Step Back in Time: Costumes and Biltmore Estate

by Katherine Bone

biltmore estateIn April of this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, built between 1889 and 1895. George Washington Vanderbilt II brought his wife Edith to the 12,000 square foot palatial luxurious mansion-like castle, situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, shortly after their marriage, and it is still owned by Vanderbilt’s descendants today. The sprawling grounds cover 8,000 acres, sure to rival any working European estate. Built in the Châteauesque style, the Biltmore is one of the most sought after romantic getaways in the southern US. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and the home’s décor is arranged the way it would have been in George and Edith Vanderbilt’s day.

The particular day I visited Vanderbilt’s architectural masterpiece, I had the opportunity to experience the Historical Costume Exhibit. The exhibit consisted of clothes from historical films like Sense & Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, Sleepy Hollow, The

kathy bone-Mr. Darcy's and Elizabeth's costumes in Pride & Prejudice

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s outfits from                Pride and Prejudice                          


Golden Bowl, The House of Mirth, The Portrait of a Lady, Anna Karenina, Finding Neverland, Twelfth Night, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Sherlock Holmes, a Game of Shadows. I wasn’t disappointed. Being able to see the costumes up close filled me with a sense of wonder and awe. The detailed stitching made me appreciate the hours of artistry that went into creating each of the garments.

Another reason for visiting the Biltmore Estate was to stroll through its formal and informal gardens. The American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the lush and large gardens that transport visitors to Tuscany. On the grounds, people can relax beneath old and twisted wisteria vines or appraise 250 varieties of roses planted in symmetrical patterns. If you’re a hiker, you can trek through 2.5 miles of lush forests, open meadows, and manicured gardens around the manse.  

kathy bone--Mia Wasikowska's costume from Jane Eyre

Mia Wasikowska’s gown from Jane Eyre


If you need sustenance, there are restaurants too. Need a shot of something more bracing? How about sampling vintage wines at the Biltmore Winery while observing spectacular autumn foliage? I got to taste up to ten wines, some new to me and discovered I love a red wine called Malbec.

It’s safe to say anyone who goes to the Biltmore Estate will find something to do and enjoy there. The Historical Costume Exhibit made my trip exceptional. And the icing on the cake was I got to experience it with several other historical romance authors too. We all felt as if we’d stepped back in time to witness how our characters might have lived when life was simpler and attention was paid to detail.


Kathy bone--The Biltmore Winery

from left: Samantha Kane, Katherine Bone, Ava Stone, Julie Johnstone


For more information or to arrange your romantic tour of the Biltmore Estate, click here.

If you’d like to see more photographs of the costumes I saw at the Biltmore Estate, you can find them on my Instagram page here.

Here are a few more costumes.

kathy bone--Emma Thompson's costume in Sense & Sensibility

Emma Thompson’s gown from                  Sense and Sensibility                          

kathy bone--Nicole Kidman's costume from The Portrait of a Lady

Nicole Kidman’s gown from                  The Portrait of a Lady              

kathy bone--Johnny Depp's costume in Sleepy Hollow

Johnny Depp’s costumes from                    Sleepy Hollow                 


6 thoughts on “Step Back in Time: Costumes and Biltmore Estate

  1. I’ve visited Biltmore, Katherine, but I wish they’d had the Historical Costumes exhibit when I was there. What an exciting trip for an author. Now if I can just get back to Biltmore for Christmas!


    • I’ve heard so much about visiting the Biltmore at Christmas time, sjmn6! I’ve never been at Christmas and would love to see the manse decorated for the holidays. The gardens were just getting started in April and I imagine they would be much more beautiful in the summer. Would love to go back! 😉


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