Dresses like this always remind me of Jane Austen. That’s the idea right? 

Think of Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma:


Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice:


Frances O’Connor in Mansfield Park:


Why am I working so hard to make this point? It did not require any backup photos. You see a dress like this, on Kate Mara, and it automatically evokes a certain era. And certain words. Like “fetching”. She looks fetching in this black Jane Austen-ish dress even though, probably, back in Jane’s day, wearing it in black would not have been encouraged. 

Is it timeless? The cap sleeve to me is timeless. I’m not sure how I feel about the empire waist. It’s a belt, just moved up on your body so that instead of accentuating your waist, you’re accentuating the bust. I don’t like belts as a general rule, either for the waist or for the bust. Which is why I preferred the modified version of this dress – you keep the cap sleeves, you take it all the way up to the neck, with a collar, some buttons if that’s your flavour, and it’s the same effect overall, just without the heaving.