TBT: Sense & Sensibility (1995): The Rest of the Women

11

The 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen‘s Sense and Sensibility is, for me, one of the ultimate frock flicks. It’s one of a spate of films from the 1990s that made a strong attempt to achieve period accuracy. Its screenplay was thoughtfully adapted by Emma Thompson, and it was directed with care by Ang Lee. The performances — by Thompson, Kate WinsletHugh GrantAlan Rickman, and more — are strong and pretty much everyone is well cast. I’ve put off doing a real, thorough review of this film because while it’s not the flashiest, it’s so pivotal to me. So I’ve finally decided to break things up, looking at each main character individually, as well as some of the supporting characters in groups. According to Thompson’s script, the filmmakers have chosen the round year of 1800 in which to set the film – at least, the opening scene is March 1800.

In previous posts, I reviewed Elinor’s wardrobe and went over the basics of English women’s dress around 1800; Marianne, and got into how her wardrobe reflects some specific styles of the 1790s; the older ladies, Mrs. Dashwood and Mrs. Jennings; and then the bad girls, Fanny and Lucy.

Today we’re finishing the women by reviewing three supporting female characters: Margaret Dashwood, Charlotte Palmer, and Miss Grey.

Margaret Dashwood’s Wardrobe

Margaret (Emilie François) is Elinor and Marianne’s younger sister. The actress was 12-13ish when playing the role, and Margaret is 13 in the book.

Margaret’s Lavender Dress #1

The gown looks like lavender cotton printed in dotted stripes, and it’s a really great fabric. She wears it with a cross-over fichu and various sashes and center front bows.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

I like that you can tell that that fichu was hand-hemmed. Here the sash and bow are black (for mourning?).

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

I have questions about her hair — it just looks like a grown-out perm to me! Lavender sash, black bow.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret
1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

The print is really interesting! The bow is gingham.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Lavender sash and bow.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Margaret’s Lavender Dress #2

At first I wasn’t sure if this was the same dress as above, but it’s definitely different: lavender fabric with dots but no stripes, this one has a simpler cut and three-quarter length sleeves (while lavender #1 has full length sleeves). Again, fichus, bows, and sashes!

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

She wears this structured sash with the ensemble above. I love the way the back is done with the buckle.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Here you can see how simple the cut is.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret 1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Margaret’s Green Dress

This seems to be her “fancy” dress, as she wears it to dinner at Norland Park, lunch at the Jennings’, and then the evening party at the Jennings’.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

The fabric has a subtle stripe. This fichu has lace, and she’s got a white sash.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Dark green or black sash?

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

The coloring is off in this behind-the-scenes pic, but I’m pretty sure this is the green dress.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Margaret’s Cape

Brown wool; longer in front vs. back, with a hood.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

The gingham bonnet is great.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Underneath she’s wearing the more complicated lavender dress (#1).

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Margaret’s White Dress

A sheer white cotton with a pale sprigged pattern. More fichus, more sashes!

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Green sash, gingham bonnet.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret
1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

This is a great print for the period.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Margaret’s Wedding Ensemble

This is the best I could find! I have no idea on the dress, but she’s got what looks like a brown silk bonnet.

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Margaret

Charlotte Palmer’s Wardrobe

Charlotte (Imelda Staunton) is Mrs. Jennings’ grown up and married daughter. She’s well off, and super silly, so her wardrobe is very fussy.

Charlotte’s Cream Robe #1

This dress is super interesting! It’s a dotted cream fabric, with a cutaway front revealing a little waistcoat effect, and the gown body appears to be cut in one. This COULD be the same dress as Cream Robe #2 below.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

See how the bodice opens from the center front neckline? Also note she’s got a fussy bonnet, and a gathered tucker or undredress filling in the bustline.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

Charlotte’s Lace Evening Dress

I think this is a white lace fabric laid over a solid pink.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

See how you can see through the lace on the far left sleeve pouf? She’s got a lot of fussy lace on the neckline and center front.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

Also, hair bows that match her elbow bows!

