I love fashion. I drool over Louboutins and Manalos, even though I’m sure no woman (including me) can really walk in them. I read up on the benefits of beauty products, even when I’m not sure exactly what they do. And I love fashionable clothes even though I work at home and almost never get to wear them.
There are many differences between my life and that of the historical romance heroines I write about, but a love of fashion is something we have in common. The same way I pour over each month’s issue of In Style or Glamour, one of my heroines from a hundred years ago would be doing the same with Women’s Weekly or The Lady. The difference, of course, is that I don’t get to live the life that goes with the clothes. My heroines do. They gad about garden parties and go to balls dressed in silks and lace. They go to dressmakers and have clothes made just to suit them. In my latest book, Trouble at the Wedding, my heroine gets to buy two—not one, but two—couture wedding gowns (yeah, she has two weddings—it’s a long story). Every time I write a book or watch an episode of Downton Abbey, I envy the women in those gorgeous Edwardian outfits…at least, until I really start thinking about what wearing that sort of get-up entails.
Corsets? Ouch. Hats attached with hatpins? Ouch. Multiple layers of fabric, even in the summer? Ugh. Nipple rings…wait a second. Nipple rings? Yes, according to Juliet Nicholson’s book, The Perfect Summer, fashionable women of 1911 clamped rings to their nipples “providing a sort of ledge on which the evening gown rested precariously.” I think I’ll pass on those, too, and on face powder made with lead. As for the clothes, I’m not sure I could really love fashion if I had to change outfits four times a day and needed a maid every time I did it. A velvet morning gown for breakfast, followed by tweeds for standing behind the guns, then a tea gown, then an evening gown...it sounds exhausting. In fact, it sounds like the life of today’s fashion model, who spends her days changing her clothes and teetering around on platform Louboutins getting photographed. No, in real life, I’ll keep my yoga pants and cotton tees, and the occasional LBD by Badgley Mischka, and get my fashion vicariously through In Style. That way, the heaviest corset I’ll ever have to wear is a pair of Spanx.
What do you think? Are there any fashions then or now that you think are just ridiculous? Any trends you wish would just die already? Any clothes of the past you think are so beautiful, you wish you could wear them now, even if it means putting on a corset and changing four times a day? Share your fashion opinions and you could win the first two books in my Abandoned at the Altar series, Wedding of the Season and Scandal of the Year.