Negotiating Authenticity: Exploring Design Decisions of Reenactors' Regency Gowns
There are currently about 4,500 members of the Jane Austen Society of North America within the United States and Canada. Members of Jane Austen groups frequently meet together for events such as balls and teas. During these events members are encouraged to wear “Regency” period dress (which roughly covers 1795-1820). Dress plays a major role in the activities of these groups and there is a desire among members to dress authentically. While scholarship exists regarding the authenticity, materials, and construction of extant garments from these time periods, there are few studies focusing on Regency costume as it is worn today. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to examine the “quest for authenticity” (Handler and Saxton 1988, p. 242) and subsequent design decisions of reenactors creating Regency gowns.