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Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen (Shire Library) Paperback – March 23, 2010


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Frequently Bought Together

Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen (Shire Library) + Georgette Heyer's Regency World + Georgian and Regency Houses Explained (England's Living History)
Price for all three: $45.12

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Product Details

  • Series: Shire Library
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Shire (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747807671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747807674
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An intriguing look into the fashions of England during Jane Austen's life...providing insightful perspectives on Austen's use of fashion in her books, including Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, among others. Complete with images on nearly every page, the book gives readers the opportunity to see the fashions of this age depicted in sketches, portraits and photographs of clothing surviving to this day, including some of Austen's own belongings. The book's frequent references to Austen's novels are crowned with excerpts from her letters, detailing an attention to the fashion of the time."—Deseret News

"A comprehensive overview...Deeply informative...Extremely authoritative...easily accessible and injected throughout with many wryly humorous asides and pertinent observations. It is also full of well argued insights into social behaviours as dictated by the fashions of the time...With sumptuous colour and black and white images from the period, including portraits, sketches, and photographs of extant clothing examples, this compact account is a wonderful resource for costume and fashion design students and professionals alike. It will also have a broader appeal to literary and social history enthusiasts, with numerous quotes from Austen’s books and letters that reinforce the author’s compelling arguments and astute observations. Highly recommended."—Vintage Fashion Guild
 
 

"Lavishly illustrated with a fine cross-section of illustrations from the period...Ties the life of Austen into the events happening in Britain and abroad, and how they affected the fashions and social lives of Regency men and women.

This is definitely a book for Austen fans, and devotees of the Regency period.  It is written with a light touch and an eye to the realities of dressing in fine and costly fabrics.  The attention to menswear is particularly interesting.  I was also taken with the reference to Rousseau's theories about childhood freedom and how it affected clothes for children.

Whilst clearly passionate about her subject, Downing is not above bringing in the voice of the satirists who mocked the fashionable.  This is a valuable little volume for anyone interested in Regency costume, and very handy for anyone writing about the period: both distracting and informative." —Georgian London

"Jam-packed with information and images...I will be using it frequently for future reference... Recommend[ed] highly to all readers who are interested in Regency fashion and historical romance writers who are interested in precise details of dress." —Jane Austen's World

About the Author

Sarah Jane Downing is a freelance writer with a special interest in the eighteenth century. She has written widely about the arts, contributing to national and local magazines and newspapers. She is the author of The English Pleasure Garden.

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Customer Reviews

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Best to say possibly Jane Austen to be safe and raise your credibility.
Laurel Ann
Ever since I learned that this book would be coming out in the spring, I couldn't wait for its arrival.
Vic
This book is full of fascinating information and wonderful illustrations.
Fan of Jane Austen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Ann Wass on April 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One does not expect comprehensive detail in one of the Shire albums, but one does expect what is there to be accurate. This book has absolutely wonderful illustrations (some, unfortunately, uncredited), but the text is mixed. Seems to have been written in a hurry, and without adequate verification. For example, Ms. Downing writes of men's fashion, "it was the 'battle between broadcloth and silk' as Balzac had termed it in 1798." Since Balzac was born in 1799, he clearly was looking back when he wrote this, rather than writing it in 1798! And, however much the Austen family wishes that the Rice portrait (p. 11) is Jane herself, that is extremely unlikely. A teen-aged Jane, even a fashion forward one, would not have dressed like that in 1792-93. The portrait is almost certainly someone of the next generation.

The price of the volume is low, so it worth buying for the pictures alone, but please do further research before accepting what is in the text.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Vic on April 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ever since I learned that this book would be coming out in the spring, I couldn't wait for its arrival. The title alone told me that it was tailor made to my interests. Slim and more a monograph than a book, Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen's 62 pages are jam-packed with information and images. Some of the material that author Sarah Jane Downing wrote about was familiar, but much of it was new. While I finished the book in two sittings, I know I will be using it frequently for future reference.

Until the Napoleonic Wars, France had influenced fashions in Britain and Europe. It was the custom of messengers known as les grandes couriers de la mode to deliver the latest French fashions to the great courts of Europe in person. Wearing designer creations, their costumes were analyzed from head to toe and then tried on and taken apart. Patterns were made from the resulting pieces. People who visited cities and returned home were plied with questions about the latest trends in fashions by those who stayed behind. Soon, fashion journals appeared showing images of fashions, home furnishings, and architectural plans, and new styles trickled down to even those who lived in the farthest reaches of England.

The French Revolution marked a radical shift from the elegant, wide-skirted brocade gowns so prevalent for most of the 18th century to the streamlined, body-hugging, empire-waisted silhouettes of the Directoire Period that were inspired by classical antiquity. Wide hooped skirts were still worn for appearances at court, but gowns became simpler, narrower, and more vertical. In fact, the change in dress silhouettes was so dramatic that such a radical shift in style would not occur again until the flapper era and the jazz age over a century later.
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Format: Paperback
"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 spraining her ankle and being carried to safety by Willoughby in her rain drenched white muslin frock in Sense & Sensibility 1995, or Mary Crawford ready to pounce like a black widow spider in her cobwebby evening dress in Mansfield Park 1999. Much of how we perceive Regency fashion today is from film costume designer's interpretations of the fashions during Jane Austen's time. I admit to admiring the fine cut of a gentleman's tailored redingote or the elegant flow of a ladies formal evening dress as much as the next Janeite, but am totally clueless about why and how fashion changed so drastically since the heavy brocades, embroidered silks and powdered wigs of pre-revolutionary France.

As an introduction to Georgian and Regency fashion, this slim 63 page volume answered many questions and gave me a better understanding of the evolution of fashion, its importance in society and how English style influenced the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Solitaire on October 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen for the sake of getting a free shipment. I participate in English Country Dancing in my county, and once a year my husband and I go to the big Jane Austen ball. I've taken my share of fashion courses in college, including History of Costume, so I wasn't expecting a lot of new information, but this little gem of a book is surprisingly informative with bits of info that I'd never heard previously. For instance the light colored, close fitting trousers that men wore were meant to allude to the nude legs of male antique Greco-Roman statues being unearthed at the time. A lot of good reference illustrations in contemporary cartoons as well as reproductions of paintings and engravings, some familiar, some not so much.

As I make our attire for the balls, the more information I have on what is authentic, including colors, fabrics, et al, the better our Austen inspired costumes come off at the events. I know I only gave this book four stars, but only because I wish that the book had been longer with more of the same good info. I read it cover to cover in about an hour. However I do believe it's worth the money for anyone with an appreciation of the Regency or an interest in researching authentic clothing of the period.
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