Austen Authors October 14, 2019: AGM 2020 and a Ball Gown

Many of you know that I live about an hour and a half from Cleveland, Ohio. You may also know that the Jane Austen Society of North America is holding its 2020 Annual General Meeting in Cleveland.

Photo Courtesy of JASNA Ohio North Coast

This means that I have the opportunity to attend an AGM. It also means I need to at least look for a gown. I’m honestly not 100% sure I’m going. My dog has severe separation anxiety and I, as we probably all know by now, dislike leaving my house. LOL One day I’m eager to go and the next I’m all, “Nah … Cleveland traffic and parking are awful, yada yada yada.” So, who knows? I do know I’m not getting a hotel room when I live close enough to drive, but that means I may miss parts of the meeting. We shall see, at any rate. I have time. LOL

So, back to gowns. I began my search by visiting Google, which led me right away to a page titled “Evening Dress, Ball Dress and Court Dress in the Napoleonic Era.” I learned on this page that ball gowns were made to make it easy to dance. They showed your feet. 🙂 This is good to know, but it also means I must buy shoes if I do this. My New Balance tennies are not going to cut it.

As with most Google searches, one of the top results was from Amazon. Turns out, you can purchase ready-made Regency gowns. Whoda thunk it? Well, I guess they’re costumes but still.

Sadly, the very first one I saw, while gorgeous, was 100% polyester. I don’t wear polyester. So, that one is out. I’ll keep looking. LOL

I have the option to make my own gown and this really appeals to me, for many reasons. I have made my own clothing before and while I’m by no means a professional, I do an adequate job. This will require a lot of time, though, and I’m not sure I have enough of that commodity.

I have seen where others have taken apart wedding dresses and made a Regency dress. I don’t have one of those, as I got married in white jeans and a purple sweater in front of a mayor. Not that it would fit, anyway. I’m about a hundred pounds heavier now. So, I’ll need to start from scratch if I sew my own.

I like how I read a Regency gown described in a PDF from a school district. “Women’s fashion during the early part of this period centered around a gown which can best be described as a simple all-in-one chemise dress or tunic gathered with strings at the neck and just under the bust line.” Well, shoot, I can do that. 😉

As I searched further, I read about corsets and petticoats.

Photo Courtesy of

I cringe at the thought of wearing a corset. I can’t handle close-fitting garments and don’t wear them. I like loose, all the way. 🙂 I was worried for a bit that I’d not be able to wear a Regency gown at all due to the corset thing. It’s going to be rough enough to have material tucked up under my bustline, much less have my entire ribcage compressed. Ugh.

When I looked further, at petticoats, I discovered that petticoats were sometimes worn attached to an under-bodice that often replaced the corset. Bingo! This is called a petticoat body and if I did it right, would feel no worse than a slip, I should think. It is usually made of a heavier material than the gown, according to There is a YouTube video about making one linked below.

Photo courtesy of

I still don’t know for sure what route I’m going to travel. I doubt I buy a ready-made gown, though. I have time to decide. Or, maybe I’ll just wear a regular dress or skirt. I like them long, so it would fit in that way.


Are any of you thinking about going to AGM next year? What are you doing for a ball gown?  

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