Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shoes shoe shoes

Last week I had somebody ask me a question about shoes in the 1860's. I, of course, directed her to my Pinterest boards, but it wasn't a "juicy" enough question to do a Fashion Central post about.

These are slippers of some kind, probably American. I'm guessing they're house slippers but I don't really know.

Over to the right is a pair of wedding boots, circa 1860. They would have been worn at a wedding, obviously. The toes are interesting, and from what I'm seeing in various places fairly normal for this period.

Now what girl doesn't want pink, high-top, button-up leather boots? They're from 1868.

These also date to around 1860. I pinned them because I've never seen anything like them before. They look to be a combination of silk and leather, and they lace up the side. I'm really not sure what to make of them, and the have the same shape and to as the white boots. They're in the Oakland Museum in California.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Things that make me go SQUEE!

In no particular order...


Things that make me go UGH

  • The Senate wasting my money on hearings for Bountygate (courtesy of Dick Durbin, D-Ill)
  •  Roger Goodell's hypocrisy
  • Campaign calls
  • Ron Paul supporters who paint their candidate's name on another candidate's sign
  • Tim Tebow to the Jets (really? REALLY?)
  • Allergies
  • Allergies
  • Allergies
  • Not sleeping good
  • Big Bang Theory being preempted by March Madness

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ball gown in blush pink silk



The current WIP is set in 1860 and the heroine desperately needs new clothes. The hero is a wealthy cotton factor and he buys her a new wardrobe. She's mulatto and living in his house under his protection, so it felt right for him to do it. He's also subconsciously trying to buy her love. What better way to do that than with clothes?

This evening gown is the finest thing she's ever owned. It's in the collection of the Royal Armory and Hallwyl Museum in Stockholm.

I'm guessing it's some type of silk. Moire maybe, aka watered silk. It doesn't look like taffeta at all.

What really drew me to it is the lace. I've never seen it swagged like that on the skirt. Divine isn't it? Also the massive box pleats skirt are unusual.

The point of the bodice is typical for the early 1860's. This dress is probably later than 1860, but since there will be no picture of it in the book I don't really care. It's not like I go into great detail about the point of the bodice and the shape of the skirt. She's not a seamstress. In fact, she hates sewing with a grand passion. That surprised me when she revealed it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lavender Stripes


Those who know me know with no explanation why I love this dress so much. For those of you who don't yet know me very well, I'm rather fond of the color purple.

Okay, so that's an understatement. Purple and its many variations is the best color on earth. Period.

Another reason I love this dress is because I have an 1830's dress custom made for me out of this exact fabric. Right down to the width of the stripes. I'm even going to guess this fabric is polished cotton, like me. Gorgeous to look at, torture to wear in the Deep South in any month besides January and February. This particular dress is French and dated to 1867.

I want to point out the draping on the front of the skirt. This is classic first bustle era. The front of the skirt became an artist's canvas and could sometimes get pretty crazy.

It's not often I come across a dress from this era with a front and side/back view. Again, on the back here you can see how the fabric is bunched up at the top, decorated with a bow, and is beginning to go crazy with ruffles. As the first bustle era progressed and then segued into the natural form era, seamstresses sometimes went NUTS with ruffles. I mean nuts.

The white between the stripes has faded to cream. Which was probably the cotton's original color. Bolls of cotton fresh off the plant are truly white, but once you start processing it it doesn't stay white. All the oils it comes into contact with from human skin builds up on the fibers and turns it cream.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elegant Simplicity

I love the simplicity of this dress. And the elegance. It hits every note of why I love dresses from the 1860's.

It's from 1865 and it's probably at the Met. I forgot to note where it came from...

The print is a little on the unusual side. Smaller patterns were more common. The fringe trim at the waist is also unusual for this period. But adds to the beauty.

There's no picture of the back, but just from this view and knowing what I'm looking at, I can see the beginning of the first bustle era. See how it's relatively flat in front and gathered in the back at the top of the skirt? This is the move to the first bustle era, which I think is the prettier of the two.

