Have you ever wondered why people dress up in Regency style or are you always explaining to people why you like it so much?
I never wondered why people dress up in Regency because to me it just comes naturally. Not the costume – that is quite hard – but the feeling behind it. I never had to decide whether I was going to do it or not. First chance I got I found myself inside a beautiful white dress given to me by a friend who was learning how to sew Regency costumes. By sheer miracle it was just my size. That still baffles me. I do not have a “standard” figure (isn’t that a clever way to say you’re fat?) but it fit like it was made for me. Most girls experience “what I call” the Cinderella moment when they get married but I never had a church wedding so that was it for me.
But that is just the beginning of the experience. Once I arrived at my first JASNA meeting dressed in a Regency inspired outfit I could see a twinkle in people’s eyes as if a little bit of Jane was closer to them. My outfit was far from perfect. It never is – that’s why I call it Regency inspired outfits. However, nobody cared. It was enough to evoke the era. It was enough to make the celebration of her birthday a little bit more special. That inspired me to try it another time and another. Every time I put the outfit on something special happens. Not only around but inside of me. You develop an intimacy with all of Jane’s characters and situations, an intimacy with her and her world not possible otherwise. It is like sharing a secret with History and with Jane herself. Not to mention the instant intimacy with people you never met because not only you share the same passion but that you have no shame in displaying it.
I have never been to a great gathering like the AGM (Annual General Meeting) all of North American Janeites or the amazing Jane Austen Festival in Bath due to monetary commitments – like housing and nourishment – minor details. But I plan to do so next year. I believe that all those feelings described above will increase exponentially. Not to mention I might meet someone that follows my page. That would be so much fun. Capital! Capital! After all, Bath becomes the United Nations of Jane! We will share mutual understanding and there will be peace on a piece of Earth for a week where people of goodwill will drink tea and share their stories and favorite things about Jane.
Have you been? Did you dress up? How did you feel? Are you doing it again? Share your story with me. It would be great to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Rita L. Watts, JAA