Jane Austen Fest Speakers

Using fashion prints from her collection, Candice will provide an overview of the types of clothing worn during the time of Jane Austen. Candice will explore fashions for various occasions or activities, including day wear and evening wear. Terms used during the period -- such as undress, half dress and full dress -- will be explained and illustrated with prints. Popular types of outerwear will also be showcased, including pelisses, spencers, and mantles. The general evolution of style will also be discussed, including changing waistlines, hemlines, and bonnets.

Candice's PowerPoint presentation uses lots and lots of beautiful images from ladies' magazines of the period. She will bring examples of individual issues of some of those magazines.

Bio

Candice Hern is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical romances set during the English Regency, a period she knows well through years of collecting antiques, ladies' magazines, and fashion prints of the era. Her award-winning website is often cited for its Collections and its Regency era information. She lives in Minneapolis, and is on the board of directors of the Minnesota Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

Jane Austen’s letters and novels have numerous references to shopping. She wrote in her letters about shopping in London and Bath. She and her characters shopped not only in those cities, but also in smaller towns—Basingstoke and Overton the nearest towns to Jane’s girlhood home, and the fictional Meryton, Highbury, and Sanditon. These references span 1798 to 1815. This was a time of transition in fashion, and the choices of Jane and her characters serve as a guide for these changes. In my presentation I will supplement her references with contemporary newspaper advertisements, fashion illustrations, and other period sources to present a timeline of fashion for this period.

The Fashion of Female Characters in Austen's Novels

What is the relationship between outer and inner beauty in Austen’s novels? On the one hand, the author satirizes the preoccupation with self-display fueled by vanity and social maneuvering, but the good-natured Musgrove sisters “liv[e] to be fashionable, happy, and merry” and Austen herself shows a passion for fashion in her letters. Dr. Anderson will explore how the personal styles of Austen's female characters reflect their inward traits and motives, and whether their mode of “finery” ruptures or reinforces the social fabric. There will be a fashion survey with prizes and a lively discussion.

In Sense and Sensibility, when Lucy Steele interrogates Marianne Dashwood on her wardrobe, right down to the “colour of her shoes,” she is probably not the only Austen character with a keen interest in what other women are wearing on their feet. After all, many of Austen’s female characters have shoe issues, noticed by or made known to others—Elizabeth Bennet has been tromping through the mud, at the cost of a dirty petticoat and general disarray (no doubt including shoes) from the exertion; Charlotte Lucas Collins and Elizabeth Bennet are “prevented” from accompanying Mr. Collins through his two meadows ostensibly because they don’t have appropriate shoes, and Miss Bates is elated that her “quite thick shoes” have made it possible for her to come to the ball.

All Austen’s characters wear shoes, and for fancy occasions, for trousseaux, and for all the necessities of life, the right shoe needs its stamp of approval. In this discussion, we will take a look in our heroines’ closets to see just what footwear is needed to make our protagonists outstanding.