Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Rather Lovely Soirée - Silk and Satin

A Rather Lovely Soirée
Talk like Jane Austen Day
Event production by
Random Magic Tour
Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Oct. 30, 2011
Silk and Satin

You've arrived at a rather lovely soirée in honor of Talk like Jane Austen Day. Talk like Jane Austen Day is an annual event, but October 30, 2011 is a particularly special day, as it marks the 200th anniversary of the first printing of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Austen's first published novel. In honor of the day, we've assembled a delightful collection of interesting features on all things Jane Austen and her times.

Jane Austen coloured version

Welcome to Silk and Satin, part of A Rather Lovely Soirée for Talk like Jane Austen Day. I'll be talking a little about women's fashion in the time of Jane Austen (1775 - 1817). I was curious why clothing from that time had a few different names, but fortunately wikipedia came to my rescue and explained this:
In this period, fashionable women's clothing styles were based on the Empire silhouette — dresses were closely fitted to the torso just under the bust, falling loosely below. In different contexts, such styles are commonly called "Directoire" (referring to the Directory which ran France during the second half of the 1790s), "Empire" (referring to Napoleon's 1804–1814/1815 empire, and often also to his 1800–1804 "consulate"), or "Regency" (most precisely referring to the 1811–1820 period of George IV's formal regency, but often loosely used to refer to various periods between the 18th century and the Victorian).

Dresses from the era of Jane Austen have always interested me, likely because of their simplicity compared to other styles of the past; in this time, women were actually able to wear something relatively comfortable! These light, high-waisted dresses were neoclassical, inspired by ancient Greek and Roman clothing, which I also find interesting, being a fan of that ancient era. "More comfortable" doesn't mean "easy", however! Fashion was still a very important thing and women, like the characters in Austen's books, had a great many kinds of dresses that they would wear throughout the day.

Some of the types of dresses that women like Austen's would wear throughout the day were morning dresses, afternoon dresses, walking dresses, riding habits and evening gowns.

Morning dresses were only worn around the home and were often older or made from older reused fabrics. These dresses were quite different from ones worn later in the day, having high necks and long sleeves and being plain. Here's an example I found on wiki of a dress like this from 1820:

Afternoon dresses differed from morning ones in that they were meant to be seen, but these also kept the chest/neck covered. During this time of day would be clothing for walking, riding and traveling. Here's a picture of riding dresses:
1799 Riding Habit July LMM

What I found somewhat strange (and rather amusing) while doing research on this subject was that the day dresses, which were never seen in public, were the ones that covered the most skin- but wearing those were considered a state of "undress" or "half dress". As far as I gathered, this doesn't have to do with the amount of clothing, but because the evening wardrobe was more complete and elaborate.

Speaking of evening gowns, here's a description from the wiki page: Evening gowns were often extravagantly trimmed and decorated with lace, ribbons, and netting. They were cut low and sported short sleeves, baring bosoms. Bared arms were covered by long white gloves.

Enough talk- onto some pretties! Here's a gallery of dresses from the time of Jane Austen:
Pauline d'Arenberg (1774-1810) Portret Marii z Łączyńskich Walewskiej
Princess Charlotte of Wales Anna Pavlovna by Walter
Dezyderia Bernadotte Elisabeth Stroganoff, comtesse Demidoff

Do you have a favorite picture of Regency clothing? Feel free to share it in the comments. :)

I tried to keep this brief but there is a lot of information out there on Regency clothing. Here are some sites that I found incredibly informative:


As a special gift connected to the celebration, please enjoy a complimentary download of a delightful work by Jane Austen:

Sense and Sensibility
About: Sense and Sensibility (1811) was Austen's first published novel, which she wrote under a pseudonym. She tells the story of two sisters - Elinor (sense) and Marianne Dashwood (sensibility). Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, while her sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a partner, but neither Elinor's reason nor Marianne's passion alone will help them find happiness. (More)
Download this book

Additional goodies available:

WIN this book at A Rather Lovely Soirée, offer open through November 4, 2011 (GMT). Book offer by vlogger Sable Caught, play to win this book by watching a quick Jane Austen quiz and replying with your answers. (Watch video)

WIN this book at Bookie Brunch, offer open through December 15, 2011.
About: When publisher Thomas Cadell declined an unsolicited manuscript offered to him by a Hampshire clergyman in 1797, he made one of the biggest mistakes in publishing history, for the manuscript was an early version of Pride and Prejudice, and the clergyman's daughter was destined to become one of the most recognizable names in literature... (More)

And, just for fun - find out which of Jane Austen's characters is most like you.

You might also have a nice time at another Jane event coming up this November:

INVITATION to Pemberley Ball, Nov. 14-19, 2011
You're also invited to another charming Jane Austen event, the annual Pemberley Ball, held every November and hosted by vvb32reads (@vvb32reads).

More information on Pemberley Ball Pre-event reading from Pride and Prejudice: Listen
Last season: The Party Scouts | Gallery of Gowns | Dance Card
RSVP: Reply to RSVP for this year's ball

Event production for A Rather Lovely Soirée by Random Magic Tour.
About Random Magic: Trailer | Print | Kindle


Yiota said...

Though i was never a big fan of those dresses, i really liked the ones they used at Pride and Prejudice 2005 movie. They were less boring XD

Debra Brown said...

If the ladies had any sense and sensibility, they would have used the high necks and long sleeves in the evening and possibly done without quite so much death from pneumonia. The things we do to look lovely. I would buy my coverstick before food.

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