August 5, 2016

Romantic Redux

For a woman who wore a buzz cut for 4+ years, I have become more than a little obsessed with 1830s hair.


While staring down the gauntlet of a rapidly approaching Costume College weekend, I realized that I simply wasn't in the mood to run myself ragged trying to finish new outfits. Instead, I focused on spiffing up some old ones with fabulous hair and accessories.


Like many historical costumers, I used to loathe the 1830s. Since then, I've figured out the secret: go big or go home. If you're attempting to out-ridiculous the original Romantic era, you're pretty much doing it right. The 1830s simply do not accept any sort of half-assing it.

Like you wouldn't make this exact face.

Apologies are in order, because I didn't take a single photo of the construction of the hair pieces. It was based it on this fashion print. I carved down a styrofoam disk to form the ring structure, then wrapped 24" hair wefts around it. A touch of glue at the end of each weft was enough to keep the hair in place. The ring is stitched to a buckram base so that I have a way to bobby pin it to my head. The rest is just various 3 and 6 strand braids arranged in various loops, also stitched to the base, or to the ring as needed. I clipped the buckram base down as closely as I could, then pinned it atop my head. I French-braided my own hair from the nape of my neck upwards, then wrapped my braid around the base to disguise the join.

I'm taking it off here, but you get the idea.

While I usually use my own hair for the front curls that are so common in this era, this time I purchased two of these bang extensions and curled them up ahead of time. SO MUCH EASIER. I'm never using anything else again.

From there it was simply a matter of adding flowers, a butterfly, and a bird. If anything, there's not enough STUFF in it. I need to add more ribbons and flipperies. The 1830s did not skimp.


I've also come to accept that I may have been a bit harsh on the pink dress in my last post. I wore it again with a few improvements for the 2016 Costume College Gala and fell in love with it for the first time since I made it. The inside may still be a hot mess, but the outside is looking good!


To be fair, when I originally made this dress two years ago, it was a last minute compromise. I needed an 1830s frock for an event, but  knew I didn't have time or cash to make the dress I wanted. I threw this together in less than a week. I used a reject sari that had moldered in the stash for years because it turned out to be super synthetic and the complete opposite of what I thought I had bought. The sleeves were the first wearable prototype of a pattern I was trying to create, and fell short of the mark I was aiming for. I took every shortcut I could while making the dress; the seams were so badly finished that it barely survived its first outing. On its debut there was no sash, not enough petticoats, and my hair was kinda sad; all of this contributed to my dislike of the dress.

Even when I fixed some of the shortcomings, added a sash, better hair and wore the much improved version out this last spring, I couldn't shake the disappointment that accompanied its first outing years previously. Though the dress was vastly changed, that original discouragement carried over to my post about it.

Flash forward to this last weekend: I made a new bum pad that worked wonders, re-vamped my Ugly Puffer (see HistoricalGarment's instagram photo of American Duchess and my scandalously unhistorical puffers) and worked up that FAB new hairdo. The low hotel lighting mellowed the shiny metallic-poly shine of my sari into a lovely soft sheen. I listened to my friends, who loved the dress (thanks again Lauren!). I forgave my sleeves for not holding the sharp pleats I originally ironed into them, and simply reveled in the ridiculousness of the poofy wonderfulness.  AND IT WAS AWESOME.

The sash, undergarments, hair and
ATTITUDE make all the difference.

Sometimes a few tweaks are all it takes to turn a disaster into a success. Sometimes it takes a while to move past perceived shortcomings. Sometimes you've got to just let it go.

And sometimes you just need really fucking awesome hair.

49 comments:

  1. That is some AMAZING hair, I can`t even comprehend it. And that's so awesome that you were able to bring that dress to where you love it.

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    1. Thank you! I now have more hope for other less-loved pieces in my closet.

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  2. I love everything about this, so ridiculously awesome and fantastic!

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  3. Wow, amazing and I love your hair construction.

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  4. Blubbering with admiration over here :)

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  5. You looked amazing. AMAZING. AMAZEBALLS. AMAZEHAIRBALLS. Yup, still one of my favorite gowns you've made. Up there with the lattice dress. I hear you on the feeling kindof meh or even "poo poo" about a gown and then wearing it with all the proper hoozits-whatsits and you feelings on it shifting. That's a good subject for a blog post, as I think we all go through that. I certainly had it with my yellow dress, which was questionable right up to the moment Maggie did my hair and I put the necklace and earrings from Dames a la Mode on.

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    1. Your yellow dress was EPIC. I was even more floored the next day when you changed the whole look with different accessories. All those extra bits are SO IMPORTANT.

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    2. I'm on this boat too, your pink gown and hair was PERFECTION but I also suffered the effing hate this dress with my white court gown but with the hair and accessories it felt like the most elegant sack ever.

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    3. So we've all learned a lesson! :P

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  6. Well it really works. Have you ever thought of having a real portrait painted? You've really captured the look

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    1. Thanks! Haha, I think the closest I'll get is a painting filter over a photograph, but what a fun idea!

