In Persuasion, Jane lists female occupations as the "common subjects of housekeeping, neighbours, dress, dancing and music".
As men's clothes, female wear became simpler as the time passed, with soft cotton fabrics, especially white muslin and lawn, being made into less voluminous garments. The hair too changed and was no longer built up into a pyramid, but allowed to fall in loose curls and only powdered for formal occasions. This is the style that enables Willoughby to cut off a long lock of Marianne's hair, as it lies tumbled down her back. By the end of the century the fashion of the very short waist arrived from France, with a light sash or ribbon tied immediately under breasts, and remained popular for the next twenty years; dresses were now at their skimpiest, nearly always white, and made of the thinnest of fabrics, and hair styled to be short and curly.
One of the girls' favourite social activity was dancing, for this was the chief way in which young people could become acquainted with each other in a respectable and carefully chaperoned environment. Modern readers are sometimes puzzled as to why dance scenes have so prominent a place in Jane Austen's novels; but in her lifetime the dance floor was the best, and indeed almost the only place, where marriage partners could be identified and courtship could flourish.