Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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Coco2019: Our Lore Olympus Cosplay

Back again with more sharing from Costume College 2019!

Each year there is a pool party on Thursday night to kick off the Costume College weekend. The theme for the pool party this year was "Garments of the Galaxy," which could mean any number of things, and opened up of creative opportunities. There were Star Wars and Star Trek characters, nebulous vintage dresses, Dr. Who and Marvel outfits, and so much more.

Somewhat on a whim, the AD crew decided to go as characters from a favorite webtoon called "Lore Olympus." (This was Nicole's fault; she was going to low-key go as Hecate and not tell anybody, but she let it slip at dinner one night, and it was all downhill from there).

We did a makeup test a week before we left for Coco. It got weird...
Lore Olympus, by Rachel Smythe, is a creative and beautifully illustrated re-telling and re-interpretation of the myth of Persephone and Hades, along with many more of the Greek gods and goddesses and parts of their stories. The characters are dressed in modern clothing but each have bold, colorful complexions, making parts of this cosplay very easy and other parts much more challenging.

Chrissy working on her Persephone makeup before the pool party at Coco - it legit took us longer to get into this cosplay than ANY of our historical outfits.
The clothing was easy to find, much of it from our own closets. The makeup was on the complex side (well, for those of us uninitiated into the magical world of theatrical maquillage). We used Mehron Makeup Paradise AQ Face & Body Paint cake makeup in about three different shades for each color, to do the base, shadows, and highlights.

Ready to go!
Additionally, pretty heavy eye and brow makeup, various glittery products for cheekbones, and strong lip colors completed the transformations. For limbs, Abby and Chrissy wore opaque colored tights and applied the Mehron makeup to their arms. Abby went a little further and dusted herself with gold glitter, which promptly covered everything she touched, her entire dress, and began somehow multiplying in her palms.

Chrissy as Persephone, rocking her own short, curly, pink hair. The dress was a cheapy bought online, the cape made for the occasion.
Chrissy and Nicole wore their own hair (yes, Chrissy's hair is pink!), but Abby and I went the wig route. My go-to place for cosplay wigs is Arda Wigs, which offers a ton of colors. They're very easy to dye and style, too.

Abby rocked it as Hera in a a caped dress, golden wig, and tons of glitter.
For Hades I didn't have much choice (almost everything on the Arda website was sold out - con season, yo), so I didn't get the skin-top mostly-there white wig I was hoping for, but I made it work with a Kyle Classic in pure white. I have minimal experience in restyling wigs, but Arda has a ton of helpful tutorials on their Youtube channel, and I've done a smidge of this-and-that over the years with dyeing and re-shaping synthetic hair. Hades' hair is a tricky style for a full-coverage, hard-front wig - really short in back and up off the forehead in front - so I ended up with kindof a feminized version, which worked just fine short of dyeing and cutting my own hair. I mixed blue-grey acrylic paint into rubbing alcohol and brush it on with a toothbrush, to dye the white hair and give the wig some dimension. Then I cut it (experience cutting a dude's hairstyle: 0) and shaped it by clipping sections into place and hitting them with the garment steamer, which works like *magic*!

Upper left and center is the Kyle wig right out of the package, and lower left, center, and the rightmost is where it ended up with dyeing, cutting, and steaming.
Short of going on and on and on about how much fun we had and how awesome it felt to be blue all night, here's a short little video of how this all came together:

Here are some more photos. Why the heck not:
Hera and Persephone a bit at odds, perhaps.

Hecate and Hades - really hard to hold a straight face when you're blue.

Hades and Persephone - okay, so none of the angst of the comic characters, but c'mon...this was too fun!
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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

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Costume College 2019

American Duchess crew in 18th century attire - Friday night at Costume College 2019
Another year, another fabulous Costume College!

If you're unfamiliar with Costume College, it's a 5-day costuming convention in Woodland Hills, California, at the end of July each year. During the day there are all sorts of classes for historical dress and cosplay, and in the evenings there are social events. There's also a marketplace, costume display, and meetups. You can learn more about Costume College here.

This year the crew - Abby, Nicole, Chrissy, and myself - did a few group costumes. At the Thursday night pool party we all dressed as characters from the webtoon Lore Olympus (read it. do it now.), which involved a lot of body paint, wigs, and general chicanery.

Our group "Lore Olympus" cosplay - Chrissy as Persephone, Lauren as Hades, Abby as Hera, and Nicole as Hecate
On Friday, after classes, we all dressed in late 18th century attire (are these our everyday clothes now?) and did a book signing for "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty."

The #ADBeauty book sold out at the book signing on Friday night at Costume College! Whoo!
Saturday was GALA! The Time Traveler's Gala is always the high point of Costume College, everyone's chance to wear their best and boldest outfit of the year. Chrissy, Abby, and I represented the #GigotGirlGang in our utterly silly 1830s, and Nicole was resplendent in 1920s velvet and silk.

