Outfit Inspiration

April 17th, 2012

While gradually gathering my sewing supplies from a series of vaguely marked boxes (my own fault for labeling them as “stuff”) I have been focusing my energy on dreaming rather than doing. Edwardian and Art Nouveau figure largely into my planned projects, with a healthy dose of the eccentric and absurd.

Costume & Construction posted this beauty a few weeks ago and I have been scheming ever since:

Edwardian Fencer

I’m also very taken with the 19-teens styles, as the Edwardian silhouette began to soften into the 20th century. It seems like an aesthetic that could even be worn today without occasioning too many odd looks.

An aside:

Let’s face it, there’s simply no way to look normal while wearing a hoop skirt to the grocery store. And I detest being the center of attention because of how I am dressed. Perhaps that’s an unfortunate quirk of character given my penchant for unusual and untimely clothing. But if I may paraphrase Emily Post, one should always strive to be unremarkably dressed. If you are going to wear something that will make people stare, be VERY sure that the stares are admiring.

Back to our regularly scheduled program:

In addition to expanding my wardrobe (and possibly designing some garments to share with the world — more on that soon), I’ve also been thinking about costumes for upcoming events, both public and private. For years I’ve wanted to host a “Caesar & Cleopatra” dinner. Inspired by the immortal Shavian play, we’d lounge on cushions, feasting on roasted fowl and dates soaked in rosewater under the evening sky. We’d stop just before the murder of Pothinas…

A key point to establishing the atmosphere for such an evening would be getting all the men to dress as Romans and all the women as Egyptians. Since my inspiration is Shaw’s play, not actual historical events, I’d rather choose a costume intended by the 19th century to evoke ancient Egypt instead of attempting an accurate version of a late Ptolemaic ensemble.

Cleopatra & Caesar by Jean-Leon Gerome

This 1866 painting of Cleopatra confronting Caesar by Jean-Léon Gérôme, for example.

  • Love the photo you opened the post with. There is something very brave about her facial expression, or is it bold? The little heart on her blouse makes me think she altered her outfits to please herself!

    • eva says:

      You’re right! I completely ignored her face — too busy drooling over the outfit — but she is definitely fearsome. I don’t know much about the heart on female fencing outfits, but it actually seems to be a tradition and something that they all wore. I need to dig more into that aspect of the “uniform…”

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