The Pink Silk Corset Dream
Almost 10 years ago, I started reenacting the American Civil War after falling in love with the clothing of the era. I was just starting High School, and my mother was kind enough to take me to events. One summer we attended the Antietam battle reenactment. It was a huge event that year. I remember trudging around in the heat lugging our chairs until we found the other ladies from our unit who had camped out at the event. It was so hot and ridiculous just to sit all day in camp in our pretty dresses. So after awhile we headed over to the sutler area to spy out all of the best recreations. When we started reenacting we tried not to spend too much on our clothing, but I have always had a love of pretty things, so we did portray middle to upper class women with nice silk bonnets and parasols. Mmmm...silk.
This excursion to the sutlers has long been a cherished memory of mine. There I saw my first drawn bonnet and fell in love! Now I own a beautiful royal blue silk original of my own! And I'd love to reproduce it someday soon. I remember studying that beautiful bonnet, trying to memorize every detail of it. While I was in the shop a young lady in her 20s entered the tent. She was beautiful. And, she was wearing a camel colored wool reproduction of the 'Soutache' trim dress from 'Who Wore What?'! Do you know the one I mean? That stunning, absolutely fabulous dress with soutache trim all over it and a matching sash (yeah, she had the sash, too!). Wow, can you say inspiration? I remember overhearing her talk about a pink silk corset that she had recently made. Sometimes the things we imagine are far better than the originals, but I'm sure that her reproduction was stunning. The beautiful reproductions worn by that 20-something young lady have always inspired me. I wanted to be her! I wanted to be able to sew a beautiful silk corset, fashionable dresses...and she had the guy, too! That night at the dance she appeared in a stunning pale green silk dress. It was delicately trimmed with flowers and had a waistline that was straight across (just like Jo's red ballgown in 'Little Women'). She was gorgeous, and accompanied by a handsome young gentleman dressed in a black wool jacket, pants, and top hat. How lovely!
When I'm surrounded by people who care little for authentic clothing I reminisce on that girl and her stunning wardrobe. I've always secretly hoped to know who she was. Where was she from? Is she one of my peers on the Authentic-Campaigner forum. Did her dress really look as lovely as I remember? Wouldn't it be fun to know!
Working on my own silk corset has reminded me of the pink silk corset. :)
What experiences, sights, or people have inspired you in reproducing historical clothing?