I love learning about Jane Austen’s life and the history of fashion during her time. I absolutely love the costumes in the movie adaptations of her work, but there is one question that I have always had: is it Regency, or Georgian?
Jane Austen’s books are set in the Regency era (1811-1820), which is a sub-period of the Georgian era (1714-1830s). Austen’s books were written during the few short years when high-waisted empire dresses with short sleeves and décolletté necklines reigned supreme in the fashion world. When long sleeves were introduced in evening dress, she wrote Cassandra:
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I wear my gauze gown today long sleeves & all; I shall see how they succeed, but as yet I have no reason to suppose long sleeves are allowable. Mrs. Tilson has long sleeves too, & she assured me that they are worn in the evening by many. I was glad to hear this.
– Jane Austen, 1814