Lauren, Chrissy, and Abby rockin' the early 1830s at the gala on Saturday night.

Nicole slays in 1920s velvet and satin at the Costume College Gala, 2019
By Sunday we were all a bit fried (to be expected after a night of sleeve puffs, scooters, and shenanigans), and we had a nice low-key business lady's class, a few naps, and a final hurrah at the Trunk Show.

Abby, Lauren, and Cynthia of Redthreaded answering question at the costume business lady's panel on Sunday at Costume College.
All in all it was an epic event, as it is every year. We got a chance to see friends from all over and meet lots of new ones, and we're already looking forward to next year. I have some posts to do on our specific outfits coming up, but for now we hope you enjoy this short behind-the-scenes look at Costume College 2019. <3
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Friday, July 19, 2019


A Quick Ladies' Waistcoat

A very simple ladies' waistcoat in linen, lined with silk - linen shirt, Walker Slater tweed trousers, a silk floppy bow tie, and saddle shoes from
When I was in Scotland, there was a Walker Slater ladies' shop right down the steps from our rooms. For those who don't know Walker Slater, they're purveyors of tweeds and waistcoats and trousers and flatcaps and cardis and all things wonderfully, wonderfully dapper. I've been following them on Instagram for years, so of course I partook of the splendor when in Edinburgh.

But coming back, I got off the plane to 90 degree Nevada heat. So my tweedy things have gone in the closet until the 'Ember months and I turn back to linen, linen, and linen.

I bought a large quantity of sand-colored suit-weight linen in LA last year, intending it for lady-menswear pieces of a Regency bend (inspired by Zack Pinsent), but the fabric is so versatile and gorgeous that I can't decide fully what summer togs of what era it should be. An easy first step, though, was a summer waistcoat.

Laying out SImplicity 7376. Waistcoats are a great way to use small scraps of fabric.
I used Simplicity 7376 from 1976 for this very simple design. It's just two pieces - front and back - shaped with darts. I did a little customization with a silk lining, false pocket tabs (I'm lazy), and fashion fabric facings to give it a more professional appearance and I'm very happy with how that came out.

The pattern did not have facings like this, so I created them myself. The lining silk here had been cut into a blouse pattern that I never made, so I repurposed and re-cut for the linings. I just love this deco pattern on the silk!

The waistcoat in progress, after bag lining it, which was not a great method tbh - next time I'll just set it in by hand like with 18th century construction.
I bag-lined the vest, which I realized again was a mistake. In proper tailoring, linings are set in my hand, and I really should have done so this time too. It was honestly more of a struggle to bag line even this simple garment, and I ended up going back and prick stitching the bottom and armscye edges just to get things to lay right. Note to self for the future.

Turning up the lining and hemming it at the bottom - I later went back and redid this because I did not make the ease fold and the outer fabric hung oddly. It's a tailoring trick, hard to explain, but I'll try to show it and other bits in my next tailoring project coming up.

Test fit - everything seemed fine at this point, but the waistcoat actually came out a little too tight once the buttons were on, so I let it out an inch.
I also thought I'd do some lovely hand-worked, contrast button holes, but they turned out terribly! I have very little hand button hole experience and my goodness, they were truly an abomination! Along with those horrors, the waistcoat came out a little bit too tight, so the following morning I ripped out and re-did the button holes on the machine, and let the side seams out a half inch each side, which resulted in a much, much better fit and finish.

Incredibly horrible button holes done by hand. Just awful!

Better button holes done by machine and with matching thread. They're not perfect, just better.
Now it's done, I've worn it a couple times, and I really love the little thing. I so seldom make everyday clothing, even though I hardly ever find what I want in stores or online. I'm pleased with how crisp and lovely the fabric is and I've already starting cutting out an 1890s-inspired jacket to wear with the new waistcoat.

The finished waistcoat before I went back and ripped the button holes out and let the side seams out. I hate fully finishing something only to tear into it again the next day - it takes a lot of willpower to make corrections and I usually have a little tantrum before I do it...but I'm always glad I buck up and finish it correctly.
Hooray for simple stash-busting projects!

There are, of course, things about the final waistcoat that I'm "meh" about, but I learned for next time. I love wearing waistcoats and I definitely plan to make more, so now I have an adjusted pattern for next time.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

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1780-81 The Glasgow Polonaise Sacque Jacket - Done!

My sacque jacket from the back, with the beautiful hanging pleats
Last I updated about this jacket, we'd just set the shoulder straps and I had a bit of finishing to do before our trip to Scotland.
Working on the Isabella Mactavish Fraser gown - photo graciously provided by Atelier Nostlagia
Well now we're back from Scotland and I can finally share some photos of the finished jacket! I wore it three times - once for an impromptu photoshoot in Prince's Street Gardens, and then both days of the gown-in-a-weekend project at National Museums of Scotland.

