Monday, 17 January 2011

Retail Therapy - Jane Austen Style

At lunchtime I announced to my colleagues that I needed to pop out and buy some ribbon.  This sounded like such a ridiculously old-fashioned, feminine pastime that I found myself falling into the character of a Jane Austen heroine.  Buying ribbon, it seemed to me, was a pretty exciting event for a young woman in Georgian England.  There seemed to be precious little else that one could buy in a village shop that might come close to a treat or indulgence.  No made-to-measure clothing, no make-up (just for strumpets presumably), no 'Good Morrow' magazine.  My over-active imagination began to picture young women's bedroom cupboards stuffed with many-coloured ribbons as some sort of mania took hold, as the desire for excitement led them to purchase yet more and more ribbons - or maybe the hard stuff - rick-rack?  lace trim?

On my lunchtime excursion I also went to Boots to pick up a prescription. I imagine that your Regency heroine might also have popped into the apothecary for a preparation for Dyspepsia, but this hardly seems like cause for excitement.  Maybe she could have purchased some rose-water, probably the closest she was allowed to perfume, which I'm guessing was probably only for afore-mentioned strumpets, actresses and the French.

No wonder women used to go around having the vapours any time that anything slightly shocking happened (or was that the Victorians?).  Living life at that sort of pace is bound to take it's toll.

Is that the time?  I must fly - this bonnet won't trim itself you know!


1 comment:

  1. It just so happens that I'm reading Pride & Prejudice at the moment and have been surprised by a scene in which Lydia (the young and somewhat foolish sister who elopes with Scandalous Mr Wickham, you will no doubt remember) purchases a ready-made bonnet from a shop. I too had thought they got everything made to order in Those Days. In fact she says she doesn't like it all that much, she only bought it because she wanted to buy something... and that she is going to trim it with ribbon to make it look nicer. So there you go. Compulsive shopping and ribbons.