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  7. "f you're attempting to out-ridiculous the original Romantic era, you're pretty much doing it right."
    Love it!!! Love the hair!

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  8. I was standing behind you in line to go down the Red Carpet, so I had an up-close view, and was just in awe of how gorgeous your dress was! You did an amazing job on both the dress and the wacky hair that helps pull everything together : )
    *(The other) Christina

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    1. Thanks so much. You looked fabulous! Go Christinas!

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  9. Simply divine hair! And the dress is wonderful too with all your tweaks. I don't have patience for tweaks after the first wearing of a costume so admire those who do. And the best thing you said - attitude makes all the difference! :-)
    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you! I usually don't have the patience either, but now I think it might be worth pushing myself past it and giving things another shot.

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  10. Best over-the-top hair I've seen this year! Congratulations!

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  11. It's fantastic! I still think the 1830's aesthetic is horrible, but I like it when people re-create impossibly ridiculous things!

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    1. Oh yeah, it's definitely an acquired taste!

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  12. I am also not at fan of that time...but oh this dress makes me want to go full out ridiculous! I love Crazy hair and hats! I also need to make myself an ugly puffer stat!

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    1. Oh man, the ugly puffer is where it's at! I swiped the idea from Lauren at American Duchess. Rules are it can't be pretty. ;)

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  13. That is seriously FAnTasTic!!! Great job. I adore the dress as well.

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  14. This is the best. Seriously, Hair and dress envy for days!

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  15. I work as a fancy lady in 1836 at a living history park and dang. I love fake curls and puffy sleeves. You could come to my Christmas Soiree anytime!

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    1. Awesome, you get to do silly hair and puffy sleeves all the time!

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  16. Your hair was flippin rad to see in person!! And I loved the dress! The embroidery on it was fab! Everything looked great!

    Caroline

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    1. Much thanks! Can't take credit for the embroidery, but that's why old saris are so much fun to use!

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  17. Awesome is the correct word for this. For me, what you have done is make me think of these hair styles (that could be ridiculous) as being quite decorative and an art form in and of themselves. I see them as "Headdresses" like hats and tiaras, etc. more than simply ridiculous. A form of expression. You look good. (That is an understatement). You are correct - attitude counts. You can't be self conscious and carry these hairstyles off. (I had to select "anonymous" because I don't know what the other options mean or how to use them). You did a fantastic job.

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    1. Much thanks! You're entirely correct- hair like this is very much a Headdress, capital H.

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  18. Fake bangs. You just had to lead me there? I soooo need 1830's in my life.

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  19. Brilliant! The weird 1830s presented in the very best way :)

    Sabine

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    1. Thank you! The weirder, the better with 1830s. :)

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  20. Oh my giddy aunt how I love your hair!!! The '30s make me so ridiculously happy with their crazy silliness, over the top awesomeness, and you have captured the look and spirit perfectly!! Since my hair had grown out I can't wear my '30s wig anymore, so I'm going to have to make pieces. Your pieces have become a great inspiring!! Brava!!! Oh... And your dress totally rocks!!!
    Blessings!
    Gina

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    1. Thank you! I'm finding that hair pieces are just the best thing ever. Easier to make and wear than wigs, plus easily changeable or swapped. On another night, I wore one of the curly side pieces on the top front of my head as bangs for an 1890s look. Worked a treat!

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    2. Ok.... That's extra good to know as I don't have natural bangs and sometimes Queen Alexandra fringe would come in super handy.....

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  21. You are the best. Crazy and thus the best. 1830s crew FTW!

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    1. Says the other crazy best lady. Your Lady Tremaine was AWESOME!

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  22. Quite honestly, your hair just blew me away and I am reminded of Kendras comment about how hair of that era just HAS to be ridonkulus to be right. Well, you nailed it! As someone with the genes for only baby fine rat hair, I loved how you solved your bang problems with "Snap On Hair". Your "do" was so perfect you could teach this at Costume College. Having been on the committee for 12 out of the lat 14 years, I am serious. Your tips and tricks are worth sharing and I bet you'd have a great class full. I don't have other accounts I can post this under, so it has to be titled Anonymous, but this is Karen Lavoie from the Check In Committee. You looked great--and if you re-look at Wives and Daughters again, like we all have, it is just spot on--congrats!

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    1. Thank you so much! I had planned to send proposals for two bustle classes, but you're right, a 1830s hair class would be AWESOME! Hadn't even occurred to me before. I'll certainly propose one when the time comes. Thanks!

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  23. How did you curl the bangs so perfectly? What did you use since it's fake hair? I'm dressing Fanny Mendelssohn next week and the actress has very thin layered hair! I bought those bangs you suggested and they look like they are going to be GREAT. Thanks!

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    1. I rolled them up in curlers and dunked them in hot water for a few seconds, then let them dry. Steam also works. The trick is to not let it heat long enough to melt!

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