The jacket was very comfortable to wear and I'm so glad it was cotton because it was *hot* in the museum. My shift, stays, and jacket were all soaked at the end of each day, but quick drying (yay, linen and linen linings!).

The jacket hangs open in the front, with a false waistcoat stitched in at the side-back seams. The front drape is shaped with pleats at the side and the front edges.

I wore my Penny River hand-embroidered stockings (Etsy), red Dunmore shoes, and green Charlotte buckles by Sign of the Grey Horse (Etsy) 
I had a chance to see the original jacket on display at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow when we nipped up there for the day. It was like seeing an old friend, except I could also observe everything I got wrong on my version! Ah, but that's the point of the exercise, I learn about historic construction, and the why's and how's of it.

The original jacket at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow - it was such a treat to see this!
I'm going to wear this jacket again to Costume College at the end of this month. I plan to add some cord and button to hold the cuffs up, but other than that and a washing, it's ready to go. If you're going to Costume College, we'll see you there!

And now we know why it's called a "pet en l'air" :-P
Photos are by Abby Cox, naturally <3
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Friday, July 12, 2019

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18th Century Hairstyles for Long Hair

Jenny's long hair was plenty to go over the ski slope hair cushion.
Nearly as often as we receive questions about doing 18th century hairstyles for short hair, we see the question come up for long hair. Can you do a frizzed hairstyle with long hair? How long does your hair have to be to do the tall donut styles? Is there such a thing as hair that is *too* long?

In "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" we cover the 1750s through the mid 1790s, and for a greater portion of that timeframe, shorter hair *in front* was the fashion, particularly with the frizzed 1780s hairstyles.

In the 1770s, though, very long hair was preferred for the very tall styles simply because you needed that much hair to get up and over the cushion. The bigger the cushion, the more hair (yours or someone else's) you need.

Laurie has very, very long and fine hair. Once pomaded and powdered, her hair was double the size and easily put up into the donut hair style with plenty left over for top curls, buckles, and chignon all made of her own hair.
Both Laurie and Jenny had quite long hair for the 1770s "Beignet" and "Ski Alpin" styles, but truth be told, Laurie's hair didn't need to be that long. So long as your hair can reach up and into the donut hole, you can do the tall coiffure, and remember...your donut or ski slope cushion don't need to be as large as the ones we make. Hair just past the shoulders can do a perfectly lovely "Beignet" with a scaled-down cushion. Add more height with a pouf, cap, hat, and feathers.

Hair that is very long - waist-length or booty-length also works perfectly well with the 1770s styles. Because of the hole in both cushion types, excess hair can be rolled up and stuffed down in there, or pinned within the hole and the ends curled to sit atop, like we did with Laurie's hair.

Cynthia's hair was just past her shoulders and was plenty to create the sculptural late 1760s hairstyle. Because of the shaped buckles and rolls of this coiffure, very long hair also works - just add more buckles!
But what about the short, curly styles? These are definitely more a challenge for long hair, but several costumer friends have done beautiful coiffures with their quite long locks by using the toupee hair piece. The trick is to curl your long hair all over, then work the front back and through the toupee hair piece (which should be short and tightly curled or crape'd, like we show in the book), pinning as needed. Your own hair forms the long chignon down the back. (Particular credit goes to Taylor of Dames a la Mode and Lauren Marks, who named her toupee Fred).

Jasmine's 3C hair was very easily pulled over the grub hair cushion to create the early 1780s style with all her own hair. This is a good option for long hair that you've curled or crimped.
As always, we encourage you to make the hair pieces in the book and then play around with your own hair, pomading and powdering it, curling it, and finding what works best for you. It may be that the 1780s crape'd hairstyles is just never going to happen, but the early 1780s transitional "Chenille" hairstyle is a perfect fit.

For more information and, of course, the how-to's for all of these hairstyles, cushions, hairpieces, products, etc. check out our book "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" on Amazon,, and other major booksellers.
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Bastille Day Sale!

It's time for our annual mid-Summer Bastille Day Sale!

We have looooooots of lovely historical shoes on sale this year:

Theda Edwardian Oxfords - $145 ($165)

Vienna Victorian Congress Boots - $160 ($180)

Amelie Satin Edwardian Pumps - $75 ($120)

Dashwood Regency Slippers - $65 ($99)

Dunmore 18th Century Wool Shoes - $120 ($155)

Eliza Early Victorian Shoes - $99 ($145)

Mansfield Regency Boots - $150 ($199)

Moliere Edwardian Pumps - $120 ($160)

Tissot Victorian Pumps - $80 ($155)

Balmoral Civil War Boots - $150 ($180)

The sale lasts until all of these are sold out - we're low on many styles/sizes, so don't wait. We will NOT be restocking any of these!

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