This is a lovely little book with numerous color pictures, mostly fashion plates, and decorative chapter headings. The title of the chapter is in red, there is an orange decoration, and then the first letter is enlarged and printed in blue, a very pretty effect. Further, the author, Penelope Byrde, is curator at the fabulous Bath Museum of Costume and an established expert in the field. If one is looking for a good introduction to the era's costumes, especially one that is visually pleasing as well as informative, this is a great choice. I would consider it as particularly suited as a gift to someone just learning about the era.
The discussions are tied into Jane Austen's life and works, with extensive quotations of her novels, letters, and family accounts. These are carefully annotated. The bibliiography deals with sources about Austen, rather than further costume references.
I suppose that this does offer a great deal for people who are truly knowledgeable about the subject, but for those of us who know a bit, but not a lot, it is still useful. It seems that I always learn a bit more than I knew. The pictures alone may make one want the book, even if one does have other sources, and one does have the assurance that Byrde is authoritative.
I am left with one question: is the very different silhouette shown in Niklaus von de Heideloff's plates (late 18th to very early 19th century) entirely due to changes in fashion (i.e., the narrowing of skirts, or did he just like to draw women with more abundant figures?