This is my historical costuming resolution for 2018. YOU DO YOU.
I'm a self-proclaimed historical COSTUMER.
I've been a re-en-actor, dressing in HA clothes and doing demo dances for the public in historic houses/museums. I've been a costumer, dressing in close to HA clothes and going to private events or public events in costume. Historically costumed, I've been to fancy private houses, to fancy public houses, and everything in between: I've done demo dances for historic hours tours, I've been an extra in TV/film, I've been asked if I'm Amish, if I'm Victorian, if I'm in a play, or going to the Renn Faire, or if I work for Colonial Williamsburg, I've been photographed and featured on websites, in promotional videos, marketing materials, in newspapers, and in magazines, complimented by well-known politicians and more,and almost always in as-HA-as-possible historical costume. That's all great, but what matters is, I do this historical costuming hobby because it's F-U-N.
I'm not saying this stuff above to claim some sort of fame - if it were about that, I'd list and share and mention every time "I was noticed" in this hobby - I'd tell you all about the who and the what and the why, but none of that matters. What matters is that this is my JAM, it's me. I'm appreciative of each and every moment in this hobby, the private ones and the public ones, because to me, that's what it's all about, the fun. It's a way to enjoy myself, to express myself and to BE myself: I love to sew and I love historic fashion. I'm being me. Historical costumed me is me.
In this our costuming and re-enacting world, I'm tired of drama, of being told to let mean girl behavior slide because 'we all need to get along.' I'd LIKE to all get along, but we don't NEED to all get along. And there's a difference. I'm not willing anymore to sit down and be silent when my friends are treated poorly, or when I am treated poorly. To ridicule someone in public or in private, online or not, who is taking part in this historical costuming hobby (or cosplay, or re-enacting) or to pick apart their attempts to join in this hobby simply because it's "not HA enough", or they used a zipper or faux fabrics, or safety pins or the look is 'off' or whatever - I'm sorry, there's NO excuse for that sort of mean girl behavior. We all started with zippers, and it's totally ok if you use them now (I personally safety pin myself into my costumes often because it's not seen and it doesn't matter to me). And if you somehow skipped the zipper phase, you're not special and allowed to push your own standards on others. If someone is asking how to be more HA, great, share away, but please do it in love and kindness. Anything else I've found is or becomes unacceptable behavior. You do this to help others learn about HA fashion? Great, share away, in kindness and when they ASK for help. You graduated with a masters in this? Great! I have one too, just in business, not in theatre/art/fashion/costuming/sewing. I do this for fun, many of you do this for fun or WANT to do this, but are too afraid to join in. I learned how to hand and machine sew from my mother, who is a professional quilter, and I am self taught since and have also learned from other historical costumers too, over the years. Please know, Your standards are not my standards. My standards are not your standards. Their standards are not your standards. Historical standards are not THE standards - we have a limited view into what they did in the past and sure, we research and confirm and learn things, but that doesn't mean that it matters or applies to everyone taking part in this hobby, to each her (or his) own.
Historical costuming is my hobby. It's a way to be creative, to sew, to dream, to plan, to dress up in fun clothes, to try different materials and methods, to learn, to grow, to enjoy life. To have fun myself, with my family and with friends, with others who like to do this and even at times with the public. I do a lot of research, I pour over fashion plates and portraits and extant garments. I like using materials that are close to what they had back then, I like to get the look close to what I see in the fashion plates and the portraits, and later the photographs. And I'm a SILK ADDICT, so yeah, I use that stuff A LOT. But the reality is, we often don't have the same materials, we don't have the same fabric or weaves, and we don't have the complete picture of what they did back then, because we only have snapshots and little windows into the past. I love to hand sew! I started young, with quilting as a child, but I don't do this full time. And I adore my sewing machine. I do both hand and machine sewing. And I have a small business that I do for fun and to help support my hobby, and because business is fun to me. I limit myself in historical costuming by my budget, time constraints, skill, other interests, family commitments, business, my career choices and so much more - by my choice. Yes, I like to be HA, but I'm not asking how to be so. I do my own research or ask for HA opinions when wanted. My standards are not your standards, they are mine only. I do me. You do you.
