During Austen’s era, fashion leaders looked to the past for inspiration. Anything that resembled ancient Rome or Greece was bound to be popular, from sandals and nymph like gowns, to short hair cuts for ladies, like the Titus or Brutus.
One accessory that remained popular from the late 1700’s through mid 1800’s, was the bandeau (plural=bandeaux). The name comes from the French word for “strip” and involved wrapping ribbon, pearls or a length of fabric though one’s hairstyle, or around one’s head (sometimes even the forehead). The result was often styled “à la Grecque”, no doubt heightening it’s appeal all the more.
Every year at the Jane Austen Centre we select a member staff to represent us in marketing and advertising as the Face of The Jane Austen Centre.
Our staff enjoy the process. We get in a professional photographer and spend quite a bit of time getting the look just right.
Elle is wearing her guide costume plus a bonnet made from velvet. She is accessorised with a lace fan, lace gloves and a string of pearls. Normally our guides don’t use these accessories but we all now feel that they should! We will invest in a few more important items for everyone to wear.
You might remember seeing other members of staff in the same role. 2 years ago it was Becca our Online Giftshop manager, last year it was Jennie the Centre Manager and this year it’s Elle one of our guides. She looks great don’t you think?
Photo by Owen Benson
Colours in Regency Fashion
Colours are always integral to fashion and the names given to the new shades of the season as imaginative as they are confusing. Where trend gurus of 2006 push aubergine, petrol, raspberry, mustard, and moss on us; their counterparts of two centuries ago were not slow in urging its female readership to wear coquelicot, canary, pomona, jonquil or puce. But what did the colours really look like?
While ivory, rose, peach and lavender are quite easy to figure out, others are more obscure. Many colours were named after plants; roses being rosy red and lavender a delicate pale greyish purple. Slate, a dark grey reminiscent of paving stones, was popular for riding and walking dresses, while light purples, such as violet or lilac, adorned many a modest maiden. In Jane Austen’s time dyes were expensive, pigments made of natural substances and the resulting hues rather muted compared to our modern artificial dyes, hence even a bright yellow would not be as bright as we would imagine. Few pigments were colourfast; many faded in the sunlight or ran in the wash.
Chokers (necklaces that sit tight to the throat) have been popular throughout history– from Anne Boleyn’s famous “B”, to Empress Sisi’s simple black ribbon. Today they can be found made of anything from hemp to diamonds.
During Jane Austen’s lifetime, chokers were worn in many forms, from this vintage Georgian aquamarine and diamond creation, tied on with ribbon, to strands of pearls, to a simple ribbon tied about the neck. During the French Revolution, female French expatriots used to wear a thin red ribbon choker as a silent testament to their own narrow escape and in memory of their many friends and family members who were not as lucky. Soon all of London wanted to wear the red ribbon, beginning one of the first times in history when a ribbon has been used as a gesture of solidarity and sympathy with a class of victims.
Ribbon chokers might also be accented by a jeweled slide or cameo pin.
Here are a few images of chokers throughout history, from Anne Boleyn (1507-1536), to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744–1818) to Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and Mary of Teck (1867–1953) who preferred the style with ropes of pearls.