Cinematic Fashion: Northanger Abbey

By Caroline Elizabeth, Women’s Style Editor

The 2007 Masterpiece Theater movie “Northanger Abbey” is a must see, and not just because of the exquisite Regency era clothing. The chemistry between Catherine Morland, played by Felicity Jones, and her love interest Henry Tilney, played by JJ Feild (real spelling), is adorable as they try to navigate their relationship through social events and adventures that take place amongst beautiful scenery in the English Countryside and the city of Bath.

Since the piece is set in the early 19th century, the clothing is period accurate which means lots of empire waists, hats, gloves, lace, and updos for the ladies. The overall clothing that Catherine Morland and her female companions wear, including close friend Isabella Thorpe played by Carey Mulligan, is feminine, airy and pastel. There are a lot of light, cool tones seen on Catherine, perhaps to sharply contrast her dark hair, and warmer light tones on Isabelle, which work well with her blonde locks.

Being ladylike was a priority back in the Regency era, and while Catherine Morland is always put together there is often an air of ease to her style whether it is slightly undone hair or dresses and accessories on the simpler side. Catherine honestly cares more about reading her fantastic adventure novels and dreaming about one coming true rather than her appearance, but I admire the way she manages to stay true to herself even among the period’s strict confines.

To achieve Catherine’s romantic and breezy style, start with a dress inspired by the Regency period, one with an extra high or empire waist. Lace and puffed sleeves are always an added bonus when dress shopping, but as long as the dress is beautiful and comfortable, Catherine will approve! Chose a sweater or jacket that has elements of the time period’s clothing style- think cropped, lacy, or with puff sleeves. Keep the rest of your accessories simple but feminine. Add a pair of pastel shoes, a bag of your choice, and then perhaps a single piece of jewelry like a locket or key necklace. You might like to add a straw hat for the season comparable to Regency era bonnets as well.

Northanger Abbey