I stress again, this hobby is all about fun, for me, for my friends, for many others. If you're in this for fame, and you're miserable because you're not noticed or because someone else gets noticed, then we're probably not a good costumer friendship match. I'm happy for others successes and I'm here cheering you on! And there are many others who feel that way too! If you want to be invited to events to feel good that you're popular, but you have no intention of ever going or you only go to turn up your nose at things, or you're a bad guest to the hostess or other guests, we're simply not going to gel. And that's ok. Private(and public) events take a lot of time and effort, and my 1-2 costume private events a year I'm space limited. In the past, I've invited folks to be nice or to include or not make waves, but that's a thing of the past. No more. Personally I'm done rewarding or ignoring bad behavior. I'm resolved to take back my enjoyment in this hobby. I hope you join me.
And like so many of you out there, I'm an introvert. An extroverted introvert, but an introvert non-theless. For someone who likes to dress up and have fun, I'm a fairly private person. Sharing my costumes and sewing adventures online doesn't come natural to me. Sharing this here is definitely a huge step for me. There is no secret club, at least not one I'm in - I've just been doing this awhile, and so have others and we've all gotten to know each other over time. Many of us poured out our lives together, the good and the bad, on venues like Live Journal, and we bonded over a shared love of historic fashion and empathy over life's struggles. I know some wonderful folks in costuming, those are the people I'm going to surround myself with, along with new costumer friends, folks who believe as I do, who do this for fun and who I become friends with over time.
A dear costumer friend passed away two years ago yesterday, who had the kindest and most welcoming heart of any costumer I know. She knew her HA and did it spot on, and yet still welcomed me to my first private fancy costumed evening (late 18th century Twelfth Night) with open arms and a welcoming heart, even as I stepped in, with my faux taffeta late 18th century pocket hoop gown, an early attempt at HA. That didn't stop her from encouraging the beginner that I was in historic fashion. Let's take a page from her book and treat each other with kindness always. I do me. You do you.
Some people put all their effort into the research and the dress is secondary. Some people put their hearts into their COSTUME and do a bit of light reading so it's "close enough". Some people want to educate. Some people want to party. It's all good! It's important to let people have their sort of fun and to find others who share those same priorities.ReplyDelete
What a wonderful statement! I've always said, Mae West may have been rather historically inaccurate BUT wouldn't it have been grand if gals DID dress like that in the 1890's??!!Delete
@ Learning to Costume, so true! Exactly, to each their own! It's ok to do a lot of research and it's ok not to; everyone gets to pick how they take part in all areas of life, including this one. :)Delete
And you rock for coming up with the "YOU DO YOU" slogan, we need buttons! Let's start a movement! :)
@ Mark Wood: so true and it's not like I look to Hollywood for HA! I appreciate it when they do, it's much less distracting when the clothes are right (to someone like me who notices), but sometimes it's all about the costume or the fun or the effect or the presentation!Delete
YOU DO YOU CoCo Ribbons!Delete
Yes!! That idea came to me yesterday and I'm alreadyworking on it! Great minds! ;)Delete
Thank you for posting this. I have been costuming and cosplaying for 15 years but I am constantly worried about being judged by historical costumers because I am newer to that realm.ReplyDelete
Aw, thank you, Natasha :). I appreciate the words of support, and you are so welcome: I've been dressing up and doing historical costuming for about that long (I dressed up before I started making my own dresses), and while I can't speak for everyone, I can say that I am happy to have folks at all different levels and interests join in the historical costuming fun! It's all about 'owning' the look, and having fun, and being with people who accept you and support you, and having fun together. :)Delete
Thank you so much for posting this! I have been costuming for a year now and I always worry about being judged as well. I am still learning and want to soak so much into and knowledge. I do sometimes get that cliquish feeling when going to certain events and that is sad. One of my personal goals is to go to costume college and I am so worried about the cliquishness when it’s supposed to be about having FUN! Again thank you!!!ReplyDelete
