You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Costumes’ category.

Andrea Galer the costume designer has, in conjunction with the Jane Austen Centre of Bath’s Online shop decided to auction some of her costumes from the 2007 ITV production of Persuasion, and from the BBC’s Miss Austen Regrets, the dramatised biography of Jane Austen’s life as seen from the perspective of  the last few months of her life.

Here you can see two of the costumes that are going to be auctioned on E-Bay (UK). First, the violet dress worn by Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot in Persuasion:

and , below, the nightdress worn by the divine Olivia Williams as Jane Austen in Miss Austen Regrets:

If you go here to Andrea Galer’s own site, you can see that the princes these costumes can command are quite high. The auctions all begin at 99 pence and  so are very tempting, I’m sure, for all you costume-lovers out there. The auction also includes items worn by Matthew McFaddeyn in the BBC production of The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, and items from the BBC’s acclaimed production of Charles Dickens Bleak House.

The auction for all these items  ends on Sunday 25th march, so good luck to any potential bidders out there!

Since I began the series of posts about Hugh Thomson’s illustrations for Sense and Sensibility, (accessible here and here) they have generated a number of emails and comments, both here and on Twitter, about the correctness or not of the costumes worn by the characters. What period do they reflect? Are they accurate ? And how do they relate to the text? I thought it might be helpful and interesting to discuss them and to compare them with costumes of the period.

The style of the clothes, particularly the clothes worn by the female characters in the illustrations, suggest to me that  Thomson set the novel very firmly in the period of the mid 1780s to the mid 1790s. To my eye none of the clothes worn by the female characters reveal any details of the fashions of the late 1790s, and certainly no one wears any dress that could  be described as having the raised waist of the revolutionary Empire style. These waistlines are defiantly placed  by Thomson along the line of a natural waist and are not raised to just below the bust line in any way.

So…why did Thomson use this period and not the costumes of the later period to reflect the time when Jane Austen was writing, adapting, revising the book in the mid to late 1790s and finally publishing her novel in 1811? It might be helpful, at this point, to look at the history of the evolution of this novel.

According to Cassandra Austen’s memorandum Sense and Sensibility was composed by Jane Austen in 1797.  James Edward Austen Leigh’s Memoir of his aunt , first published in 1869, contains this passage about the novel and the work upon which it was based:

It was, however, at Steventon that the real foundations of her fame were laid.  There some of her most successful writing was composed at such an early age as to make it surprising that so young a woman could have acquired the insight into character, and the nice observation of manners which they display.  ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ which some consider the most brilliant of her novels, was the first finished, if not the first begun.  She began it in October 1796, before she was twenty-one years old, and completed it in about ten months, in August 1797.  The title then intended for it was ‘First Impressions.’  ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was begun, in its present form, immediately after the completion of the former, in November 1797 but something similar in story and character had been written earlier under the title of ‘Elinor and Marianne;’ and if, as is probable, a good deal of this earlier production was retained, it must form the earliest specimen of her writing that has been given to the world.

It is thought that Jane Austen began Elinor and Marianne sometime in 1795:

If so she may have used it ( her writing desk-jfw) during 1795 when she embarked on her first full length project- ‘Elinor and Marianne’ the prototype ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Family tradition recalled that this too was written in letters and read aloud in this from….

(see Jane Austen: A Family Record by Dierdre le Faye, page 89)

Apart from the “flashback” scenes recounted  by Colonel Brandon, and possibly this passage in Chapter One of the novel which relates to events ten years prior to the beginning of the action in the novel, below, I cannot find any justification in the text for setting the novel as further back in time than 1795:

The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the family of his nephew, Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it.

However, I think that it may have been possible  that Thomson was aware in 1895 when he was working on the illustrations, of the novel’s history, and  that the novel had evolved from the first serious adult  work that Jane Austen wrote in 1795. This may explain why  he  chose to depict a period of fashion prior to the mid to late 1790s. It is my opinion that he chose an earlier time period, which had a distinctly different dress style to that of 1811 when Sense and Sensibility was first published, to pay tribute to the history of this publication.( Of course, I may be completely wrong in my speculations…..)

We ought now to consider if  the costumes as depicted were accurate for the time frame (1785-1795)that  Thomson chose.

Let’s look at some examples from the period and compare them with the Thomson illustrations. I think you will see that there are many similarities between them but some important differences.

This is a drawing by Rowlandson of the actress, Mrs Abingdon, reclining on a couch circa 1786.

These are real examples of clothing from 1785, the costumes are part of the Kyoto Costume Institute’s collection.

