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Packing for England

How to pack for a month in a carry-on suitcase – and include a Regency wardrobe!

We've all heard a lot about how to pack for a long trip in a carry-on suitcase, but what if we also want to pack a Regency wardrobe for all of the dances and promenades at the Jane Austen Festival or for a visit to 'Pemberley' at Lyme Park?


     Getting those bonnets in there can be tricky, but we'll give you some tips for packing some Regency gowns and accessories along with enough clothes for four weeks in England!


     First we'll help you figure out what you need for your regular wardrobe – some questions to ask, some ideas choosing practical and fun things to wear, and a suggested packing list.


     Then we'll focus on the Regency wardrobe, and the sort of things you'll need to – and actually can – pack!


     Then we'll give you some ideas on how you can get it all into a suitcase ...

Packing a regular wardrobe

The first key is in making your packing list. There are a number of factors that will really help you decide what you’ll need. Ask yourself questions such as:


What will I be doing?

  • Visiting the country?

  • Cities?

  • Will I need to dress up?

  • Will I be doing lots of walking?


What will the weather be like?

  • Will I need clothes for cold weather?

  • For sunny weather?

  • Will high winds be a factor?

  • Will there be much rain?


And remember, practicality is key; pack things that you know you will really wear and need.


Bring clothes that can be interchangeable with each other. This doesn't mean they all have to be boring neutral colors. If you choose a palette with one or two neutral colors, then you can add 2, 3 or 4 more exciting colors to create a fun and practical wardrobe!


  • Navy, grey, brown, tan and black are neutral colors that are easy to find

  • An accent color such as red, orange, pink, green, etc. can brighten any outfit


Accessories add lots of variety without adding much room. Practical accessories such as scarves, gloves and hats can be used to add color and excitement. Of course jewelry is a compact way to add all sorts of variety to any ensemble!

































For a late spring or early autumn trip, here is a suggested packing list

to create a wardrobe like the one in the photos above:


  • 1 rain coat

  • 1 long sleeve cardigan, one 3/4 sleeve cardigan

  • 3 white tops (one v-neck, one round neck, one blouse)

  • 1 pair of jeans

  • 2 skirts

  • 1 dress

  • 1 pair of leggings

  • 2 pairs of tights

  • 2 pairs of socks

  • a nightgown or chemise to sleep in

  • A pair of casual ankle boots

  • A pair of nicer ankle boots

  • A pair of flats

  • 1 scarf

  • Gloves

  • Purse

  • Belt

This arrangement leaves some room for souveniers, including any clothes you might pick up while you're shopping on your trip. It's fun to find a few things in charity shops (a.k.a. thrift stores) to bring home!

The Regency Wardrobe

Regency Wardrobe

In choosing your Regency wardrobe, ask yourself some of the same questions (and a few different ones) that you did for your regular wardrobe:


  • Will I be out of doors?

  • Will I be going on a picnic?

  • Will I be dancing?

  • Will I be walking around Bath?

  • Will it be cold?


Here is a Regency wardrobe that you can pack for a trip that includes the Peak District, the Jane Austen Festival in Bath and Jane Austen's House in Chawton:

  • 3 day gowns (some can be used for evening events), one with 3/4 sleeves

  • 1 evening gown

  • 3 ribbons to tie at the waist

  • 3 bonnets

  • 3 ribbon colors to use on the bonnets

  • Hat pin

  • 1 spencer jacket

  • 1 shawl

  • 2 pairs of shoes: walking shoes and flats for dancing (flats that can be worn with non-Regency clothing, if possible)

  • Long gloves for dancing

  • Chemise and stays

  • 2 pairs of stockings

  • Jewelry

  • Hand fan

How do I get it all in there?

Packing a suitcase

 It really is possible! With a bit of rolling and stuffing, you can live out of a 18x16x9-inch rolling suitcase and a backpack for four weeks in England.


For your suitcase:


#1: Leave out (and, if possible, wear) your bulkiest objects of clothing, e.g. coat, scarf, boots, thick socks, etc.


#2: Stuff the shoes you pack with socks, tights, etc.


#3: Fold your Regency gowns in half, then roll them up as tightly as you can. You can fit at least four in a row that way because they form straight edges.


#4: Put your shoes on the outer edges. You can maximize space this way when shoes have flat soles because they can go right up against the edges.


#5: Fill the crown of your bonnet with clothes, socks, etc. This will both maximize space and keep your bonnet from getting bent.



(Click on each image to enlarge it.)


The Regency Part

The Regency Part

All of the gowns, the spencer and the shawls are rolled up, with the shoes on the sides.

The Regular Wardrobe

The Regular Wardrobe

With the Regency bonnet packed tightly in its midst.

Regency side ready to go!

Regency side ready to go!

Underneath the bonnet...

Underneath the bonnet...

Stuffed shoes along every edge.

For your backpack:


#1: Again, stuff your bonnet! You'll save room and keep the bonnet from getting crushed. The two bonnets in this backpack are filled with the Regency ribbons and accessories and a toiletries bag.


#2: Put your liquids on the top so that they're easy to find when you go through security.


#3: Use a platypus water bottle. They collapse flat when they're empty!


#4: Put as much entertainment as possible on your electronic devices (audiobooks, movies, music, etc.) – this leaves more room for souvenirs on the way home!

     We hope this article has given you some helpful ideas and inspired you to bring some Regency clothes with you so you can recreate your favorite Jane Austen scenes on your next trip!

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