Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Abs of Steel – Really, I Mean It

I gain fifteen pounds every night this week, donning my 1840's Victorian ballgown for our dance concert. Would you like to see how it all works?

Undergarments first. This item is called a "combination" because it combines the top (chemise) and bottom (drawers) into one piece of clothing. It's not technically correct for the era, because they were two separate items of underwear until the 1870's. However, the combinations are much more convenient for backstage and quick changes, and the audience won't be seeing them anyway.


Next, the corset. My waist size is the same as before I put it on, but it changes the wearer's shape from the natural oval cross section at the waist to something more cylindrical. The corset is also a true foundation garment – a kind of architectural element that supports and distributes the weight of the gown across its spiral steel bones. So yes, I do literally have abs of steel while wearing this costume.


I'm almost five pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant, but either three years of not wearing Victorian clothes has made me forget the restricted feeling, or the pregnancy expanded my ribcage. Breathing was noticeably more difficult the first rehearsal back in the gown. By tonight though, it's not such a big deal.

Then we add the petticoat. Mine is layers and layers of tulle under an eyelet cover.


I originally had the petticoat made to wear under my wedding gown, also an 1840's style ballgown. I added a ribbon for my "something blue," and I've left it there for the fond memories. The eyelet fabric has turned slightly pink from years of wearing it under my big red dress.


Speaking of big red dresses, here's the skirt. It's a red-blue shot silk dupioni with blue silk trim. Dupioni is a crisp silk, so that it holds shape instead of being floppy. A "shot" silk means that the threads are one color in one direction and another color in the perpendicular direction, giving it a spectacular sheen. My gown looks mostly red, but when the fabric moves, the blue threads add to the depth.


Now, the bodice of my Victorian ballgown. Well, one of my Victorian ballgowns. I'll write about the others sometime later. If you live in Northern California and you're interested in a custom vintage costume, let me know and I'll hook you up with my costume designer. She rocks.


A sleeve detail.


The ringlets and flowers that I pin in my hair.


No outfit is complete without matching slippers.


The end result:

15 comments:

Lara said...

you rock. i have all this stuff too, and yet, you still rock. :)

alyndabear said...

It's BEAUTIFUL! That's a lot of work.. but I love it. Classically beautiful!

Damsel said...

Wow. That's so cool. Thanks!

Suzanne said...

I'm amazed that you can even walk in such am ensemble, let alone dance!

Mir said...

Yeah, what Suzanne said. I'd probably collapse from heat exhaustion 5 minutes after putting it on.

wayabetty said...

Double WOW Lady M! Look at you! Stunning in that outfit and the move! I have two left feet so anyone can do that gets a "I'm not worthy" bow from me!

Bon said...

wow. wow.

all that, and you managed to lift yourself off the ground.

my hat (let's imagine it's a vintage bonnet, shall we?) goes off to you. and you're beautiful, Lady M.

Pendullum said...

Beautiful...and you look lighter than air!!!

SassyBelle said...

AMAZING! That's fantastic! You look SOOO pretty! Goodness gracious, woman! And you say you're not a girl. Bwahaha.

ewe are here said...

Wow. Amazing dress!

Lady M said...

Thank you, ladies! I feel much lighter tonight, not having to wear it all. :)

mayberry said...

Gorgeous - thank you for the backstage peek! Love the final photo especially.

Magpie said...

Awesome.

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Incredible. You are simply incredible, my friend.

Gurukarm (@karma_musings) said...

Couldn't resist the title of your post (got here from your comment on TheBloggess's Traveling Red Dress post :-) )

I got to the end of your post and just thought, oh my god, you are BEAUTIFUL, girl! I LOVE that you can move like that in all those clothes, and just ROCK that dress... Go you!!