This is Gainsborough’s famous portrait of Mrs Siddons dating from 1783-5…

And here is thomson’s Lady Middleton wearing a very similar style, including the hat….One of the first comments I noticed made about the costumes on Twitter was that , the hats are bigger than you will recall. Not necessarily so, bearing in mind the period Thomson was using.

And this is another work by Gainsborough, again dating from 1785, showing Mr and Mrs William Hallett in their Morning Walk……

Mrs Hallett’s gown is similar in style to the gown worn by Fanny Dashwood in this illustration.

And again the flounces found on some of Thomson’s  dresses reflect those to be found in  this  Angelica Kauffman depiction of Lady Elizabeth Forster, companion of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, in 1786

Looking at the hairstyles we can see that Thomson tried to emulate the fashion of the pre- Revolutionary era, especially if we compare Marianne’s hairstyles with Gainsborough’s 1785 portrait of Miss Catherine Tatton, below.

But……despite being mainly true to the period he decided to adopt, there is something slightly amiss, isn’t there? To my eye the silhouettes drawn by Thomson reflect those of the women of his own era, the late Victorian. The Sense and Sensibility ladies are corsetted within an inch of their lives, and their waists seem far smaller than the more realistic waistlines of the clothes of the period, as is shown in this robe a l’anglaise circa 1790, again from the Kyoto Costume Institute’s collection:

And I do think that there is something indefinably late 19th century about the faces and the hats of the characters Thomson depicts.

Joan Hassell, the marvelous illustrator of Jane Austen for the Folio Society volumes which were published  in the 1970s, had quite a lot to say about illustrator’s desperate attempts to be historically accurate, in an address she gave to the Jane Austen Society Annual General Meeting in 1973. Her comments which are pertinent to this discussion, and if you will allow I will quote her here:

It is a fact that the artist cannot detach himself from the period in which he lives. However hard he persuades himself that everything is historically accurate, there is always a give-away somewhere even though it takes a later generation to see it. It is most often to be seen in the ladies hair styles and a general favour in the type of figure; and this is also true of theatre productions where Edwardian ladies in carefully designed historic costume have discarded neither hair padding nor corsets. Nowadays we may pride ourselves as having more specialised knowledge ,but I have a suspicion that future ages will be able to spot the date of our work by the 70s-ish slant to which we ourselves are blind

(Folio,the Quarterly Magazine of the Folio Society, Summer 1975 pp 3-4)

And this I think is what has happened here. The hair styles are nearly correct, but not quite. The wasitlines are smaller than corsets of the 1780s-1795 would allow….the same with the crowns of the hats…and the flounces.

Thomson quite rightly tried to convey to the reader the fact that  the novel was of a long gestation period, and dated the clothes from the period immediately proceeding its composition and publication to reflect this. Though he was generally accurate in depicting the clothes of the period 1785-1795, in my view he could not escape the influences of his own period, that  of the late Victorian, and it is the tiny differences in the stylistic details that do not ring true to us today.

I thought you might like to share a wonderful new resource I have found (and have just added to the “My Links Section” in the left hand column to this page), the Dressing History web-site owned and created by Serena Dyer.

Serena has been studying historical costume since 1999, developing her knowledge through reproduction and recreation of historical pieces. She has spent time in the Textiles department at Christie’s, as well as with the wonderful Snowshill Manor Costume collection.

(©SerenaDyer)

She is currently working towards studying for a BA in History, which she hopes to develop into an MA in Fashion History. Her voluntary work with the National Trust has led to the development of her historical interpretation skills, which she now does regularly at Wimpole Hall, near Cambridge,appearing as various characters from the Hall’s history.

(©SerenaDyer)

Serena makes and sells fabulously accurate reproductions of historic clothing for re-enactors, museums and the heritage industry.  She is able to supply thoroughly researched, highly accurate reproductions or recreations of historical garments from any era, and from a variety of social classes. Importantly she only uses natural fibres for the garments, and tries, wherever possible, to use authentically woven fabrics. Many of her pieces are based on original garments, portraits or fashion plates, and a research portfolio is available for each garment.

Here is her marvellous recreation of a 1797 open robe:

(All ©SerenaDyer)

For part of her dissertation on the dissemination of fashion in England c. 1770-1820 Serena made this dress-from beginning to end:

(©SerenaDyer)

She explains that:

I am using this dress to explore how closely the best sorts of dresses owned by the ladies of ‘polite society’ followed the plates of the period. Unlike simply looking at extant garments, this process allowed me to emulate aspects of the process through which a contemporary lady would make her decisions.

