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Dressing for Mourning in the Regency

My mother is preparing mourning for Mrs. E. K.; she has picked her old silk pelisse to pieces, and means to have it dyed black for a gown — a very interesting scheme, though just now a little injured by finding that it must be placed in Mr. Wren’s hands, for Mr. Chambers is gone. As for Mr. Floor, he is at present rather low in our estimation. How is your blue gown? Mine is all to pieces. I think there must have been something wrong in the dye, for in places it divided with a touch. There was four shillings thrown away, to be added to my subjects of never-failing regret. Jane Austen to Cassandra Oct 7,1808 Much of what we now assume to be hard and fast rules of 19th c. mourning were really the brought into play during the Victorian era when ettiquette books became a popular way for the newly burgeoning middle class to immitate the behaviour of their more established “betters”. To be sure, some rules applied, but printed lists similar to this one from 1875 would not have been found: Parent or Child: Twelve Months, six in parametta with crepe trim, three months in black, three in half mourning Sibling: Six months, three in crepe, three in black Aunt or Uncle: Three months in black First Cousin: Six weeks in black How then, would the Austen’s have prepared for mourning? Their lives were continueally touched by sorrow and the question of what to wear

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