The broader Regency period 1795 to 1820, stands alone as an incredible moment in fashion history, unlike anything that went before it. For the first time, England became a fashion influence, especially for menswear, and became the toast of Paris, as court dress became secondary to the season-by-season flux of fashion as we know it today. Sarah Jane Downing explores the fashion revolution and the innovation that inspired a flood of fashions taking influence from far afield. It was an era of contradiction immortalised by Jane Austen, who adeptly used the new-found diversity of fashion to enliven her characters: Wickham's military splendour; Mr Darcy's understated elegance; and Miss Tilney's romantic fixation with white muslin.
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.