Curiously, even though I'm proud of all these pieces I feel kind of shy sharing them because... well... it's still dressing up you know? You either get that it's fun to play dress-ups every now and then, or you think it's the last refuge of the truly weird (in reality it's about a 90%/10% split).
I used to play with a historical re-creation group called "The Society For Creative Anachronism", and lots of the costumes I have made were made in the context of participating in the SCA. Many people scoff at the whole re-enacter scenario, sometimes with reason, but for me it was a positive experience. I was actually drawn to re-enacting through the creative side. The events, although often really good fun, were never the main drawcard for me, and in fact once going to events started to become onerous I dropped out. Costuming, embroidery, painting 'illuminations' for calligraphy, making other artifacts, and especially the research aspect of it all, were the original lure.
My SCA 'persona' was a late Elizabethan era Italian, and I made this olive green and black silk suit fairly on in playing with the SCA. It was the first heavily researched outfit I made, and I put lots of effort into getting the shapes and basic construction right.
It's fairly lightweight silk, fully interlined and lined, and tailored so as to be more like clothing than a smoke and mirrors 'good from a distance' theatrical costume. The 2 piece curved sleeves tie into the doublet at the armhole, an authentic technique that was probably designed so that replacement or maybe even contrasting sleeves could be worn. The paned trunk hose (or 'slops') tie into the bottom of the doublet also, keeping the pants up and stopping the doublet from riding up.
I used to mostly wear this suit with a fairly simple shirt and a white neck ruff. Ruffs are quite uncomfortable to wear, so I made this 'falling band' or 'falling collar' style shirt to wear some of the time. It's made of fine linen, with cotton lace at the collar and cuffs and fine ties at the cuffs to hold the turnback cuffs in place.
So that's costume #1 described and shown. Phew, not so bad. No cringing or sliding into a 47 paragraph dissertation on Elizabethan era men's clothing (I could do it you know, in fact I've taught classes on it).
So, on to costume #2.
In 2005 two friends of mine held a Trafalgar Dinner to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, complete with authentic period food and drink. It was a fantastic night and I blogged the event here.
This suit was based on an English military uniform of the era I found in a book, and made in a lightweight navy coloured wool. I scrimped a bit on construction because it was only designed to be worn for the one night, so it isn't lined and some of the details (like the button holes) were done a bit rushed. Every time I look at it I think they could do with being oversewn by hand to make them look more period. (But then, that's me.)
The shape is authentic, and I drafted the pattern after pouring over engravings and any garment research I could find from the period. My kind of fun. It's a little shapeless on the stand because I was a bit fatter back then (and if I wasn't, I would have been after the basquillion courses we had for dinner).
I did however spend an absolutely insane amount of time doing a miniscule hand rolled and sewn edge on the metres and metres of linen used to make the long narrow stock (tie) for the shirt. Hi, I'm insane, nice to meet you.
The breeches were fun to make, figuring out how to fit pants is hard at the best of times (hello, have you seen the crotches on Project Runway?) and figuring the drop front was extra fun. The end result is a good fit, and quite flattering. How do I put this gently? These sorts of breeches, when worn correctly (ie: without tightly binding modern underwear) really do wonders for your man parts. Seriously. Check out the crotches on any Beau Brummel/Jane Austeny era drama where the costumes are really authentic. Guessing who dresses to the left (or right) is a no-brainer.
Even I'm surprised I went there, but really one of the fascinating things about the history of clothing is what it says about societies. The 19th century was archly conservative and yet men wore breeches that enhanced and flaunted their manhood, and for a brief period women even wore damp gauze dresses that made them look almost naked. It was inappropriate for Elizabethan men to be seen outside the bedroom in their shirtsleeves, but lavish codpieces were ok.
The past is a foreign country, and researching this stuff is a bit like getting a temporary visa.