What began as research for a vignette (more on that later), has developed into a deep dive into the history of women’s fashion in England. I’ve always loved the costumes in Austen films, but I never realized just how interesting those free flowing, form showing dresses were in regards to history.
As you can see in this lovely graphic by Terrizae on Deviant Art, the empire waist dresses with their freely moving skirts were a mere blip on the map of fashion. As early as 1830, those big skirts were back.
Beautiful as they were, the large hoop skirts made it difficult to move about in a normal way. Can you imagine just trying to sit down in one of those? I think most of us modern ladies would have a hard time managing. And let’s not even think about going to the bathroom!
So why, then, did the empire-waist come into fashion at all? According to historic-uk.com, there was a renewed interest during this time period on Classical works of art and literature. That is to say, the Greeks and Romans were cool again, and people wanted to dress like them.
What I find so amusing is the fact that these dresses, like the one Elizabeth Bennet wears in every adaptation, were considered bold and daring! I confess, I would love to have each and every one of the dresses in this pretty graphic, if only I had somewhere to wear them!