The French Revolution marked a radical shift (= cambiamento) from the elegant, wide-skirted brocade gowns (= vestito ampio di broccato): the gowns became simpler, narrower, and more vertical. It was a very radical change which can be compared only to the change in period of the jazz age over a century later.
Jane Austen in her books wrote about women’s fashion . They wore the empire dresses: high waists (= vita alta), short sleeves (= maniche corte) and décolletté necklines (= collo scoperto).
In the Hampshire Museum Service it is possible to see some of her clothing.
Her pelisse (= giacca da ussaro, sia da uomo sia da donna), for example: it was made of silk (= seta) , with a gold motif (= disegno dorato) set on a chestnut brown background (= sfondo marrone – nocciola)
There are also some letters Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra which show her fashion preferences.
When the fashion of long sleeves for the evening dresses was introduced Jane Austen wrote : “I wear my gauze(= di velo, garzina) gown today long sleeves & all; I shall see how they succeed, but as yet I have no reason to suppose long sleeves are allowable (= accettabili). Mrs. Tilson has long sleeves too, & she assured me that they are worn in the evening by many. I was glad to hear this.” – Jane Austen, 1814
Other letters show her preferences in clothing
10 January 1796: …’You say nothing of the silk stockings (= calze di seta); I flatter myself (= mi consolo), therefore, that Charles has not purchased (= comprate) any, as I cannot very well afford (= non posso permettermi) to pay for them; all my money is spent in buying white gloves (= guanti) and pink persian.’ ( = seta sottile)
Besides, in some letters , she describes their use of dying clothes to change colours.
7-9 October 1808: ….’My Mother is preparing mourning for Mrs E. K. – she has picked (= preso) her old silk pelisse to peices, & means to have it dyed black for a gown – a very interesting scheme, …… how is your blue gown? – Mine is all to pieces (= pezzi) . I think there must have been something wrong (= qualcosa che non andava) in the dye, for in places (= parti) it divided with a touch.(= ha strappi larghi un ditto) – There was four shillings thrown away; …’