The well-bred girls of the nobility and gentry were considered school children until they were seventeen. They dressed simply and were not to speak in public unless spoken to first. Then at eighteen all that would change with their first season in London. There would be new gowns of all descriptions including ball gowns, walking dresses and morning gowns.
The season began with her debut at St. James Palace. Then an endless round of parties and balls. The desire of every young lady was a voucher to the exclusive Almack's club where she would be seen by the cream of eligible Regency bachelors. To be betrothed at the end of her first season was every girl's dream, although it sometimes took a second and third. It was during this time that families hoped for suitable alliances amongst others of the same class. Wealth might be important, but rank was supreme and a title most desirable. All this was to be accomplished in the five months time.
For most women, her greatest aim was to be married. Spinsterhood was frowned upon and a single woman's life was bound by many restrictions. She could be 'auntie' to her nieces and nephews or live with her parents. Life had to be lived carefully so that scandal was not brought upon the family. But you can be sure there was some rebels who lived their lives as they saw fit.