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The Jane Austen festival, put on the Jane Austen Society of North America-Greater Louisville Chapter is just days away! The girls and I are super-excited to attend this year-and we decided to step up our game in terms of our Regency wear.

Last year, we were amateur festival goers. We had no idea what to expect. Three dresses from Goodwill and a few well-placed ribbons had to suffice.

Girls and I at the Jane Austen festival, 2012

Girls and I at the Jane Austen festival, 2012

Not this year! We are planning to be part of an attempt to set the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people in Regency attire in one place. So we need to look the part. I learned so much about period costuming during last year’s fashion show… what a feast for the eyes!

Look at this gorgeous hat, parasol, and dress. I learned a lot about mixing colors and fabric.s

Look at this gorgeous hat, parasol, and dress. I learned a lot about mixing colors and fabrics.

This year, I had planned to make our dresses, going so far as to buy a pattern. But you know how it goes when you’re working full-time and taking care of kids and blogging and before I knew it, it was June and I was in a panic. Thank goodness we live in the internet age.

After an extensive search, I found two Regency dresses, one in white and one in light purple, on Ebay sewn by a woman in California for $20 a piece-a steal! They were both the same size and came with a waist ribbon-and are very plain-all the better to customize!

The dresses were well made, if not plain but that gives us lots of room to customize and change them.

The dresses were well made, if not plain but that gives us lots of room to customize and change them.

We decided my 13 year old would wear the white dress with the green waist ribbon. We didn’t want to add any trimmings to it. Instead, we decided that she would carry a reticule and a “shawl”, which I made this past weekend out this material-it was the most “Indian” looking fabric I could find at my local store.

This is the material I used to make Lily's draped shawl.

This is the material I used to make Lily’s draped shawl.

Regency lovers will know that British trade with India was feverish during this time period-many women actually had their dresses made from sari’s.

My 9 and a half year old is wearing the purple dress. I put in a hem and added ribbon bows to the sleeves and around the bodice.

It's not terribly fancy but I think the bows are girlish and cute.

It’s not terribly fancy but I think the bows are girlish and cute.

I found bonnets for both girls on Etsy for $22 a piece. They are really pretty and perfect to match the dresses. And Lily’s came with a reticule-bingo! Both my girls love their outfits-so much so that, earlier this week, they decided to do some chores dressed in their full outfits-bonnets included-and then they treated themselves to tea and cookies.

The girl's poke bonnets

The girl’s poke bonnets

As for me, I’ll be wearing the same dress as last year. I hope to have time to attach new bows attached to the bodice and sleeves and to make a fichu from from this gorgeous material.

A fichu is a large, square kerchief worn by women in the 18th century to fill in the low neckline of a bodice.

A fichu is a large, square kerchief worn by women in the 18th century to fill in the low neckline of a bodice.

I also made myself a bonnet. I ordered a straw hat off Amazon for $13-it came with a circle cutout at the back of the neck and a chiffon scarf tied around the brim. All I did was untie the chiffon and reposition it under my chin, and the whole hat folds into a bonnet. I added a few flowers to the brim for color.

The back view of my self-made bonnet.

The back view of my self-made bonnet.

The biggest problem I face now is shoes. The girls both have cotton broadcloth flats that will pass. I could wear the same shoes I wore last year, but they are heels and they hurt my feet after awhile. Think anyone would notice if I wore flip flops??

I hope this passes for better Regency wear! I am certain we’ll gain new insights during this year’s fashion show and during our time wandering around with the other Regency lovers. If you’re going on Saturday, look for us and be sure to say hello, since you know now what we’ll be wearing!

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