What did Jane Austen wear? Jemoon tells you what...


The 15th Jane Austen Festival will be kicking off in Bath next week. Each year the festival officially opens with a world famous Grand Regency Costumed Promenade (September 12) which sees hundreds of people in 18th century costume proudly walking through the streets of the city, making it a record breaking event. The costumes you'll see at the parade may make you imagine ways to add a little Regency inspiration to your wardrobe.

Rosemary Harden, the manager at the Fashion Museum, Bath, refers to Regency fashion as a fascinating style of dress:evening dresses

"Dresses worn at the time that Jane Austen wrote her six novels tended to be made of cotton, either plain white lightweight cotton known as muslin, or slightly more sturdy, and more colourful printed cotton. Dresses were slender in silhouette and high-waisted, and would fasten with a concealed drawstring beneath the bust, with a front flap, which was either pinned or buttoned in place at either side.

"Day dresses generally had long close-fitting sleeves, and this style was fashionable too for cocktail dress. It's sweet and innocent style of dress, perhaps because of that child-like 'Empire-line' detail, a style which in some senses seems timeless in its appeal.

"Interestingly, it tended to be the more 'silly' characters in Jane Austen's novels who discussed dress. For example, the younger Bennett sisters Lydia and Kitty in Pride and Prejudice who talked about the latest ribbon trims for their bonnets, and (of particular interest for us here in Bath) Mrs Allen discussing muslin with Henry Tilney during a ball here at the Assembly Rooms (then known as the New Rooms)."