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

Charlotte’s Mauve Evening Dress

Changeable taffeta; mauve was the best term I could come up with for the color, it’s a dusty purpley pinky something.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

Charlotte’s Green Dress

Only briefly glimpsed.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

Charlotte’s Cream Robe #2?

Is this the same dress as Cream Robe #1? I can’t tell. It’s got the spots, but you never clearly see the front so I’m not sure.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

Peering at this still, through the fichu, I’m not seeing the same cutaway line (this has one, but it’s a different angle), and the “waistcoat” looks like it has two points rather than one.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

With a fancy bonnet for traveling.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

And an indoor cap for baby time. Note the buttons on the back seams at the waist.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte 1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

 

Charlotte’s Grey Robe

I’m not sure if this is technically a pelisse, but it seems more like an overrobe.

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

It looks like it has elbow-length sleeves, and a frogged closure in front.

Charlotte’s Wedding Ensemble

Small, blurry pics, sorry!

1995 Sense and Sensibility- Charlotte

That hat fabric looks super interesting! The gown looks brown?

Miss Grey’s Wardrobe

Miss Grey’s Silver Evening Dress

Miss Grey (Lone Madsen) has only got the one dress, but then that’s all she needs (along with her 10,000 pounds, amirite?).

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Miss Grey

SO sparkly, so elegant!

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Miss Grey

Head necklace in flight, afternoon delight!

1995 Sense and Sensibility - Miss Grey

What’s your favorites among Margaret, Charlotte, and Miss Grey’s wardrobes?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

11 Responses

  1. Boxermom

    Hats, FTW! I love all the hats in this movie. Alas, I don’t have a “hat head” as my mom would say (too pointy). :)

    Reply
  2. Colleen

    With regard to Margaret’s black sash, it’s reported on IMDb that it’s a microphone pack. Although it also appears in the scene where she is playing swords with Edward, so I don’t think it is. I do find it strange that it buckles in the back.

    Reply
  3. Barbara Shaurette

    Oh, y’all, my heart is melting. I love to hit IMDB and play the “where are they now?” game. The actress who played Margaret grew up and became an academic, journalist and documentary maker – she’s now Dr. Myriam François – and I am so proud of her work!

    Reply
    • The Scrivener

      I feel like that’s exactly what Margaret Dashwood would have become if she lived in the 21st century. She had such a small part, but such vitality!

      Reply
  4. Natasha Rubin

    It occurred to me that Margaret has basically exactly the same hairstyle that Kirsten Dunst did as Claudia in Interview with the Vampire (which same out a year earlier). Looked it up on IMDB and sure enough, both movies had the same chief hair stylist, Jan Archibald. I guess that’s just what she pictures little girl hair of the period looking like! I’d be curious now to see if she re-used the style (or something similar) in any other movies.

    Reply
    • Katie

      For whatever it’s worth, one of my nieces has hair that is naturally like Margaret’s.

      Reply
  5. Mrs. D

    I don’t know about my favorite dresses, but I could hear every line of Imelda Staunton’s dialogue while looking at these pics.

    Reply
  6. gelasticjew

    I think the two cream robes are different – the sleeves are different. The first one has elbow-length sleeves worn with knit gloves or armwarmers, it looks like to me.

    Reply
  7. Kristina

    Again, one of the biggest issues is that there isn’t enough white. In the 1790s and early 1800s, there were a lot of white dresses worn, usually with the accessories providing the bright colors. I’ll give a pass to Margaret, who is a child (although, technically, she should be in mourning for her father, and she isn’t), but the others (except for Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, and Marianne, who should actually start off in black, for mourning) need to be wearing a lot more white.

    Reply
  8. Maggie May

    Charlotte’s outfits appear to show off her bosom. Well, a bit of ladylike flaunting may have helped secure her a husband.

    Courting couples were allowed little time alone together. To preserve propriety, of course. But, perhaps, to prevent an eligible gentleman from realizing the blushing maiden was a silly goose.

    Hugh Laurie, Charlotte’s long suffering husband, comes to mind.

    And Mr and Mrs Bennett from P&P….

    Reply

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