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Regency "Emma," 2008

Like a lot of historical costumers, I started out with Regency dresses because of their relative simplicity, and now I think I can probably make them in my sleep. I got onto a renewed Regency kick, like a lot of women do, this year after watching a bunch of Jane Austen movies… that, and I suddenly decided to mainline the entire Sharpe series, so my brain was up to its figurative eyebrows in high waistlines and dainty bonnets. (And my heart up to its figurative eyebrows in Sean Bean in uniform.) No matter how old we get, I think we also like to try to imagine which plucky Jane Austen heroine we are this time... I am pretty sure I was aiming for Elinor Dashwood, or even the slightly more age-appropriate Anne Elliot, but once the hair and makeup went on, I think it's clear that this is obviously well-meaning ditz Emma Woodhouse! (Good lord, I am almost old enough to be Mrs. Dashwood.) The only reason I didn't shoop a picture of Colin Firth into the portrait necklace (it's Queen Elizabeth I) is because I don't have the skills. I wanted to.

I didn't break a lot of ground with this dress. It's your standard back-closing, poofy-sleeves number. “Emma" is a white cotton morning dress with woven stripes and tucks around the hem, inspired by Emma Thompson’s white dress in “Sense and Sensibility” and an 1810 fashion plate I saw featuring a white dress with tucks that went all the way up to knee level- I made an error in cutting and sadly wasn't able to make enough tucks to replicate the effect, but I like it anyway. The spencer jacket is a beautiful mottled rust-brown wool remnant I bought something like 15 years ago and never had call to use until now. Both are based on the La Mode Bagatelle patterns, both with some minor modifications. I raised the neckline on the dress and gathered the top edge, and I left the collar off the spencer and bound it with self bias.

Photography courtesy of Aurora Vanderbosch, Grace Notes Photography. Bonnet by Austentation. Wig by Petting Zoo Wigs. Portrait pendant by Parrish Relics.

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Click to view larger image: Spencer Back Click to view larger image: Spencer Front

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