What exactly made a young woman a good marriage prospect in the high tension world of the social season? To attract a proper mate, aristocratic young women were to be pretty innocuous and should know genteel skills like needlework, language (French was preferred), and music, as per History Extra. Few gentlemen, it seems, would be interested in anyone who was loud or had too much of a personality, at least in public. Quiet modesty was where it was at. Oh, and you should be young. Women, unfortunately, were considered to have something of an expiration date.
Actively pursuing a man was hardly in vogue, but passively putting oneself in a potential suitor’s way was acceptable. Promenades became popular, wherein people would literally wander around in fashionable spots like parks and shopping areas, decked out in the hopes of catching someone’s eye. According to the Jane Austen Centre, women with the resources for an expansive wardrobe would have multiple walking dresses appropriate to the season and to current fashion. It’s clear that, after cultivating refined skills like playing the piano and saying pretty things in French, well off young women still had to put in the effort of being seen in their best lights, and by the best eligible bachelors as often as possible.