Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Afternoon Outing in Costume (In which our heroine has a Very Good Hair Day)

Yesterday, we did an afternoon out in costume to a local Sherlock Holmes convention. While we weren't hard core Sherlock Holmes fans (unless it's the new BBC Sherlock) it seemed like a good excuse to get dressed up and try out some new outfits.

This is Jay in the vest I made him for HSF#5 and a frock coat we got on the web. My men's tailoring skills are minimal and until I get my skills honed more (so many projects, so little time!) we do buy a decent amount of his stuff.  Having a theatrical background in costuming, I've always held that the true art of the costumer is the final look:head to toe and all methods are fair in getting to that point, be it buy, build or borrow. (those of you that have known me long enough may recognize the walking stick from my LARP days, years ago.  It's been travelling with me since then and began life as a doorknob and a wooden dowel)

He's been growing his hair long to be able to pull it back for a ballroom competition and based on that hair, I have visions of a Young Prince Vlad cosplay for DragonCon dancing in my head now

  Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

For me,  I've laughingly said more than once that this is just going to be a year of foundations for me..  until I get corsets, petticoats, hoops, panniers etc. done, there's really no sense in making any outer garments for any era pre-1920s..   But I also don't want to forgo outings in costume while I (slowly) get my foundations made. Nor do I want to rush slapdash through my foundations and be unhappy with the end result.  So yesterday's outfit was a mix of off the rack and made by me.  One of the women in my Victorian Undergarments class had a similar situation where she needed something fast for an event and said that she had ordered from Gentlemen's Emporium and was generally pleased by their quality (for a "costume house").  So when we bought Jay a shirt with the detachable collar, I picked up the black and white striped shirtwaist.  (yes, I am still going through this fascination with black and white stripes)

The hat was from HSF#1 Make Do and Mend and the 2 petticoats I'd made since the beginning of the year filled out the skirt nicely.   I was especially pleased with how my hair came out.  And more importantly, how manageable the style was to do.  I'd recommend it to anyone that doesn't have an aversion to having a decent amount of styling product in their hair.  

I bought a rat from Era Hairpieces  There is a DIY tutorial at The Costumer's Manifesto but I found the rat I purchased to be far superior to the one I made.

Comb your hair "Cousin It" style over your face, put the rat on top like a crown, then start wrapping your hair up over the rat and tucking it in. Hairspray to taste.  (I live by Kenra 25 Volumizing spray.  It is pretty much the only thing that works on my hair)  It took me under 10 minutes.  And I wish I'd taken more pictures,  but at the time I wasn't thinking about blogging about it.

  • My hair is fine and straight but there is a lot of it.  It just doesn't want to *do* much without some serious coaxing (hence the styling products)  I've seen women with curly hair do this style and it was breathtakingly lovely.
  • My normal hairstyle currently just above the shoulder with a few long layers in it.  Not sure how it would work for shorter hair, especially with lots of layers.
  • I'd washed my hair the day before, not that morning and my normal routine includes Living Proof Style Extender (this stuff is amazing for making recalcitrant hair behave!), Bumble and Bumble's Thickening Spray and Living Proof Root Boost before blow drying. I'd also freshened the roots with some Oscar Blandi dry shampoo that morning when I got up.  
  • Historically, the Victorian/Edwardian women didn't wash their hair daily like we do now.  So trying to do some of the elaborate period styles with squeaky clean hair is starting off at a serious disadvantage.  I am anything but a trained hair stylist.  However, the difference in what I can manage with my hair with styling product in it and what I can manage without is huge! If you are styling product adverse, the Pragmatic Costumer (whose blog I love!) has a tutorial on a Gibson Girl style sans product.
Best of all, I took my hat off as we were leaving the con and looked in the car window and I had absolutely no hat hair whatsoever.


  1. Thanks, enjoyed this and the pix!!!

  2. (1) Jay looks awesome! (2) So do you! You do beautiful work.

  3. I've been wanting to style my hair in some unique/elegant way..hmm...

    And yes I agree with Diana, you both look amazing!!!