I was at a convention in one of my Regency gowns, and someone asked, “What did black people wear?”
The answer is that the clothing expressed a wide range of styles depending on a person’s station and where they lived but— since I think that question came from a place of wanting to do historical cosplay as something other than a servant… Here are some Regency-ish* era free people of colour living in Europe, the West Indies, and the Americas.
*I’m cheating a little and going about ten years past the Regency in both directions.
Phillis Wheatley (May 8, 1753 – December 5, 1784) was both the second published African-American poet and first published African-American woman.
Portrait of a Young Woman by Jean-Etienne Liotard
The Barbadoes Mulatto Girl after Agostino Brunias
Portrait of a Gentleman by Joshua Johnston. Believed to be a portrait of the Revd Daniel Coker (1780 – 1846), one of the founders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
General Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, also known as Alexandre Dumas, (25 March 1762 – 26 February 1806) was the famous African European general in French history and remains the highest-ranking person of color of all time in a continental European army. Also the father of Alexandre Dumas.
A Mulatto Woman with Her White Daughter Visited by Negro Women in Their House in Martinique
Juliette Noel, Mrs. Pierre Toussaint
1815, Portrait of Charles Lee Jones, son of Absalom Jones who established the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
Portrait of John Moore, Jr.
Portrait of Yarrow Mamout by Charles William Peale
Jean-Baptiste Belley was a native of Senegal and former slave from Saint-Domingue in the French West Indies who during the period of the French Revolution became a member of the National Convention and the Council of Five Hundred of France.
Portrait of a Black Woman, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ca. 1822
Head and shoulders portrait of an Anglo-Indian girl
A Mulatto Gentleman by Fabre
I would just like to add that a well-tied cravat is a thing of wonder.
Related post: Don’t blame the homogeneity of your novel on historical accuracy. That’s your choice, as an author.