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Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  480 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The broader Regency period 1795-1820 stands alone as an incredible moment in fashion history unlike anything that went before or after. It was the most naked period since Ancient Greece and before the 1960s, and for the first time England became a fashion influence, especially for menswear, and became the toast of Paris. With the ancient regime deposed, court dress became ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Shire Publications
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  480 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Abigail Bok
Jul 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Sarah Jane Downing’s tiny book—64 pages, lavishly illustrated—is both more and less than a history of fashion in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (mostly in England).

On the “more” side, it places fashion in the context of the shifting ideas and historical events of the age: for instance, the simple, high-waisted shifts that came into the mode for women in the 1790s are seen as reflecting ideas about liberty, interest in neoclassicism, and changing notions about child-rearing.
Carole (in Canada)
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: JAFF, Historical Romance
Shelves: reference-book
This is a small compendium on Regency fashion that provides an overview of the history, reasons for the fashion and some rather interesting nuggets of information. I wanted to read it, so I would have a better understanding about the clothing of the period when reading. I enjoyed the references to Jane's letters to her sister, Cassandra, regarding fashion and the pictures showing some examples. There are some beautiful paintings included along with some rather amusing caricatures and fashion pla ...more
I'll admit that a lot of the historical references went over my head, but overall this was super informative despite its brevity--not to mention filled with a variety of wonderful pictures. I was generally interested in the fashion of the Regency era, but having a book focus on the fashion of Jane Austen and her books specifically was perfect.
Sotiris Karaiskos
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a fanatical reader of Jane Austen's books, which is why I expect to love their films and TV adaptations. In these adaptations I have always been impressed by the protagonists' clothes, which is why I learned a lot more about them. This book deals with this issue in much more detail and contains a wealth of information accompanied by very enlightening images. I especially like that it is talking about the political dimension of fashion at that time, with the French Revolution giving the insp ...more
Rebecca Rosenberg
Great background on nineteenth century fashion

Very informative guide to European fashion i
During Jane Austen's era. The photos are helpful also. Great resource for my upcoming novel Champagne Widows.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Useful high level overview for getting additional search terms, etc.
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Loved it! Amazing in depth look at the styles of the time period, with a TON of primary sources - some fantastic paintings and drawings that really showed the varieties and intricacies of the style, both for men and women. Loved seeing both what it influenced later and what was influencing its inception.

Gemma (Non Fic Books)
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lovely little compact book giving a nice overview of the fashions Jane Austen would have known and worn. A great addition to the Shire History series.
Farah Aden
Peacock feathers, fruit in hats, fans with political messages that replaced biblical ones...
Fashion, history, politics, philosophy, literature and culture! Great read! I wouldn't have understood half of it were it not for the paintings.

'Men and women were becoming polarised: once men had realised the comfort and camaraderie of their own company they were less keen to adopt the 'full dress' and fine manners necessary for female society. Women lost any freedoms they may have gained with the rise
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Just what I was after - a brief primer on fashion in the social-historical context with lovely illustrations.
A little glistening jewel of information on British fashion during the Georgian and Regency periods

Revolution had changed the world and fashion had dressed it accordingly.” Sarah Jane Downing

It is hard for me not to think of a Jane Austen movie adaptation and not remember how fashion influenced my enjoyment of the film. Some of my most vivid memories are of Elizabeth Bennet walking the verdant countryside in her russet colored spencer jacket in Pride and Prejudice 1995, Marianne Dashwood sprai
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Ok SO. I love fashion history. I like history in general, but fashion history is my THING. I own a lot of books about it, and yes I have read them too! I didn't have anything about the romantic period yet, so I thought this one would be amazing. Unfortunately, it isn't.

