At The Ball…

Iwas finally able to finish and show off our new “Anastasia” gown model and Adam wore his new custom set of formal tails at the Social Daunce Irregulars 2017 Holiday Grand Ball. A lovely time was spent visiting with friends, then we snuck home early to enjoy a late night supper- a lovely evening! 🙂

Here are a few pictures from the evening. First, we start with the obligatory “selfie”… 🙂

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And now the two of us…

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And another close-up of me and the Anastasia dress:

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And Adam:

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An Evening Out- Lily Absinthe Style

Last night we decided to take a break from work and hit the dance floor at the Social Daunce Irregulars Spring Ball– we don’t often get to attend events in period attire but the SDI Balls are always a favorite with us and it gives us an opportunity to wear some of our finery in a nice environment. Usually, we’re unveiling some new fantastical ball gown or evening dress design but this time the “headliner” was a new evening outfit for me. As previously mentioned in another post, Karin had graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to work on a new shirt, trousers, and waistcoat for me and the results are, in a word, FABULOUS!

For some time, I have not had any proper evening clothes. Years ago when I was involved in American Civil War, I had an extensive wardrobe but it was never my favorite period and while everything fit and looked good, it was never my favorite look and just didn’t really speak to me, especially since the clothing tended to be somewhat baggy. I much more prefer the 1880s- 1900s- the look works for me and I just feel better wearing them. Purely subjective on my part but fashion can be a highly subjective matter. 🙂

While I love wearing uniforms (I regularly switch between German and American), I also wanted something civilian of a more formal nature- something I could wear to evening events such as balls. At the same time, also wanted something that I would wear during the day for equally formal occasions. For evening wear of the late 19th Century, there is always the standard default position of black tailcoat, white or black vest, white shirt, and white tie but this really doesn’t appeal to me so I opted for something a bit more flexible- yes, I know that this is playing a bit fast and loose with the social conventions of the 1880s and 90s but this is just a temporary situation- someday I will develop a formal evening wardrobe. 🙂

So here’s what I put together for myself:

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The coat was sourced from a coat manufacturer and while it follows the lines of a frock coat, it’s lighter and lacks the outside pockets normally found. For my purposes, it worked perfectly and the fit is amazing for something bought off-the-rack. Technically speaking, this is daywear of a formal style but as I indicated before, I was looking for something that would work double-duty for both formal day events and evening affairs.

Of course, when one goes out for the evening, one must have the perfect accompaniment and that’s where Karin come in; 🙂

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Now for the more astute, I will point out that my outfit is 1880s-90s while Karin’s ball gown is from the late 1870s. Now for a look at Karin’s ball gown:

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This dress is the “Anastasia” from our line, consisting of a silk taffeta base fabric and completely under-sewn knife pleating with English net overlays and shirring, and silk duchesse satin bows and sashes. The bodice is silk brocade with antique Brussels lace bertha and matching sleeve flounces. Complete understructure attached with attached with petticoat. The “Anastasia” gown is part of our Lily Absinthe Bridal and Formal line.

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One side note on hairstyles- the hairstyles of the late 1870s were centered on “big hair” and Karin’s was no exception. Here’s some of our inspiration:

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Overall, the night was sheer perfection with no wardrobe issues and everything fitting perfectly. We concluded the evening with a late night supper topped off by our most favorite of beverages: 🙂

And For Something Different…

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Now for something a little different… 🙂 I’ve been in need of a new outfit for more formal occasions for some time but between the production schedule and working up new designs, personal needs have taken a back seat. However, recently the stars have aligned and so Karin is now working on a few items for me. First off, there’s a nice new white formal shirt made from an exquisite Italian cotton shirting:

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The only thing that needs to be done is for the buttonholes to be set and buttons sewn on.

The next step is waistcoat and trouser assembly. I’m going for a more tailored look which was characteristic of the 1880s and 90s and after looking at some of the various styles that were common, I opted for one that would work with a variety of outfits:

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I opted for the style on the top right.

As can be seen from the above, there were a variety of styles that were available. The more open vests (the second and forth waistcoats on the bottom row) were meant for more formal evening wear while the others could be worn either way. During this period, men’s clothing was becoming more somber with a more limited range of colors than what was characteristic of the 1860s and early 1870s. For myself, I opted for a dark gray with subtle pinstripes:

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Working on men’s clothing is different than working on women’s and can present it’s own challenges. Karin’s view is that:

I have always had great respect for those who are dedicated to men’s tailoring, it’s so different than dealing with traditional feminine shapes.

Stay tuned for more- I’ll be modeling my new clothes this Saturday at the Social Daunce Irregulars Spring Ball. 🙂

The Frosting…

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I‘m always being asked “What part do you like to do the best?” My answer is…the “frosting”! The right “frosting” can make or break a gown and there are several factors to consider:  the event, the location, the wearer, the lighting, the season, and even the weather.

There are some frosting bits that are permanently installed such as embroidery, lesage, beading, or applique. Other elements can be removable like bows, sashes, and corsages. There’s a distinct satisfaction with frosting…it’s a sign that the gown’s status is close to finished. ❤