Category Archives: Victorian

Beyond Bustles: Women’s Victorian Fashion

Editorial Note: All of the gorgeous dresses you’ll see here are on display or are in the collections of some of the great museums in the United States and Europe.  WordPress went nuts when I tried to include the URLs to their pages on the museum websites, so if you want to learn more about these beautiful garments, click the hyperlinks.

When I say “the 1980s”, what women’s fashions come to mind?  How about the 90s?  Or the 50s?  I’d ask what your answer are, but for one, I can’t hear you through the computer and two, you’ve probably answered “shoulder pads” for the 80s and I think we can all agree we don’t need to talk about shoulder pads.

Admit it.  You wore them, too.

photo credit here

But I think I’ve achieved my point — mention a decade and people will readily answer with clothes that defined it.  And, thanks to Hollywood’s love affair with the period drama, the average person can usually point out that Jane Austen’s time period involved empire-waist dresses, the Civil War had hoop skirts, and the late Victorian Era was the home of the bustle.

The truth of the matter is that fashion is so much more interesting and oh, so much more complex than that.  Sleeve length.  Neckline.  Hemline.  Silhouette.  I could go on and on.  The lingo may be only partly familiar, or not at all.  I’m a historical reenactor; it’s my business to know these things.  But I started out like any one of you reading this right now – with absolutely no clue.  So I learned.  And so can you.

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I just finished my hair for an event today…

…And as I worked, confining my rat’s nest within a multitude of bobby pins and enough hair spray to punch a new hole in the ozone layer, I reflected on the fact that, invariably, someone will come up to me and try to touch my hair.

no touching

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Reenactor Happiness…

…Is getting your new fake hair in the mail!


It’s two feet of fake hair that’s detergent-washable.  HOW IS THAT NOT FUN?!? Continue reading

It’s Like My Own Version of “Jaywalking”, Right in My Backyard…

Sometimes it’s a last-minute morning run to a supermarket to grab food on the way to an event. Or maybe it’s a stop-off at a restaurant on the way home. Even a pit stop to gas up the car. Either way, the reactions from the unsuspecting public are always amusing and never predictable.

I once had a man stop me on the street as I packed up my car, dressed only in my smallclothes. But he correctly identified me as a Revolutionary War reenactor (100 points to him!), and asked if there was an event nearby. He sounded keen to attend and it saddened me to inform him that the one I was headed to was over an hour away.

That’s a good interaction. He realized I was a reenactor. He knew what time period I portrayed. He seemed really excited that there might be a reenactment happing close by.

Most of the time, we aren’t that lucky. I don’t mean to harp on the public. They mean well. Often, they want to make informed inquiries but simply don’t have the framework by which to formulate questions. Continue reading