|Shiny Pink Disco-Ball of Death|
In my dealings with the ORS, and the RSA from the beginning, I have been utterly unable to even pursue the idea of accuracy even if I wanted to; because I just never had the time to put in the hand-sewing and dogged research and dedication required to be a truly authentic ‘reenactor’, let alone develop a character or persona with enough depth and believability to carry them through any extended period. It’s as simple as that. I was too busy with the events and the groups.
|People like Katherine here |
not only meet the standard,
she kind of creates a standard.
|Her work is always exquisite.|
So if *I* can’t even uphold a strict standard of accuracy, as the founder of the Oregon Regency Society and the Regency Society of America, who the hell am I to impose that standard on anyone else? Besides, the ORS and the RSA are and always have been umbrella groups that include all manner of Regency enthusiasts, which include reenactors. The ORS is not in any place to impose a standard besides “try your very best” on its members and the RSA member groups.
of Wall Treatments.
Most importantly, you don't have to be either perfect by re-enactor standard, nor do you have to be the disco-ball of death. There is a perfectly acceptable in-between that is achievable by anyone, with only a bit of care taken in your choice of patterns and your choice of fabrics. It will deflect the criticism, and it will create a precedent that disco-balls can follow. The ORS applauds the in-betweeners. *I* have been an in-betweener. I've covered overly shiny fabric with black voile, I've worn my modern glasses with all my gowns, I've spray-painted shoes... Hell, I've even made a gown from two packages of window sheers from Fred Meyer! And that's okay. I've made a concerted effort to at least *try* to look the part using my best resources available for my quick-and-easy approach these past five years. Now that I have found good leadership, I am now somewhat free to delve a little deeper into the authenticity, by trying to hand-sew and drape more, embracing more natural fabrics, and taking my time to research the gowns I want to make. Will I ever acheive reenactor standards? Probably not. But since I am ORS and not a reenactor, that's totally fine.
That has been my policy with both the RSA and the ORS. We embrace anyone who really makes tremendous effort, and we are accepting of those who are new to it and who want to learn. There are also inevitably the people who just don’t care. They show up in shining synthetic fabrics made with really bad Halloween-style patterns, and they have no desire to change or improve, and that’s okay too. If they’re there to feel princessy, dance, and feel dainty, we’re okay with that—and the group’s attitude should be ‘live and let live’, and we should be welcoming and kind, and keep our snickers to ourselves. Being mean and catty, it’s just not my style and I hope that tolerance and kindness are employed by all.
I confess I do snicker sometimes in secret with my closest friends in the group, I *do* giggle at really bad costumes, I would be lying if I claimed that I did not. But I do it in private. I try to be classy enough not do it overtly or mockingly at the person in question; hurting their feelings. I will even often compliment them on their efforts—because even if it is Halloween quality, it’s still an effort nonetheless, and a start. They might feel more compelled to try harder if you are kinder to them and you don’t ‘educate’ them in a patronizing and condescending way.
HOWEVER, in order to at least temper the abusiveness of the established folks in your desired Regency group (if you are about to join one, or have joined and have been ridiculed), I am offering the following recommendations for those of you who don’t really know where to begin, and what patterns and fabrics to use, here are my recommendations:
Here are some COMMERCIAL patterns I do NOT recommend:
This pattern is out of print (probably thankfully). But it can still be found on Amazon and eBay for the dogged person who likes over-froofy skirts and weird looking spencers. Not recommended
No entirely hideous, but also not entirely correct. The spencer is not at all correct. It’s still better than the Butterick Patterns. Out of print but available on Amazon & eBay. The sleeves on that blue gown are scary, bu tthe little one in the inset looks very nice. No idea what the backside looks like on either gown.
Reports are that the skirt is very narrow. The gown (sans all the extra floof) should be 1790ish, but requires some modification to make it more accurate to the period. Out of print but findable on Amazon & eBay. I have no idea about this gown, but I don't recommend it if you're a beginner, because modification would be required.
Modern closures in back, not the correct cut, but not the most hideous of beginner’s patterns. Still, there are LOTS of better patterns to, more accurate BY FAR choose from.
COMMERCIAL Patterns I would recommend to newcomers:
Most recommended dress for beginners. It is a conservative cut, even with the wider ‘ballgown’ neckline, but it’s still a lovely silhouette. BUT as with ALL these gowns, you *should* be wearing regency underpinnings and stays.
Simplicity 8399 (VIEW B ONLY)
Although advertised as the Edwardian gown, it works beautifully as a Regency Ballgown. The silhouette is beautiful.
There’s a great place to start if you want to throw together something for an ORS event. If you are looking for accuracy, then we can start talking about the non-commercial, historic patterns that are readily available online. Feel free to bug me if you want more information on the specialty patterns that many of the serious reenactors use.
STAY AWAY FROM SYNTHETICS! Period! There are a few ‘faux’ silks and taffetas that are workable, but please, please, please, don’t grab at the nearest shiny, froofy stuff and think, whoa, this would be so Cinderella! Synthetics are TERRIBLE in flash photography. People with respectable-looking gowns end up looking like disco-balls in too-shiny fabrics. I’d show you samples from some of our events, but I risk hurting people’s feelings. Stay away from lining material, slippy, slinky fabrics or anything with a tremendous shine to it.
There are some synthetics that may work, but choose the kind with matte finishes and that are delicate and not so modern-looking if you must choose synthetic materials.
Keep it light and natural! Linens and cottons for daygowns. Silks for ballgowns. Cotton nets, voile, lawn, organdy... you can get away with sheers for ballgowns anytime. Delicate cotton prints (no huge Victorian patterns please!) pastels, jewel tones, white... Delicate laces (again, no huge flowery Victorian laces), simple and beautiful.
If you start with natural fabrics, using a somewhat respectable commercial pattern, you're less likely to be raked across the coals by the meanies. But you can rest assured, that no matter what you show up in at our events (the ORS) that you are always welcome. And don't take it personally if we start suggesting patterns or fabrics in a kind way. We're not being evil, just trying to be helpful. ;)