Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Event Announcement - Fezziwig's Ball 2011

Make sure to buy your tickets now... this event could easily sell out like last year, and you don't want to miss it!

You are Cordially Invited to
Fezziwig’s Ball

Saturday, December 10, 2011
7 pm lantern procession, 8 pm Ball
at Salem’s Old Town Hall
32 Derby Square, Salem, MA

Live Music by Spare Parts
Sponsored by
The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers
The Institute for Public History
at Gordon College

Adult $35; Students (with id) $15
  $5 surcharge for Tickets purchased at the door

For all the details, or to make reservations, go to the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers website:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1885 Flamingo Fancy Dress

I love fancy dress, and there is no way this is not a fancy dress costume. It is an 1885 painting of La Marquis D'Hervey Saint-Denys by Raimundo De MadrazoY Garreta. And the important thing is that this woman has a flamingo on her head. Oh yeah. I also really like her fixed flamingo fan. Although perhaps it is a scepter, because I think a lot of fancy dress outfits include those. I should probably do a post on pretty fixed fans, because I've been inspired by those lately. We shall see...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Winter Sports Wear in 1922

Finally, something for men who want to dress well. In fact, I was looking for something relating to women's ice skating clothes, but I happened upon this passage that was so charming I couldn't help but share it. I wish men actually thought of clothing this way. I am just in love with the statement that, given how lovely an ice skating scene is, "It is downright perverse to attach oneself to this scene without a bright necktie, gay muffler, or colored shirt." I yearn to be the girl in the orange sweater or, rather more likely given my color preferences, the scarlet coat. I wish everyone would arrange their clothing "with an eye to the picturesque." That is your homework today.

To be practical for a moment, this passage comes from a 1922 Vanity Fair, which I found available on google docs (how fabulous is that?) here. Check out page 76 to see the rest.
 "There is no wardrobe for winter sports other than that dictated by common sense. The activities of winter sports require warm, but not heavy or cumbersome clothing. Therefore a pair of knickers, a flannel shirt, a comfortable loose fitting jacket with a slip-on sweater, or some woolly type of waistcoat, are the things suited to these activities. As the articles mentioned are a part of every well-equipped man's wardrobe, there remains only the necessity of assembling them with an eye to the picturesque and to the gaiety befitting the occasion. There are no more decorative sports in the world than skating, skiing, tobogganing, etc. When one comes onto an ice pond, tucked away in some corner of the winter country side of a late winter afternoon, where young people are skating, the scene appears more brilliant than anything on the stage of a modern revue. There is something about the snow-clad landscape that cries for a red tam o'shanter or a green muffler. The girl one wants to skate with most is the one wearing the orange sweater or the scarlet coat. It is downright perverse to attach oneself to this scene without a bright necktie, gay muffler, or colored shirt. This is the day of bright colors in men's clothes. The correct sport shirt is made of a tropical weather flannel in bright blues, copper red, orange, salmon, or lemon yellow. A sweater, such as the Prince of Wales wears, is a riot in color and design, and is now the smart man's taste in place of the drab colored thing of yesterday. Even for town wear, the newest muffler is a striped affair of two or more bright colors. The country gentleman on Long Island resembles the Canadian woodsman more than his former self."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Polish Swan's Down

Apparently there is something Polish about swan's down trimming. Yesterday, when I talked about swan's down shoes, I brought up this Polish costume, with red boots trimmed in down.

But wait, there's more. This is from December 1863, and isn't it lovely?
This stylish costume may be made of any material. We would, however, suggest black silk as a pretty contrast to the swan's-down with which it is trimmed. It is merely a pointed waist, trimmed with down. A braided band trimmed with swan's-down is then laid on to form the jacket and girdle, giving the lower part of the waist the appearance of a vest. 
And here is an October 1864 Polish Coat.

Fig. 12. Polish jacket, made of black cloth braided with white silk braid, and trimmed with swan's-down.

