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Today, on Jane Austen’s 235th birthday, I am recalling one of the grandest events of my lifetime. I’m not referring to my wedding, nor the days my children were born. Nothing can compare to those days, but this was a great literary event that my husband and I attended in 2007 – A Jane Austen Gala!
Playing make believe was really fun for the Jane Austen Gala. That kind of thing may not be everyone’s cup o’ tea, but I tell you this, I have not had so much fun in ages! Though it wasn’t just dressing up in costume and attending the event that I enjoyed, but the preparation, the research, the blogging, the creating, the comradery, the reading Jane Austen and watching movies based on her books, the anticipation, the date with my husband! It was not just “making believe”, it was living history. As a writer, avid reader of regency romance, and history fanatic this affair was thrilling for me and truly brought me closer in my experience to that which I have ever been to this era.
Ah, but my attendance at a Regency Ball has caused me to consider how many ladies back then, who shared the meager position of my own, would have wished for such a chance. I was blessed that despite my humble lot in life that I was able to attend such an elegant event. Elizabeth Bennett dancing. Dancing with her own Mr. Darcy.
In God’s kingdom we are not limited by economy, but are blessed by His glorious riches.
If you’d like to see my blog posts about Jane Austen and our preparation
for the Jane Austen Gala please go to the category dropdown menu
and click on Jane Austen. As you read, be mindful that you’ll see
the later entries first. At the bottom of the page
click on PREVIOUS ENTRIES.
To celebrate Jane’s birthday I’ve visited some Jane websites and now I’m going to have a cup of tea and watch something Jane Austenish like Pride and Prejudice or Lost in Austen. How are you celebrating her birthday?
Here are pictures of our costumes with accessories. The costumes were created using items that were given or loaned to us, remnant fabrics, & miscellaneous items purchased from thrift stores. For instance, the tail coat my husband wore we actually “cut away” part of it to make the tails, good thing it was an old jacket. It was lots of fun being creative. And we didn’t have to spend much at all. My dress, including accessories was less than $8.
Embroidered satin slippers, embroidered and beaded reticule with tassel, hand sewn embroidered gloves, triple strand antique faux pearl bracelet with gold flower clasp, faux pearl necklace stranded with ribbon with a smoked faceted stone.
An ankle length gold satin gown with empire waist and cap sleeves was worn by the lady, embellished with gold tulle and yellow ribbon edged with white lace. Draped over the shoulders, a lace shawl (a curtain valance), pinned with antique cameo (not shown). The double breasted tail coat is made of a rich brown wool and embellished with 19th century replica golden buttons. A breast pocket holds a handkerchief with a golden floral pattern. Beneath (not shown), a white shirt with a high collar and a brown gold buttoned waistcoat (vest) was worn. Trousers were tucked into boots, thus completing the look of a country gentleman.
A white satin cravat is tied fashionably around the neck in a bow suitable for an afternoon soiree.
The head-dressing was a millinery feat of amateur proportions. A sheer cloth of scarlet was wrapped in a sheer burgundy ribbon stamped with a gold filigree design. The fabric was twisted around, tied in the front, and wrapped around the back and secured with a knot and clips. An antique replica butterfly pin, gold tassel and burgundy plumes were added to top it off.
“By the early 1800s, the powdered wigs of the Georgian era were forever relegated from fashion, as men of the period began wearing their hair short and natural.
During the Regency era, women’s clothing as well as hairstyles were modeled after Greek and Roman styles. Women wore their hair up and fastened their buns with ornamental combs, diadems, bonnets and silk ribbons. They parted their hair in the shape of T, V, Y and U’s. Regency girls often curled their hair at the front to crown their faces with soft ringlets. Ladies also wore bonnets, hats or turbans.”Ladies of Reenacting Regency Hairstyles
I am having a wonderful time getting ready for the Jane Austen Gala. The other day I spent some time with my groovy friend and her groovy little daughters and we pooled our resources and ideas for our costumes.
Last night, I went to my Mom’s and she, being the wonderful seamstress that she is, helped with the sewing necessary to complete the costumes for both myself and my dandy husband. She sewed a beautiful ribbon in place on my simple dress to give the illusion of an empire waist. I brought some pictures of how I wanted my hubby’s wool sportcoat to be revamped and by the time she was done she had created a coat cut short, and tapered to an angle at the sides and tails in the back. Now I just need to add the 9th century replica buttons that I found to complete it and he will look quite dashing indeed. My step-dad is a good gentlemen’s clothing consultant and offered some suggestions and has lended him a pair of boots that will work out quite well.
Our friend also came over with some of her delightful treasures to share with me for the grand event. She is also a great consultant for vintage matters and had some good ideas as I was putting the finishing touches on my costume. The three of us ladies enjoyed some tea as well. So much fun!
Jane Austen (1775–1817)
“Novelist, born in Steventon, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, S. England, UK, where her father was rector. She spent the first 25 years of her life there, and later lived in Bath, Southampton, Chawton, and Winchester. The fifth of a family of seven, she began writing for family amusement as a child. Love and Friendship (published 1922) dates from this period. Her early published work satirized the sensational fiction of her time, and applied common sense to apparently melodramatic situations – a technique she later developed in evaluating ordinary human behaviour. Of her six great novels, four were published anonymously during her lifetime and two under her signature posthumously. Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811, was begun in 1797; Pride and Prejudice appeared in 1813; Mansfield Park, begun in 1811, appeared in 1814; Emma in 1816. Her posthumous novels were both published in 1818; Persuasion had been written in 1815, and Northanger Abbey, begun in 1797, had been sold in 1803 to a publisher, who neglected it, and reclaimed it in 1816.” (From Jane Austen Biography)
But in fact, as well as a number of stories and unfinished novels – some of which were only written to entertain her family – Austen did complete one other book Lady Susan which is quite unlike the other Austen novels. It is written entirely in letters, and concerns the conflict between a heartless, manipulative woman and her daughter. Though not as polished as her other novels, it is clearly complete. Lady Susan is based on a society woman, whom the Austen family knew, who treated her daughters cruelly, yet Austen gives her anti-heroine an individual and highly amusing voice.