As well as reading Ackermann’s Repository of Arts for its fashion plates and styles, Jane also read the popular La Belle Assemblée. It was launched in February 1806 by John Bell (1745-1831) and was one of the most important women’s magazines of its time.
La Belle Assemblée was published monthly but it was expected that ladies would save their copies and have them bound at the end of each volume, which covered six months. A title page and index were given in the final number of each volume for this purpose.
As well as information about fashions for the coming month, detailed descriptions of the dresses worn by the social elite at important events, such as the King’s birthday celebrations were also included. Inserts could include a needlework pattern or an original piece of sheet music.
It also included short stories, novels, poetry and music, and ended with a section of advertisements, which included a list of the latest novels.
Jane was most interested in the fashion plates. The first of which date to February 1806 and were black and white and cost 2s 6d. Ladies would ink in their own pages themselves.
Then in November 1806, another more expensive edition was available with hand-painted ink that cost at 3s 6d. The periodicals would also be on display in the more expensive department stores.
The pelisse coat shown in this plate dates to January 1817 and was very fashionable at the time. You can see the similarities in the style of Jane’s oak patterned pelisse coat and the one shown here.
Some of the pages were purely dedicated to accessories including hats, gloves, fans, and shawls a lady should wear to keep up with the latest styles. Jane and Cassandra would often buy ribbons or feathers to update their existing outfits copied from the pages.
It showed the latest fashions and accessories including hats, gloves, fans, and shawls a lady should wear to keep up with the latest styles. Jane and Cassandra would often buy ribbons or feathers to update their existing outfits copied from the pages, and Jane often talked about shopping for these items in her letters.
Jane’s family also purchased La Belle Assemblée, as this wonderful photograph shows from 1814. A fragile Volume that belonged to Jane’s fondest niece, Fanny Austen Knight.
Click here to read the Volumes of La Belle Assemblée.