(©SerenaDyer)

Serena also gives talks, all vividly illustrated with her own reproduction garments. Her talks currently include Bonnets to Boots: A Regency Lady’s Wardrobe complete with garments reproduced from the 1810-1820 era which she recently performed at the 2010 Jane Austen Festival in Bath and, one for Henry Tilney, Knowing Your Muslin complete  with reproduction garments and fabrics from 1780-1820 which Serena performed at the 2009 Jane Austen Festival.

(©SerenaDyer)

She also performs a talk which is of special interest to us, Dressing Jane Austen with reproduction garments representing the period 1780-1820. In Serena’s own words:

This presentation examines both Jane’s personal attitude to fashion, and her use of it as a literary device, using the portraits, letters and novels as evidence. Reproductions of gowns described in the letters and novels are also used, as well as an examination of the Pelisse which is believed to have belonged to Jane, providing the audience with a talk that is both visually interesting and provides an insight into how Jane viewed herself and others

Serena also provides an historical interpretation service, in which she portrays  a wide range of characters, both in third and first person, and covers the 16th to 19th centuries.

Many of the characters portrayed are real historical people, and are presented as my interpretation, after thorough research, of what that person was truly like. I can also offer more general services, using a constructed character of my own, for any era, or alternatively I can give various demonstrations. Please contact for details and fees applicable.

The characters available are:

(©SerenaDyer)

Jane Austen (1790s, or 1800s),Charlotte Bronte (1830s), Jemima Yorke, Marchioness Grey (1740s), Lady Amabel Yorke (1770s), Marion Syratt (C16th),Molly Young, aMaid( C18th) and Mary Zouche (1540s)

I have to admit I am so very tempted to order one of Serena’s magnificently trimmed bonnets….

(©SerenaDyer)

But when to wear it?…would it look at all eccentric if I gardened in it? Of course not (!!) Details of Serena’s bonnet trimming service is available here and if  you like to trim your own bonnet ( or like Lydia Bennet, just like to pull something to pieces) you can buy plain straw bonnets and ribbons from Serena too, here, in her Haberdashery section.

If you want to contact Serena to buy some of her wonderful merchandise, book her for a talk or interpretation or view her fabulously interesting website, then go here and she can also be contacted (and “liked”!) via Facebook.

I do hope I get the opportunity to hear one of her talks soon and I hope you have enjoyed reading about her.

Rebecca Smith, the Writer in Residence at Jane Austen’s House Museum yesterday posted about the costumes from the BBC’s 2009 production of Emma which are currently on show at the museum, and will be on display there until the 16th May.

Obviously it would be lovely to go and see them in person, but if you are unable to do so then,if you go here and here you will be able to view Jane Fariax’s tiny dress, Mr Knightley’s hat and the Ballgown Emma wore at the Crown and much, much  more ;-)

If you are not a Wordpress member, just add your email here to subscribe to this site.

An Invitation to Visit our Sister Site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

Visit our sister site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

Click on the image above to visit our Sister Site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

An Invitation to Visit our Sister Site: Jane Austen’s Letters

Visit our sister site: Jane Austen's Letters

Click on the image above to visit our Sister Site: Jane Austen's Letters

Join Austen Only on Twitter

Recently Tweeted

Austenonly on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

Categories

Copyright Notice

Copyright: This site and all images and information complied within are copyright Austenonly.com unless otherwise stated/attributed.No permission is given/implied for any use of this site, the information and images contained therein, for any commercial use whatsoever. No material may be copied in any form without first obtaining written permission of the author, save that extracts of posts may be used on other non-commcerial sites on the internet, provided that full and clear credit is given to Austenonly.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content( that is, a link must be provided to the original post/image with full attribution ). The existence of the RSS or ATOM feeds in no way authorises wholesale or part transmission of posts or parts of posts to another site without prior permission being given and attribution stated. Any sites using RSS or ATOM feeds in this way without obtaining prior written permission of the author of this blog will be subject to legal action.

Currently Reading

Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas by Rebecca Smith

Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmasby Rebecca Smith

Recently Read

James Wyatt, Architect to George III by John Martin Robinson

James Wyatt, Architect to George III by John Martin Robinson

Uvedale Price (1747-1829): Decoding the Picturesque” by Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell

Uvedale Price (1747-1829): Decoding the Picturesque” by Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell

"The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, published by Prospect Books.

"The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, published by Prospect Books.

