Experts say that fashion goes in cycles of every 20 to 40 years, which means we tend to look back at what was in style 20, 30, or 40 years ago, and revive those fashions for our current look. In the 1980s we glorified the 60s. The 90s took a look back at the 70s. The 2000s were all about the 80s, and now we seem to be obsessing about the 90s. The non-fashion minded may not notice this so much, but if you take a look at fashion magazines or popular TV shows, you will catch a glimpse of the trend. If you’re older, you might remember that in the 1970s, fashion hearkened all the way back to the 1940s with women wearing platform shoes, high rise pants, and sporting plucked, arched eyebrows.
Today, we have so much “disposable fashion,” that people can afford to change it up often. But certainly, in the 19th century, clothing was more complicated and made with great care. Even the wealthy didn’t have so many changes of clothing and people valued their clothes like they valued other expensive possessions. Therefore, fashion trends remained in place longer. In the world of cyclical fashion, however, it’s interesting to note that, by the early part of the twentieth century, women were wearing dresses that echoed the look of one hundred years before. The fashions of 1910 mirrored those of 1810. Waistlines were raised to just under the bust, leaving those long, flowing skirts that we see in Jane Austen’s day, somewhat reminiscent of a Greek goddess, and less structured than clothes of the Victorian era.
The plot of my new JAFF novel, Incandescent, a modern day mingling of Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion, to be released in late March or early April, involves the making of a new Pride and Prejudice movie adaptation. Instead of being set in the Regency (or Empire) era, the film’s director has decided to place the action in Edwardian England, around 1910. The characters from Persuasion are actors in the movie. “Annie” Elliot plays Elizabeth, and…well, the actor playing Mr. Darcy is where the twist is, so I’m not telling you that part. As the plot of Pride and Prejudice plays out on set, the plot of Persuasion plays out off set, and the actors experience aspects of P&P in real life as well. One thing that is making the movie-within-the book even more interesting, other than it taking place in the Edwardian era, is that the cast of P&P is of mixed race. I’ve been having a good time playing with diversity of race and sexual orientation in the two stories, something you don’t generally get to do when writing a novel that takes place in Regency times.
So, in celebration of the upcoming release of Incandescent, I’ve peppered into this post some of the fashions from both the Edwardian and Empire eras for you to compare. I’m finding it so interesting looking at the similarities and differences and I hope you do to.