At the turn of the century (and by that, I mean 18th century turning into the 19th century; this was called the Regency era), dresses were really simple. Waist lines were high, and continued to rise. I believe the highest ever was right around the 1810's. All the fashionable ladies wore pale colors, with thin fabrics that were sort of clingy. If you look at different paintings, you will see what I mean. The ladies in the picture below have scandalously high skirts (oh, they are showing their ankles!), but that was a fashion for evening dresses.
Here is the back of one of my favorites; the cherry embroidery is so beautiful. The cut is really....graceful. The beginning of the Regency era, the skirts were cut rather slim, but towards the end they started adding more fullness in the back, which I love.
Most BBC dramas have done a great job sticking with this, but compare the costumes in the BBC Pride and Prejudice with the costumes in the Keira Knightley version; the movie did not do a very thorough job. I'll explain in a little bit.
The costumes on this show were so amazingly accurate!
And now we have the other one....
And this dress....I don't where where it came from. In all the pictures, she looks like she isn't wearing the proper undergarments. See how the waistline goes down to her natural waist? Not cool. The other thing that bothered me about this movie was they portrayed Elizabeth like she didn't care what she looked like, but back then they would have been raised to care a great deal.