Top 5 Regency Gowns


I’ve long said that Regency or Empire fashions are not my favorite, even though I enjoy stories set in the period and the history of the time. I love Jane Austen movies and TV adaptions, and I’ll watch tons of 1800-1820s histories onscreen, it’s just the clothes that leave me cold. In particular, I’ve ranted about the boring little white nightgowns, and I also agree with what Kendra said in her post about Austen flicks — being a historical costumer, it’s also how I feel about wearing Regency clothing:

Madame Recamier by Jacques Louis David), 1800, Louvre Museum

What I wish I looked like in Regency clothing (Madame Recamier by Jacques Louis David), 1800, Louvre Museum.

1995 Pride and Prejudice

What I actually look like in Regency clothing (Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, 1995).

However, Bridgerton changed the game for me personally because the costume designs mostly ditched those little white dresses and went with all the colors, all the bling, and crazy embellishments! That’s more my style, plus it distracts from the “classic” “elegant” slim line in a way that I find more flattering for my curvy shape.

But looking back through my viewing habits, I realize Bridgerton isn’t the only one, it’s just that all those demure Austen adaptions have obscured some truly fabulous Empire frocks! So here are five that I’d happily wear.



Immortal Beloved (1994)

Gorgeous movie, great acting, and some stunning costumes in rich colors by Maurizio Millenotti! I want them all but especially this purple number.


Sense & Sensibility (1995)

I’m allllll about Fanny Dashwood here! Her whole wardrobe, by Jenny Beavan and John Bright, is my Regency fashion goals so picking one was hard. #RegencyBadGirls4Life!

1995 Sense and Sensibility

I have a mighty need for black tone-on-tone stripes.

1995 Sense and Sensibility 1995 Sense and Sensibility



Vanity Fair (2004)

This is the somewhat Bollywood-ized adaption by Indian director Mira Nair, which is the only one I’ve enjoyed as a result! My fave of the lux costumes by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor is, predictably, this black gown.

Vanity Fair (2004)
Vanity Fair (2004) - photo by Prop Store of London

Photo by Prop Store of London




Austenland (2013)

OK, so not really intended to be historical, but hysterically fun! I love the all-pink wardrobe of Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge) because it’s so OTT crazypants, but also because it looks good on her curvy figure. Good job by costume designer Annie Hardinge. This riding habit is my fave.


Austenland (2013)

Tally ho, bitches!

Austenland (2013)



Bridgerton (2020-)

As I said, this show made Regency fashion appealing to me (thanks, Ellen Mirojnick!), so I’m cheating on my own list and including both a daytime and evening look worn by  Lady Danbury. She’s my favorite character in the show!

Bridgerton (2020)

She doesn’t always wear purple.

Bridgerton (2020)

But when she does, she makes it look so damn good!



What Regency or Empire style movie or TV costumes would you wear?

8 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Besides Bridgerton, I loved Jenny Beavan Sense and Sensibility costumes especially the wealthy woman’s ballgown that Willoughby marries. And Margaret’s Chemise de la Reine with ribbon sash. Harriet Walter’s is also stylish. And who can forget Isabella Rossilini in Immortal Beloved?

  2. Saraquill

    I’ve mentioned this in a few of Tristan’s other posts and I’ll repeat it here. The goth style regency outfits are gorgeous and I’d like to wear some.

  3. Alissa

    About 75% of Caroline Bingley’s wardrobe in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. So much sari fabric, but so many colors!

  4. Sharon in Scotland

    Adjoa Andoh…………………..worship and adore

  5. Lily Lotus Rose

    These are all fun dresses–some are even great! Mira Nair’s version of Vanity Fair is absolutely gorgeous!! I’d like to see Fanny Dashwood’s dress in something other than black. Although if I remember correctly, those pics are when the fam’s in mourning for Mr. Dashwood and she’s salivating on the wealth her husband has inherited.

    • sonetka

      Yes, she’s being very correct and wearing black for mourning, but of course she can afford top-notch mourning clothes and it definitely shows.