How to Dress Like A Governess (ie- Jane Eyre)

Hello and Welcome to my first ever fashion-inspired post!

I’ve been really interested in fashion for awhile now, and I have been rather obsessively delving into fashion blogs, video blogs and Instagram accounts recently! I’m in no rush to convert this blog to a fashion or lifestyle blog or anything like that, but I have started to consider how literature, or more specifically how a reader’s favourite character, influences an individual’s personal style and physical appearance. The idea was brought to my attention when I had a conversation with one of my best friends about how I have been tempted in the last few weeks to cut my hair – my friend immediately told me that this was a terrible plan and that I would regret it, especially because my long, dark, wavy hair makes me look more Victorian. Obviously I am obsessed with the Victorian era (you all know that well enough by now), so my friend’s comment quickly put an end to my musings about short, flirty hair. I would like to look Victorian as much as possible, so I have chosen to have longer hair.

But why do I, like my best friend, believe that long hair is a Victorian style? Certainly we have both seen images of Victorian women on the internet – but we have also read a ridiculous number of Victorian novels and seen their film adaptations, and Victorian women are almost always represented to us as having long hair. So it is our interaction with literature, and with various portrayals of literary texts, that encourages us to dress in a particular way and emulate a specific style.

When I realized just how much my style is influenced by the novels I read and the characters I hope to model myself after, I began to consider what it would mean to truly dress like a modern version of one of my favourite literary heroines. I chose Jane Eyre, naturally, not only because she is my favourite female character in all of literary history (or at least, one of the female characters I am most passionate about), but also because I remembered a day last year when I had to present a research paper during my Master’s. I recall choosing an outfit for class that day and wanting to look as professional as possible for my presentation. I scoured my wardrobe and eventually chose a preppy outfit, all the while thinking that Jane Eyre would probably wear a navy blue cardigan, a white blouse and broad-rimmed glasses if she had an important interview or meeting too (say with a dashing man named Mr. Rochester, for example)!

I first dressed like Jane Eyre for a presentation during my Master’s degree…I assumed that she too would sport a professional side braid and crisp white blouse for such an occasion!

I first dressed like Jane Eyre for a presentation during my Master’s degree…I assumed that she too would sport a professional side braid and crisp white blouse for such an occasion!

This year, I continued to occasionally dress like Jane Eyre, most often when I was teaching French and English at a local tutoring centre by my home. I felt most like “The Governess” in these moments, and it felt fun and fitting to dress in a way that I suspected Miss Eyre would approve of. My desire to emulate Jane Eyre wasn’t constant or consistent, however; I dressed like her when I remembered to, but otherwise, I chose what I felt like wearing and if I happened to look like a governess, then so much the better!

That is, until my best friend’s comment about my long hair, when I began to think more actively about making myself (visually, at least) into a modern Victorian governess. I recently received the most beautiful dress from my mother for my birthday, and I immediately recognized that it was in fact one of the most Victorian-inspired items I had in my wardrobe. I began wearing it more frequently…and I got my fair share of compliments on it too!

My mother bought me this heavily Victorian-inspired dress for my birthday – and by the compliments I’ve been getting, it seems like people appreciate the style of the Victorian era more than they may let on!

My mother bought me this heavily Victorian-inspired dress for my birthday – and by the compliments I’ve been getting, it seems like people appreciate the style of the Victorian era more than they may let on!

I can’t wear the same dress everyday unfortunately (although Jane Eyre usually does!), so most recently I’ve tried to construct outfits that reflect a more modern take on a governess’ style of dress. This brings me to the reason for this blog post: I wore an outfit to work today that made me truly feel like Jane Eyre, and I was more comfortable and confident in the outfit than I’ve been in awhile. Maybe there is a part of Jane Eyre inside me that’s just been dying to get out and be seen – I wouldn’t be all that surprised, considering that I’ve read and analyzed her story about a dozen times and so it’s quite possible that I’ve internalized her character more than I had originally thought. In any case, I thought that I should share my new foray into literary dress with all of you! Who knows, I may dress like another literary character sometime soon…and you’ll be the first to know!

My favourite Jane Eyrian look of recent days!

My favourite Jane Eyre-esque look of recent days!

Also, as a final note, when in doubt and if you particularly want to look like a Victorian heroine…just take a photo of yourself in profile! It should do the trick!

more Victorian sensibilities

Much love from the Jane Eyre Doppelganger,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

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3 thoughts on “How to Dress Like A Governess (ie- Jane Eyre)

  1. Pingback: How to Dress Like a Victorian Literary Hero…in honour of Queen Victoria | The World of my Green Heart

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