This month marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. With that in mind, I thought I’d tell you a bit about mourning customs of that time, specifically in terms of fashion. The prints shown are from my own collection.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, when a family member died, it was important to honor that person with a public display of mourning. Black clothing was a public show of respect. We do that today by wearing black or dark clothing to funerals, though even that is no longer considered important. But the Georgians, and especially the Victorians, wore mourning clothes for much longer than one day. Sometimes, for widows in particular, mourning clothes may have been worn for a year or more. Queen Victoria wore black mourning dresses for 40 years after the death of her husband, Prince Albert.