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Dressing for Jane Austen Summer Camp

December 30, 2012

Janeites, with the turning of the calendar and the start of the year 2013 begins the countdown to JASNA CT’s Jane Austen Summer Camp. We hope you’re as excited as your event planners! It will be a full weekend of learning about Jane Austen’s daily activities and pastimes, and what better way to do that than by dressing as Jane and her siblings (Cassandra, James, Edward, Henry, and Frank) and contemporaries may have dressed? While period costume is certainly not required at Jane Austen Summer Camp, we encourage you to get into the full spirit of learning about Jane and Regency life by experiencing a Regency wardrobe.

Wondering what to wear to JASNA CT’s first Summer Camp retreat? Here are some fantastic resources to help you get the authentic Regency look, whether you’re making your own costume or purchasing one from a vendor:

Period Clothing Research and Articles

This website offers a well-researched overview of the extended Regency period and how styles evolved throughout, as well as great ideas for creating your own costume and achieving the period-correct look. It doesn’t neglect the gents, either! It’s an older site and a few of the links are broken, but it’s still incredibly valuable for the information provided.

This blog post is a good overview of the costuming information presented at the JASNA AGM in Brooklyn this past fall.

This is a wonderful compilation of images from various sources, such as museums, antique textile dealers, and period fashion publications, all depicting fashions from the extended Regency era in Europe and elsewhere. Particularly useful are the links at the bottom of the page to image collections of various categories of Undress, Half Dress, Full Dress, and outerwear and accessories for all aspects of fashionable life during the Regency, with helpful explanations of each.

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath’s Women’s Fashion page with links to articles discussing the various types of dress and the history of Regency fashion.

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers offers basic information on evening/ball dress for both women and men during the Regency period, along with tips for achieving the correct appearance with modern garments. Both pages also list sewing patterns that are available to help you achieve the correct look.

Visual Inspiration

  • Log on to and search “Regency Fashion” for numerous images of Regency/Empire-era fashion plates, costumes, and extant garments from museums.
  • Visit Dames a La Mode for fashion plates from numerous fashion publications of the era. You can even search by year to see how fashions changed from the late Georgian era to the end of the true Regency.

The Look for Less

Two videos that will help you adapt modern clothing to achieve a historical impression, one for men and one for women. This is a great way to get a wearable costume that approximates a Regency appearance without a significant expense!

This is a wonderful rundown of the most essential elements of the Regency women’s silhouette and how to achieve them without making or purchasing a reproduction or period-accurate costume.

The same blogger as above also provides a rundown of the most essential elements of Regency men’s clothing–and explains why it is not so easy to fake a man’s costume with modern garments. But she still offers some great tips for approximating the look.

Other Helpful Links

The Regency Society of America has a wonderful forum, and the Costume & Patterns boards are worth perusing.

The Oregon Regency Society’s blog offers wonderful tips for getting the correct silhouette and on costume construction.

For the gents, LACMA has recently published free downloadable PDF patterns based on several of the extant men’s garments held in their collection, including a frock coat from 1790-95. You’ll have to print out and scale up the patterns, and it will take some knowledge to assemble them without instructions, but they’re taken from period garments and they’re FREE!

  • There are some great patterns available, and some that are just not worth the trouble and expense. It’s a really good idea to check reviews of patterns before you use them. If you’re keen to make your own from one of the many commercial patterns available, PLEASE check out the Great Pattern Review of the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild (that’s San Francisco Bay area): Just look up the pattern company and see if one of GBACG’s members has reviewed the pattern you’re interested in using. Heed their advice–these folks know what they’re talking about! is also a good source of reviews on historical patterns.

 Best of luck–and we hope to see you at the Jane Austen Summer Camp in all your Regency-attired glory!

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