Now, on the back of the book it doesn't state that this book would just be about Jane Austen and her books, nor does the title imply it, but I feel like the book needs a new title: "Fashion in the Books of Jane Austen" would be be
A book writtend for the popular audience without foot/end notes. The omission of the latter made me give it 4 stars, but it is full of information and is well-illustrated, in color. I would have liked information on who created the paintings or sources of the illustrations. The fashion is, of course, limited to the upper 10,000 (as the phrase went), but does include attention to the attire of the children of the gentry and nobility. I would have liked a definition of the difference (or a stateme ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, europe
I read this slim volume in one sitting. It's great because I didn't want to read a giant tome about Regency fashion and its political and sociological implications - I just wanted a primer and this is it. This book explains why and how fashion changed so abruptly for both men and women.
Ayne Ray
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
A mere wisp of a book at only 63 pages, but it is informative and engaging with plenty of illustrations. I was left wanting more, but was pleased with what was provided.
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting with plenty of nice illustrations.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
A small book (more of a pamplet, really) that only takes into consideration certain aspects of "fashion". Of course the authoress is only concerned with what the upper middle classes (like Austen's family) and those above them were wearing, but even so she misses a few points of interest--such as the fact that a "lady's" sleeves, be they long or short, were set in such a way that it was difficult for her to raise her arms above her head. It was considered that she would have someone else (a serv ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A perfectly tidy primer on Regency fashion, from the cutaway Redingote to the silk pelisse. The visuals are delightful, including a few amusing caricatures drawn by sartorial satirists of the day. This thin volume hits all the right notes while describing the vanities of the gentry in Jane Austen's era. Who knew that men and women both availed themselves of "falsies"--from wax bosoms to padding that made everything from a sunken chest to bow legs look more muscular. Proving that fashion was just ...more
Krista D.
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
In all honesty, I already knew everything in this book when I read it a couple years ago.. However, what I appreciated was the structure of how the information was laid out which allows me to keep coming back to double check my work, remind myself of a date, etc.

For a beginner, this is a fabulous book to get readers started. It's written in an approachable style that doesn't treat clothing like it existed in a bubble.

Highly recommend.
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short and fairly simple but still some interesting points. I'd have liked more detail.
Karen Cowgill
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book!! I love fashion, especially fashion history. This was a very intriguing book.
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: regency
Cute mini intro to the social and political forces in the Regency era that affected fashions of the time. Lots of great illustrations as well. Makes me want to read a lot more on the subject.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short but contains a lot of detail. I wish there were more pictures. I really like the full colour thick pages.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book because it wove the history both politically, economically, and technologically together to show why certain styles changed. Also the pictures were good quality.
Nicki Markus
Nov 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-non-fiction
Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen was an interesting read as I liked the way the author linked fashion changes to the events that influenced them. However, I would have liked the book to be a little longer to include more information on the clothing of the day, even if it was only in the form of a glossary that listed every item of clothing with a short sentence on what it was and when it was worn.
As an author, I want to make my works historically accurate and I have yet to find a decent book o
Lisa Frase
Jan 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I bought this book as a reference for my research into the Regency period. There are lots of wonderful colored pictures of fashions, as well as information on the fashions. It's a good book for Regency writers to have around. The only downside (for me) is that there are as many, if not more, Georgian fashions than Regency. I would also like pictures and information on unmentionables -information that the author did not mention. All in all, I do not regret purchasing this book. I need visuals whe ...more
Rianne Werring
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Only one thing kept me from giving this book a five star review: it's as wispy and thin as a corsetted lady! Apart from that, it's a very informative bit of writing, with helpful illustrations providing detailed information on fashion in the time of Jane Austen. A help to anyone interested in the fashion of the period, in the meaning of historical fashion on the socio-political level, or with a love for Ms Austen's work.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a very short book, but nonetheless packed chock full of information on Regency fashions. It was especially enlightening in that it was filled with color fashion plates of dresses and other accoutrements of the time. It’s all a bit much to wrap one’s head around, the very subtle differences in one pelisse and another, one walking dress, one day dress, etc. But as a reference material for Austen-era fashion, it is irreplaceable.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans, history buffs
A short, concise history of the development of fashion trends in Georgian England, Fashion in the time of Jane Austen by Sarah-Jane Downing is a fascinating read. Brilliantly put together, the book is filled with fashion plates and artwork from the period, providing the reader a true glimpse into the revolutionary fashion of the time. Recommended!
Lynne Tull
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the greatest little book...63 pages. I have been reading historical fiction forever...especially, the English Regency Period. This book is full of illustrations and the text relates them to Jane Austen books and the Period in general. If you are an Anglophile, you might enjoy this book...maybe you have already found it...and I am a little behind?
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