The Gallery of Fashion is one of the earliest fashion magazines, and among the most famous of the Regency period. It was published in monthly issues from 1794 to 1803.
The shape of Regency dresses was inspired by the classical period: both the Grecian robes of classical art and the slim columns of classical architecture. English fashion at this time also had a complicated relationship with France. On the one hand, French fashion had long been the height of chic; on the other, England was at war with France, and magazines such as the Gallery of Fashion were therefore at pains to distance themselves from the more elaborate aspects of French dress.
The dresses in the Gallery of Fashion range from relatively simple morning dresses to ornate evening costume. Many of the dresses are white, which was a consistently fashionable colour, especially for the evening. A white dress signals the wealth and leisure of its owner: since white stains so easily, the wearer would have to be rich enough to replace her dresses regularly and stay away from dirt (perhaps taking a carriage rather than walking, and not engaging in much housework). Regency dresses were often made of thin material, so accessories – cloaks, bonnets, gloves and muffs - were necessary for warmth, as well as for the sake of fashion and propriety.
The Gallery of Fashion shows a lot of mourning dresses. A woman might spend a considerable part of her life wearing mourning of some sort, for distant relatives as well as close ones, so it is not surprising that there was a pressure to remain fashionable while doing so.