December 31, 2013: Fanny’s Beautiful Gown

On the last day of 2013, many young ladies are putting on gowns to go to parties to signal the end of one year and welcome the new. It reminded me of Fanny’s gown for the wedding at the end of Alias Thomas Bennet. She was also welcoming the new, in watching Jane and Elizabeth marry truly wonderful gentlemen.

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I love looking at beautiful Regency dresses, so it’s no surprise that I wanted to include them in my novel. Now, for those of you who are tempted to rush forth and quote Mr. Bennet’s protests against descriptions of such finery (the line “no more lace” comes from Andrew Davies, not Austen), I’ll argue that our dear Jane Austen spoke quite a lot about fashion in her letters to her sister Cassandra.

May 24 1813 (letter 87) “Mrs. Hare has some pretty caps, and is to make me one like one of them, only white satin instead of blue. It will be white satin and lace, and a little white flower perking out of the left ear, like Harriot Byron’s feather. I have allowed her to go as far as L1-16. My Gown is to be trimmed everywhere with white ribbon plaited on, somehow or other. She says it will look well. I am not sanguine. They trim with white very much.”

Suffice it to say I felt justified in including a little white satin. And cerulean lace. And so forth.

The descriptions of most of the gowns in Alias Thomas Bennet come from my head and are a mish-mash of ideas gleaned from fashion plates of the Regency era in such magazines as Le Beau Monde and Ackerman’s Repository for Art, as well as inspiration from other Regency writers, particularly Georgette Heyer. But Fanny’s gown is very close to a real gown that I first saw on the tumblr site of ornamentedbeing, from circa 1811.

It’s truly lovely.

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I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!