Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Appearing to Much Advantage": Style Inspired by Austen’s Books

“Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings -- plain black shoes -- appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense."
“Indeed I shall say no such thing."
-Jane Austen,
Northanger Abbey

I’ve been reading and watching rather a lot of Jane Austen recently (as you could probably tell from my last post), and I decided to take some of the ideas from that post and apply them to Austen characters. The leads specifically, though I do not love all of them equally and some have proved very challenging, indeed. And, with Halloween tomorrow, the timing seemed right to do another character-inspired post.

Austen Lolita - Catherine Morland

Catherine Morland is a delightful little creature. The youngest of the Austen girls and the most impressionable of the bunch, Catherine is a lover of gothic novels. She also is inclined to think well of those she meets (unless her imagination runs away with her).

With her love of gothic novels, the temptation to dress Cathy in gothic Lolita was great, but, frankly, it doesn't really suit the character. What does suit her are nods to the aesthetic she becomes obsessed with - a small castle black ring here, a book-shaped bag there, black as an accent color in a mostly white outfit. Catherine isn't particularly dark herself, though, so I wanted to keep things as light as possible.

For her hair, I chose something light and young. A lot of regency hairstyles were heavily coiffed and ornamented, but I wanted to keep things simple from our country girl. A white head wrap and loose updo suit the simplicity of the outfit and her character.

The shoes are historically accurate, and I included the black rhinestone shoe clips to keep the touches of black consistent. The clocked silk stockings, while not period accurate, are a great way to add a little more black.

Austen Lolita - Elinor and Marianne Dashwood

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood need to be put together, so I do hope you will forgive me for cramming two coords into one image. I also decided to express their connection by using different colorways of the same JSK to create the two different looks. They are sisters, after all.

Elinor, being more controlled, gets the deep burgundy version of the JSK. Because I wanted her to be colorful rather than simply dark, because she is controlled but hardly dark or unfeeling, I paired this deep JSK color with a forest green spencer jacket, green slip on shoes, and a nice pair of green earrings.

For hairstyles, Elinor's is, again, controlled. An updo with detailed braids, it is designed to keep her hair out of her face and will show off those pretty earrings beautifully.

Marianne, on the other hand, is more free-flowing because she is giving of herself and, one could say, a bit too open. Her hair is, therefore, easily the least structured of any of the characters I've interpreted here, a loose 1790s hairstyle with a head wrap.

Marianne's version of the JSK is lighter of color, a pale blush shade, and her blouse likewise. I wanted to maintain the lower neckline of the JSK, so I chose a blouse that would not show much beneath it, just enough to add a thin white border above the neckline and two puffed sleeves. The Hamlet purse is a nod to her love of poetry, and of Shakespeare's sonnets in particular. The pink ballet flats are a nod to regency shoes.

Austen Lolita - Elizabeth Bennet

Lizzie Bennet is everyone's favorite, so this was honestly the most daunting of the coordinates to create. Do I create a look for a ball, like the one where she meets Darcy? Do I use a traveling outfit? A simple outfit for taking a turn and receiving Darcy's proposal again? In the end, I decided to follow the two threads that permeate the novel: walking, and letters.

The outfit here is a more practical, daytime outfit with a red Spencer and a white JSK beneath. Lace tights are a ladylike touch, but the boots are about as business as one can manage in Lolita. Add to that a practical bonnet with a simple updo beneath and you've got a practical outfit for, say, walking to your sick sister, taking a turn with your love interest's cousin, or taking a turn with said love interest to discuss his offer of marriage.

Letters are also a large part of Pride and Prejudice, so I paid homage to them here with a large envelope-shaped purse and a book necklace.

Austen Lolita - Fanny Price

I have a confession to make: I don’t actually like Fanny Price all that much. Don’t get me wrong, she’s commendable, but her character traits just don’t do it for me. However, she is a delightful departure from the rest of the Austen heroines, so I couldn’t allow myself to skip over her entirely.

Fanny’s main traits are her steadfastness, her modesty, her timidity, and her morality. She does not sparkle. In an effort to respect that, I chose a gray OP for her. The color isn’t flashy, and the length of both the sleeves and the skirt is modest. I also added a cross necklace because it plays a significant role in the plot.

The hairstyle is likewise simple and unadorned. I feel like Fanny would prefer it that way.

Austen Lolita - Emma Woodhouse

Emma Woodhouse is one of those Austen characters that you either love or you hate. I find her incredibly frustrating. She constantly thinks she knows better than everyone else because she is of higher status, but at the same time she does change and grow. However, I've recently fallen in love with the adaptation starring Romola Garai, so I had to create an outfit for her.

For Emma, I went with a more ballroom look because she is a bit fancier. A pale pink OP paired with lace shoes and expensive suede evening gloves looks like something Emma might wear to the ball. I chose pink because every adaptation of Emma seems to have a pink dress in it.

Because Emma is rich, I went with fancier headgear than the other girls - she is mistress of Highbury, after all - and this pretty pink, ivory, and gold turban is darn near perfect. Styled as it is, with curls spilling out, it stays youthful but gives a touch of richness to the outfit.

However, because she is still young, the jewelry had to be simple. A pair of pearl drop earrings and a pretty cameo let the style of the dress shine through.

Austen Lolita - Anne Eliot

Anne Eliot is an Austen character I just want to hug, and because she changes over the course of the book I wanted to create something that reflected both her age and her liveliness. The oldest Austen lady at 27, she starts the book as a woman who has lost her bloom and her one true love.

I wanted to dress her a little older than the other ladies, so her Spencer is much more buttoned up. However, I wanted to keep a touch of youth about her with the bright white JSK.

Anne's practical footwear (well, practical for Lolita) are quite pretty but still practical enough. She always has a level head, even when getting ready for a ball. The simple brown boots are reflected in simple accessories - a thoroughly non-period bakelite brooch, a simple ring, and a simple pair of earrings.

Her hairstyle is also meant to be both practical and pretty. The braids add detail without making the updo strictly fancy.

I enjoyed putting these together. I hope you've enjoyed seeing them.

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