Interesting, no?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Swans Down Shoes

Apparently in Madame Bovary (1856), her lover gives her a pair of pink satin shoes trimmed in swan down. How delicious. Since I haven't actually read this, I don't know if the description is any more specific than that, really. Anyway, I wonder what those shoes would be like...

Would they be like these boudoir slippers (Dec 1854), so lovely that Godey's hesitates to publish a description of them?
(The fine print: The inimitable articles which we have pictured are so lovely, comfortable, and becoming, that we almost hesitate to offer them to our readers, lest many, whose distant or inaccessible residences may render their procurement impossible, will sigh for them. Designed expressly for the boudoir, they are constructed of delicately tinted silks or satins— the particular ones here delineated being respectively a rose-hued satin and pea-green silk of the richest description. They are ornamented with rosettes and that loveliest of all trimmings, the snowlike swan's-down, or equally pure ermine, which is set off by the needleworked lining, which, like the outside, is of taffeta, and also quilted in exquisite workmanship. The inside soles are cushioned, so that the fair wearer may as softly tread as we would have each footstep of a beloved friend— and we mean each and all of our subscribers by that word— through this not-carpeted-with-velvet world.)

Might they be more like these morning slippers, perhaps?
(Ladies' morning slipper, made of blue velvet, embroidered with silver, trimmed around the top with swan's down, and lined with blue quilted satin.)

Or like these Polish red boots, bordered in swans down (November 1863)? By the way, if you didn't know, I have a particular affinity for red boots, so I am quite drawn to these... too bad they are part of a fancy dress costume, not that I'm sure that will dissuade me for long.

(The Polish dress consists of an underskirt of green bordered with scarlet. The corsage and short sleeves are of green, and the long sleeves scarlet. The upper skirt and point are of purple, edged with swan's-down. The sash is of scarlet, with black ends. Boots red, and bordered with swan's-down. Cap scarlet, bordered with swan's-down, and a black feather at the side.
The Louis XIVth costume consists of a petticoat of white satin, with a lace flounce on the edge of the skirt. The overdress is a very rich pink satin, trimmed with roses and quillings of silk. The hair is powdered, and dressed with a small wreath on the left side of the head)

Of course, although the red boots appeal to me greatly, it is possible that they would look to Santa-ish to the modern eye. Perhaps I am better off with white satin boots trimmed in swans down, as in this September 1864 description of a fancy dress costume:
“Snow.” A short white satin skirt, edged with swan's-down, and long crystal beads, imitating icicles. The low bodice is in the Louis XV. form; it is pointed, and made of white satin crossed with a band of swan's-down. In the centre, as an emblem of hope and spring, a tuft of half opened primroses is fastened. The hair is powdered, and underneath the left ear is fastened another tuft of primroses. A necklace of large crystal beads, with long drops in the form of icicles, is worn round the throat. The boots are of white satin, trimmed with swan's down.

Indeed, this "snow" costume sounds entirely appealing. But short of that, I would certainly not sneeze at a pair of pink satin shoes trimmed in swans down. In fact, I might have to make a pair.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ice Blue Swans Down Outfits

My most recent obsession is swans down. It is so fluffy! It is like fur, but possibly even better (and I do really like fur). I am completely in love with this 1870s blue quilted skating waistcoat (Manchester Galleries), which is obviously trimmed in swans down! In fact, I vow to make this. Solemnly so.

This 1885 dress is also lovely (Met). I adore how the train is trimmed all round with down, and how it is gathered up in a bow at the back. Trains, butt bows, and down trimming? I am so inspired!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fancy Dress Airplane!

Oh wow. I have a new favorite fancy dress costume ever. Unfortunately, one would need some pretty specific circumstances to get to wear it, since it is so obviously ragtime (1912) that you could really only wear it to a ragtime fancy dress ball. But oh, isn't the airplane headdress marvelous? And oh, don't you want plane wing epaulettes? Not to mention shoes with wings and a propeller bust! I love it.