I'm No Jane Austen: How to Dress For The Evening While Staying at a Country House

The Jane Austen Handbook

Step 1: Get An Invitation To A Country House Party

Even if you live in a grand estate, everyone likes to get away from time to time for a change of scenery. A house party can be the very thing: There will be new scenes and new people; you will have company, so you will not be bored; and as it is not your house, you have no business to take care of. And if your pockets are all to let, a stay of a few weeks will give you a the opportunity to catch up on your debts. Here are some tips for securing yourself an invitation.

Now, because I've already shared with you that I was at a country house, only two weekends ago, we all know that I nailed this one. However, I think it's important to go over the steps. You know, for the purpose of information sharing because that's just a nice thing to do. And I'm nothing, if not nice (sometimes). 

1. Cultivate relationships with people who have big houses. 
Mostly because they're going to want company, at some point. This one seems...well...obvious. I mean, if there is no country house, then what are they inviting you to? Luckily for me, I happen to have a very good friend who has access to a big house. 

Points Earned: 1

2. Offer to keep house for a bachelor relative.
As in, a single guy in your family wants to have single ladies over to his country house but needs a married woman there to greet them. The Manual suggests that if you can offer your services in this way (being the greeter lady), then you should be able to secure an invitation. And if you do end up going, and find him a wife among the invited single ladies, then he'll be so psyched that he'll invite you back, later. That said, my pal isn't a bachelor or a relative, so this one isn't applicable. But since I'm married (and awesome), I'm taking it. 

Points Earned: 1

3. Make yourself invaluable.
That means you should help the country house owner with whatever they need: advice, childcare, entertainment--whatever. So when said Big House Pal mentioned that she could use some practice doing up-dos, I offered my head and camera so we could take pictures of whatever she came up with. Naturally, this simple plan morphed into a seriously awesome and elaborate afternoon but the point is, I was helpful. Invaluable even (because I'm the only one in our crew with a fancy camera).

Points Earned: 1

4. Play the pity card.
Let's be honest--I have a pretty good one of these. The silver lining of being a sicky face means that I carry an ace up my sleeve. But it's not one that I use. Ever, really. But, regardless of using the pity card or not, I think that ownership of such a card is enough for half a point. 

Points Earned: 1/2

5. Ask!
I love this one--it's so straightforward! Alas, I did not directly ask my Big House Pal for an invitation, so I don't get this point. Boo.

Points Earned: 0

6. Just be good company.
Do I really need to elaborate on this one? *smirks* 

Points Earned: 1

So that puts my score at 4.5/6, which is a whopping 75 percent!!

WOHOO!!! Look who's in the B range now, baby!!

So if you've managed to secure an invite to a country house, this is an example of what you can expect:

 Many bedrooms, many bathrooms, huge fireplaces, expansive lawns, airs of olden times, and a killer view. 

Said killer view (just so you can see that I'm not pulling your leg).



(Sorry about all of the all-caps. I'm super psyched.)

Remember number 3 up there? About being invaluable? And I said that I offered to take some pics for my Big House Pal? Well, that idea went from cool to super-freaking-awesome when we decided that not only would we take some hair pictures, but we'd also bring our fancy dresses and pretty accessories to take some Kardashian Family-Esque Portraits. Because there isn't much of an opportunity to wear ball gowns in every day life (which is a travesty, obviously).

How To Dress For The Evening 

The Manual has a considerable section on how to dress, including a portion on evening dress. And the best part--the most AMAZING part--is that none of us read the description before we got there! Which means that, somehow, we naturally acted like ladies in Regency England. Yeah, I know. Nobody's more surprised than I am.

For dinner and afterwards, change into something truly elegant and perhaps even a little daring. Evening is the time for our flimsiest muslins, prettiest trimmings, and whatever family jewelry you can wheedle out of your mother. Low-cut bodices are perfectly acceptable, and a pretty headdress or some beads or flowers wove into your hair will add just the right tough. Younger ladies should stick with muslin gowns, while married or older ladies can wear gowns made of light silk. And remember--a woman can never look too fine when she is all in white

I'll just let the following pictures speak for themselves:

Holy crap, my friends are gorgeous. If this isn't evidence why people should get dressed up for no reason, then I don't know what is.

Points Awarded: 1

So for those who are keeping track (mostly me), that's a 100% score!!

A+ baby!!

And if you combine the 100% score with the previous 75%, that gives me an overall tally of 88%, which is almost THIRTY PERCENT higher than my previous Austen comparisons.

(Oh man, it doesn't matter how hard I try and fight it. I'm totally an overachiever...)

*high fives (with gloved hands, obviously)*


  1. Hilarious! Those pictures are GREAT! And might I add; holy cleavage!

  2. Look at those boobies!! Whoa Mama!


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