Jane Eyre taught me a about the ways women were trapped in Victorian society (hint: literally). Also, she taught me a lot about hair. Both lessons were important (but the hair one, more important). Below, some of the most memorable fashion lessons:
Curly Hair Is Awesome: You realize that the boarding school Jane is sent to is awful is when the scholmaster ridicules a girl name Julia Severn for wearing her hair in curls (it’s natural!) and cuts it off so it lies straight.
Religious Fanataticism Is the Enemy of Fashion: See above. It’s because it’s an Evangelical school. Though really, I think it’s just because the schoolmaster needed an excuse to be an asshole.
If You Wear A Cloak And Hat, Everyone Will Believe You’re A Gypsy: Mr. Rochester wears a red cloak and a black hat and tells fortunes upon his return after a day away from his house. Even his closest friends could not recognize him! Because he was dressed funny. God, and this was a hundred years before Superman.
You Need to Stand Up Straight And Brush Your Hair Out of Your Eyes, Young Lady: Regarding the first Mrs. Rochester “It grovelled, seemingly, on all fours and growled like some strange wild animal, but it was covered in clothing and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its face and head.” If she’s just done something pretty with her hair she wouldn’t have had to live in the attic!
It’s Not Enough Just to Be Pretty: You know who is really pretty? Jane’s romantic rival, Blanche Ingram. Does she win the heart of Mr. Rochester? No, because “she cannot charm him.” Also, probably because Mr. Rochester’s affair with the opera singer who made fun of him for being ugly and ditched him for a soldier probably turned him off beauties. Whatever. It still helps to be charming.
Know Your Style: When Mr. Rochester offers to shower Jane with jewels, she knows will look ridiculous on her she replies “never mind jewels…I am your plain, Quakerish governess.”