2020: Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion
Jane Austen is, foremost, a social commentator. Dress is a nuanced social marker, and her novels use clothing and needlework to pinpoint niceties of character. Austen’s letters reveal a lively interest in clothes, alongside her concerns about how to dress well on limited income. During the author’s short life, unprecedented and accelerated change saw Britain’s turbulent entry into the modern age. Clothing reflected these transitions on local and global scales, and exploring the dress experiences of people who lived through Austen’s age goes a long way to understanding her work, her time, and its histories. In this talk, dress historian Hilary Davidson explores the lives and dress of the middle-class British gentry during the ‘long’ Regency (1795-1823) through the lens of Jane Austen’s life and writing, drawing on five years of research for her ground-breaking 2019 book, Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion.