Every woman has, at some point, owned her favorite dress. The perfect cut for her body shape, the perfect color for her skin and hair tone, one that makes her feel beautiful and confident in a way that ordinary clothes do not.
For Annabel in The Duke Wins a Bride
, that dress is an unusual garment in saffron and ivory, both colors that were in fashion during the Regency period. The first time she wears it, Philip and she suffer their first argument, so she is determined to change the fate of her treasured gown and is wearing it for the second time when she overhears her duke defending her to the Baron of Filminster.
Thus, she changes the associations to that of a valued memory; one she can recall every time she gazes at the colors and textures of it hanging in her closet.
It is an insignificant thing in the grand scope of the world and its troubles, but Jane explains it best when she addresses the intangible value of such an outfit.
"Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim." — Jane Austen
My humble interpretation is: dresses make us happy, and don't overthink it or you will ruin it!
I had no specific vision for the dress until I selected the image of Annabel in the favored dress for the book cover, and I felt compelled to write the exotic creation into the story.
Once I realized it had acquired a negative implication for our heroine, I knew the dress would need to make a second appearance in the story.
Comparing Annabel's gown to fashion plates of the era, and recreations from our era, the dress depicted below would most likely be a court dress based on the quality and style.
I took the liberty of having her wear it because this main character is an unpolished country lass when we meet her. I propose that when she received her trousseau from the London modiste; she did not know any better than to admire it and then wear it as an evening dress. At least, that is my justification and I am sticking to it!