To complement our earlier discussion regarding how to walk like a Regency gentleman, Behind The Past is delighted to present its guide for ladies.
It is perhaps best to begin by considering the benefits of walking. The current fashions demand a ‘natural look’ and a gentle flush from a pleasant walk is perfect for achieving this. The present silhouette for dress can also be rather unforgiving, so moderate exercise to keep oneself ‘trim’ is also advantageous.
However, knowing that is good to walk is of course not the same as knowing how to walk. On this subject, it is important to recognise the distinctions between town and country walking.
In town, the most obvious walking example is the 5 o’clock promenade at Hyde Park. Here a lady is on parade. She is showing her taste and elegance, and this is often done through the medium of fashion. Yet the best outfit can be ruined by a poor wearer. A dress is best carried off with good posture, a light step and a general air of refinement. It is also important to adhere to the proper walking etiquette; above all, a young, unmarried lady should never appear without her requisite chaperone.
A more relaxed and forgiving attitude towards walking can be taken in the countryside, and it is here that the best exercise can be had. It is far more pleasant to walk on a quiet country lane (or better still, around the gardens of one’s father’s or husband’s country estate) than a busy street. One should be properly dressed and equipped – a pair of good shoes with sturdy laces is an absolute must. It is terribly unladylike to limp or hobble home simply because your shoes were not comfortable or up to the task.
In addition, more activity and vigour may, in certain circumstances, be acceptable here when it would be unthinkable in town. After all, nobody can reasonable expect you to levitate or float over a country stile. However, it is also best to have a very good excuse for tramping alone across the fields with your petticoat six inches deep in mud!