If anyone was in doubt of Jane Austen’s continuing appeal, they only have to look at the proliferation, this year, of costume exhibits that try to recreate the clothes of her era. Here at Austenonly we have seen part of Dress for Excess exhibit at the Brighton Pavilion, and Fairfax House in York  is also to hold an exhibition of “Revolutionary” clothing in the autumn.

Now visitors to Liverpool’s Sudley House Museum are in for a treat- they are staging a costume exhibit which will feature men and women’s  fashion from 1790- 1850. The exhibit,  which is free to all visitors, will be held  from  8th July  2011 to the 7th  May 2012. IThe Museum hopes the exhibit will appeal to readers of Jane Austen and Mrs Gaskell…..from the photographic evidence, I don’t doubt it.

The Curator of the exhibit,  Pauline Rushton,  seen above with two dresses from the 1840 and 1850s, and below with a dress dating from 1810, said of the exhibit:

“We cover the period from 1790 to 1850 so it’s about a 60 year span and during that time there were a lot of changes in costume in terms of the style, as you would expect. There were political changes going on, economic changes and many social changes where people were rising through the social levels and fashion was filtering down for the first time.”

Liverpool was of course one of the great West Coast ports associated with the triangular Slave Trade, and the city amassed much wealth from the profits of that trade. The costumes on show reflect that wealth, proudly displayed by its citizens.  I often wonder if the heiress that got away ,Mary King in Pride and Prejudice, had any associations with the trade, her  uncle hailing from Liverpool as he did…..

If you go here you can see six more examples of the dresses on display : I adore the black evening dress made of net….I do hope some of you are able to visit this exhibit which looks lovely. And is free!