Yay, I'm so glad you joined in the FUN! And please don't let the nay-sayers get you down, kind and fun costumers are out there! I wish I could say there weren't cliques, I just avoid as much as possible and keep welcoming new costumers into this fun hobby whenever I can. :) I enjoy Costume College when I go, I hang out with other girls who want to have fun too! ;)Delete
Thank you for posting this! I am a historical costuming newbie, although I'm a lifelong sewist and have been sewing vintage for years now. I've bee going to events for a year now and it often seems clique-ish. Most are welcoming, but it does get scary for an introvert like me when you know no one and everyone is grouped up.... I sure hope that people aren't going around being snarky to newcomers.ReplyDelete
Yay and you are welcome. :) There are so many introverts in this hobby, definitely not alone in that respect! yay for sewing and vintage, I love, love sewing - so glad you're doing historical costuming too, it's really fun. I don't know the events or costumers where you are, so I say keep being friendly and showing up, and if you find any mean girl behavior, steer clear and keep looking until you find the kind ones: they are out there and like to be inclusive, even when they are on the introverted side! ;)Delete
Good post! There are so many different kinds of events to wear historic costume, and having the variety is important. Does the event have rules about how to dress? If so, everyone needs to know ahead of time. Are you the one in charge of maintaining the standards of the event or group? If not, then don't. If you want to do something else, you can host your own, even if it's just a few people over for tea. Not everyone has the same focus, but we're ALL doing it for fun.ReplyDelete
:) Yes, I love the variety, so many eras, so many events to choose from! Plus everything from public to private events. My friend recently hosted a private themed dinner and we were all asked to come in theme: I was happy to do so, it's her event so it's her dress code :). I made up a whole new outfit for the event, and it was so much fun! And that last statement is SO true, we should all be doing this because it's FUN!Delete
Thank you! what class :-)ReplyDelete
Awww, thank you! :)Delete
This!!!!! I've been feeling so down lately because of getting burned by a bunch of "mean girl" behavior in the costuming community. And, I've also been disappointed by witnessing some real sweet-to-them-in-person-but-backstabbing-the-minute-they-leave-the-room nonsense and I'm glad to know that someone out there is as upset by it as I am! Thank you for posting this. I wish more people in the costuming community were like you!ReplyDelete
Aw, thanks my dear: don't let that behavior get you down, you be you and you are fabulous (I can say this with so much truth, since we have gotten to take part in events together over the years!). This is a FUN hobby, keep doing what makes you happy: costuming, weaving, whatever it is. And let me say that you have also inspired me lately, I was looking at pictures of you in your lovely Hello Kitty dress just yesterday from Costume Con 27 :) :) :).Delete
I miss our friend. She was the epitome of grace. I have re-enacted for 34 years and have learned not to give my opinion unless asked. I get frustrated though, when costumers come into our sandbox (an HA event) and kick sand at us when we ask them to play by our rules. You do you in your sandbox, I will do me in mine. No judgement.ReplyDelete
Yes, she was so gracious, so kind, I miss her often. :(Delete
The world is a big place with people free to move about: there is no sandbox, no boundary. :) We just need to be kind and respectful wherever we are and whatever we do. Costumers are free to go to re-enactments just like the public is, and re-enactors are free to go to costumer events just like the public is. Everyone should always be respectful though to circumstances and context. If going to a funeral, black and quiet are the acceptable practice. If going to a re-enactment and you're not a re-enactor, make an attempt to be correct (you're the public but the rest of the public will assume you're a re-enactor if you're dressed). If taking part in a re-enactment and you're a re-enactor, the appropriate attire is the acceptable practice. Unkindness never is. None of us own this hobby, this world,, we all just do it so long and love it so much, it feels like it. The truth is we're all just taking part in something with a bigger meaning/purpose. :)