The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, edited by Helen Lefroy and Gavin Turner

The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, edited by Helen Lefroy and Gavin Turner

Understanding Jane Austen: Key Concepts in the Six Novels

Understanding Jane Austen: Key Concepts in the Six Novels

The London Square by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

The London Square” by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

"What Matters in Jane Austen?:Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved" by John Mullan

"What Matters in Jane Austen?:Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved" by John Mullan

May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen's Nieces in Ireland by Sophia Hillan

May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen's Nieces in Ireland by Sophia Hillan

An Introduction to the Tokens at the Foundling Museum” by Janette Bright and Gillian Clarke

An Introduction to the Tokens at the Foundling Museum” by Janette Bright and Gillian Clarke

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David Coke and Alan Borg

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David Coke and Alan Borg

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art by Aileen Ribeiro

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art by Aileen Ribeiro

Johan Zoffany by Mary Webster

Johan Zoffany by Mary Webster

Bergere,Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear  by Serena Dyer

Bergere,Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear” by Serena Dyer

The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons by Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West

The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons by Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West

Jane Austen's Letters (4th Edition) edited by Deirdre Le Faye

Jane Austen's Letters (4th Edition) edited by Deirdre Le Faye

Ice Cream by Ivan Day

Ice Cream by Ivan Day

Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century by Sabine Rewald

Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century by Sabine Rewald

Pastel Portraits of 18th Century Europe by Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelly

Pastel Portraits of 18th Century Europe by Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelly

The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman

The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion 1795-1815 by Christina Barreto and Martin Lancaster

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion 1795-1815 by Christina Barreto and Martin Lancaster

Regarding Thomas Rowlandson: His Life, Art and Acquaintance by Matthew and James Payne

Regarding Thomas Rowlandson: His Life, Art and Acquaintance by Matthew and James Payne

The Omnipotent Magician:Lancelot "Capability" Brown by Jane Brown

The Omnipotent Magician:Lancelot "Capability" Brown by Jane Brown

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, Second Edition.

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, Second Edition.

Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, edited by Patricia Phagan

Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, edited by Patricia Phagan

Ralph Allen, Builder of Bath by Diana Winsor

Ralph Allen, Builder of Bath by Diana Winsor

Fashioning Fashion European Dress in Detail 1700-1915

Fashioning Fashion European Dress in Detail 1700-1915

Jellies and their Moulds by Peter Brears

Jellies and their Moulds by Peter Brears

Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance

Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance

Sir Thomas Lawrence by Michael Levey

Sir Thomas Lawrence by Michael Levey

The Georgian Buildings of Bath by Walter Ison

The Georgian Buildings of Bath by Walter Ison

The Catalogue to the Chatsworth Attic Sale

The Catalogue to the Chatsworth Attic Sale

State Beds and Throne Canopies:Care and Conservation by Val Davies

State Beds and Throne Canopies:Care and Conservation by Val Davies

 The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century by Timothy Brittain-Catlin

The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century by Timothy Brittain-Catlin

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital by Dan Cruickshank

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital by Dan Cruickshank

London's Country Houses by Caroline Knight

London's Country Houses by Caroline Knight

Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill by Michael Snodin

Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill by Michael Snodin

Quilts 1700-2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories by Sue Prichard

Quilts 1700-2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories by Sue Prichard

Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicine and Manners by Katherine Cahill

Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicine and Manners by Katherine Cahill

Mrs Delany and her Circle by Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts

Mrs Delany and her Circle by Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 1)

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 1)

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 2)

Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India 1798-1801

Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India 1798-1801 edited by Nancy K Shields

Enterprising Women and Shipping in the 19th Century by Helen Doe

Enterprising Women and Shipping in the 19th Century by Helen Doe

Over a Red Hot Stove edited by Ivan Day

Over a Red Hot Stove edited by Ivan Day

Coke of Norfolk 1754-1843: A Biography

Coke of Norfolk 1754-1843: A Biography by Susanna Wade Martins

Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830

Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain Edited by John Bonehill and Stephen Daniels

Silhouette: The Art of Shadow by Emma Rutherford

Silhouette: The Art of Shadow by Emma Rutherford

The Dress of the People by John Styles

The Dress of the People by John Styles

Behind Closed Doors by Amanda Vickery

Behind Closed Doors by Amanda Vickery

The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, Chawton Edition

The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, Chawton Edition

A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell

A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell

Austenonly Flickr

April 2019
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  
Protected by Copyscape plagiarism checker - duplicate content and unique article detection software.
Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
UK Blog Directory
wordpress counter
%d bloggers like this: