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 Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan 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.
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!
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’.
Brown wool; longer in front vs. back, with a hood.
Margaret’s White Dress
A sheer white cotton with a pale sprigged pattern. More fichus, more sashes!
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.
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.
Charlotte’s Lace Evening Dress
I think this is a white lace fabric laid over a solid pink.
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.
Charlotte’s Green Dress
Only briefly glimpsed.
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.
Charlotte’s Grey Robe
I’m not sure if this is technically a pelisse, but it seems more like an overrobe.
Charlotte’s Wedding Ensemble
Small, blurry pics, sorry!
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?).
What’s your favorites among Margaret, Charlotte, and Miss Grey’s wardrobes?
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). :)
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.
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!
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!
Can you write a text about how sausage curls are used in period films?
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.
For whatever it’s worth, one of my nieces has hair that is naturally like Margaret’s.
I don’t know about my favorite dresses, but I could hear every line of Imelda Staunton’s dialogue while looking at these pics.
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.
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.
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….