the fantastic. And there are different cultures at work in this secondary world, so how one culture handles color won't be the same as others. Some might say that a particular color is flattering, while others associate it with death or harlots. That happens.

How often did fashions go in and out of style? Was it a seasonal thing or something that could happen in the span of a week? I know it's a hard question to answer and the answers might vary, but I'd like a general sort of answer anyway. Of course one person traveling from one country to another might be unaware of changing fashion, but would it be likely for someone to commission a fashionable dress and have it go out of style before it got back from the seamstress? I'm assuming not, but I'd like other opinions.

How long would a lady spend getting her hair done each morning?  And how long might she spend getting it done for a party? I know it will vary by hairstyle, but I'll take a generalized answer. I have discovered that hair was rarely washed back then because of the lack of non-damaging soap so they relied mostly on brushing - Europeans at least, finding period information on other cultures is problematic.

How hard did gentlemen have to work at keeping those old fashioned mustaches styled? Was it something that would last all day or would it require constant grooming to keep in order? I assume that the mustache waxes of the day weren't as good as the ones we have now. Would the heat from a cup of tea or coffee be enough to ruin the morning's grooming or were they strong enough to survive?

search terms used: flattering colors, what colors suit what skin tones, best colors for skin tones, what colors go with what skin color, 19th century hair styling time, how long did it take to do a 19th century lady's hair, 19th century mustache grooming

Tags: 1810-1819, ~clothing, ~worldbuilding

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