Halloween is fast approaching, and I have nothing to wear. I do have a ¾ finished project from last year that I’ll be finishing up (and writing about), but in the mean time, I thought I’d share an interesting resource. In the late 1860s, Thomas Hailes Lacy, an actor and theatrical manager published two volumes of historical, national and dramatic dress (one each for women and men). Each contains approximately 200 different fashion plates for costumes through the ages. While they aren’t all precisely accurate for the eras they represent, each of these costumes is intriguing as they show the Victorian take on historical fashion (and fantastical characters in some cases).
You can view all of the plates, both male and female, at the University of Georgia’s online library: Lacy’s Dramatic Costumes.
Here are a few of my favorite plates from the women’s dramatic costume selection. Perhaps one of them will be a good costume for next year. Any one up for a Victorian Halloween Ball? Halloween costumes are great, but when I can blend costumes and historical costuming, I’m in heaven!
I do love a good pun, and this “Fan-cy” dress is absolutely fantabulous. Feathers and pleats and lace and ruffles, oh my! Although, this would be quite a bit of work to create, especially the central fan section of the skirt. That’s an awful lot of pleating and ruffling.
While “Amazon” generally inspires a vision more in line with Xena, Warrior Princess, this version is intriguing. The coloring is quite bland, however. Perhaps something completely ostentatious would be fun to create, especially now that we know Greek sculpture was brightly painted (Gods in Color Gallery Guide).
This flowery ensemble is darling, with the basket-weave bodice and the latticed skirt. Perhaps a large skeleton key could be carried and you could be Mary from the Secret Garden.
When one thinks of the Roman goddess Diana, a stola and palla might come to mind (or a very risqué nothing except her bow), but this “modern” take is quite intriguing. Fashioned similar to riding habits of the day, this dress shows urban hunting symbolism (with the horse racing-patterned petticoat). This type of costume appeals to me greatly: taking a mythological entity and interpreting that symbolism into the visual language of the modern world.
The makeup job/drawn face on this fashion plate scares the bejeezus out of me, but the idea is solid. The different patterns in this costume are wonderful. Wouldn’t it be fun to make up a whole gaggle of similar costumes based on Mother Goose’s tales and go about in a group?
I can’t say whether this approaches accurately historical or not, but the abundance of cleavage must have caused quite a stir if this was actually worn in the 1860s. That rounded line is boob, not material, from what I can tell. But aside from its scandalousness, I like this costume for its strange slit skirt with bloomers underneath, the striped material, the underbust bodice, and the plethora of patterns and materials.
What are you planning for Halloween this year? Do these inspire you, or you more the type to go with modern styles?