What's really cool about this post though, is that I have a picture of an actual hoop from this period that is very similar to the one under this dress.

Pretty cool, huh? It may be easier for me to see since I know what I'm looking at, but this hoop is starting to elongate to the back and become more of an oval shape. This started late 1863/early 1864. The reason it doesn't show up in American fashion until 1865-1866 is because of the Civil War. As the decade progressed, and as you can see in the 1865 dress above, the front of the dress changed to completely flat and the backs of the dresses became more and more elaborate.

Eventually the hoop disappeared completely and was replaced by the bustle. By 1870 the hoop was dead.

Next week I'll have a picture of a French dress from 1867 that beautifully illustrates the extreme change in the back of the skirt.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings: Hubris

I don't know if this will turn into a regular feature or not, but it's on my mind and this blog is a reflection of me and all my varied interests.

Hubris is one of my pastor's favorite words. It's always on display in man and is usually a big part of whatever trouble we get ourselves into.

I admit it. I'm a closet football fan. Not a diehard by any means, but there's an inherent fascinatingness for me about the game and the people involved. Due in large part to a character in my head who happens to play it at the highest level... The world of professional sports is a great place to find hubris on display. And unfortunately for Louisiana, we're right smack in the middle of it at the moment.

The Saints have fallen victim to hubris. The story broke late Friday afternoon (or as Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory would say, prevening). The Who Dat nation is very hurt and very disappointed. Some Vikings fans are calling for our Super Bowl title to be revoked, which is absurd. But it's still out there. One of the players named in the allegations is being crucified on Twitter. The entire magical run of 2009-2011 is now badly tarnished and possibly stained with blood.

What the Saints have done is wrong, make no mistake. Roger Goodell is well within his rights to do most of what the analysts are saying he'll do. Stuff like this has to be stopped for the good of the game and the lives of the men targeted. Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis knew what was going on, were told to stop it and didn't. The height of hubris, we're not going to get caught.

It's also a sad commentary on the state of mankind. And a reminder that we all need God's grace. Especially when we do something as stupid as putting a bounty on an opposing quarterback to knock him out of the game.

I'm praying for the team, and the fans. A lot of innocent people are going to be hurt in all this. The Saints gave Louisiana a reason to hope again, after Katrina and Rita. I'm pretty confident in saying most fans will stick by them, and stick up for them when necessary. Just because the defense screwed up doesn't mean the team's accomplishments should be negated.

Grace is always available for the asking. And I choose to extend it now and not be mad at the Saints for screwing up so bad. Because we all do it in one way or another.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Romance in Unusual Places

While we're on the subject of mourning this week, I also think old cemeteries are some of the most romantic places in the world. Especially old Southern ones filled with ancient live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, tombstones so old the lettering is nearly gone, crypts caving in due to age.

Southern cemeteries are especially pretty in the spring when the azaleas are in bloom. I took this picture six years ago in the historic cemetery at Grace Episcopal Church in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Some of the graves date back to the early 1800's.

The top picture is currently my desktop wallpaper.

Only in old cemeteries can you find graves like this one. There are several in this cemetery surrounded by ancient wrought iron, with worn, weathered tombstones. One is a family plot. There's also an old crypt (now empty, we think) that's falling in on itself. It's over a tunnel, lined with red bricks and still locked with a very old wrought iron gate.

The reason for me being in a cemetery taking pictures is my sister and I were down there spending the weekend at a friend's house six years ago. And it happened to my sister's birthday. Our friend is an amateur photographer and I had a new digital camera. A crappy one, to be honest, but it's hard to take bad pictures of such a beautiful place.

So we were in the cemetery taking pictures. Of the cemetery itself, of each other, doing poses, trying to look mysterious and other-worldly. Being young, twenty-something women in love with history and ambiance. It was a lot of fun. And I got some GREAT cemetery pictures out of it.