Jane Austen’s Wardrobe

This gorgeous book by fashion historian Hilary Davidson uses Jane Austen’s letters to show that she was not a dowdy spinster, but was very aware of fashion trends. She was also thrifty and eager to re-use or re-purpose clothing to stay up-to-date.

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On January 9, 1799, Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra: “I am not to wear my white satin cap to night after all; I am to wear a Mamalouc cap instead, which Charles Fowle sent to Mary, & which she lends me.–It is all the fashion now, worn at the Opera, & by Lady Mildmays at Hackwoods balls–I hate describing such things, & I daresay you will be able to guess what it is like.” The page below shows a print from Fashions of London and Paris, February 1804 in which one of the models wear a “Mamaluk turban.” This print is from Candice’s collection.

On April 20, 1811, Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra that “nothing can satisfy me but I must have a straw hat, of the riding hat shape, like Mrs. Tilson’s; & a young woman in this Neighborhood is actually making me one.” The page below shows a green riding habit, La Belle Assemblée, June 1812, from Candice’s collection.



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