Don’t miss Jane Austen Etiquette: Part I: The Rules of Mingling
Ah, Jane Austen’s world — a simpler time, less stress, no climbing the corporate ladder, more time for the relaxing pleasures of life. Think again.
Jane’s life crossed over the Georgian and Regency eras, both times of rules, regulations and the all-important social ladder — which dictated that if you were born with the wrong accent, make a social misstep or marry the “wrong” person you could be left clinging to the bottom rung forever.
And coming into the world at the top was no guarantee of a charmed life, either. A social misstep could send you plummeting down one golden rung at a time, landing you in a heap of crinoline and titled pedigrees.
Although not as formal, straight-laced or corseted as Victorian England, both Georgian and Regency England still had strict, complicated rules for the proper mode of behavior. So, in case you ever find yourself among the gilded tearooms of 18th century England, here’s your etiquette survival guide to avoid those embarrassing faux pas.
Jane Austen frequently made fun of the social niceties of her time in her letters and her books. We’ve selected a few of her most pointed barbs.
Keeping Up Appearances
If property is not to be gained, ownership of at least a carriage will help to garner respect from your neighbors.
Dress in the latest fashion (Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra)
Frocks are buttoned down the back and should be made of light thin muslin, nearly transparent, with minimal stays and long, flowing sleeves. Recently, a daring practice has come across the channel from France. Women without thought of modesty sometimes damp down their frocks to create a more “natural look”.