I didn’t start out as a fashion geek. As a kid, I was more interested in how my clothes felt than in what they looked like, and I took pride in not being “one of those girls” who saves all her money to spend on new clothing and fancy shoes. Oh, how times have changed.
For one thing, I became interested in the way clothing communicates. By seeing the way someone dresses, we know at least a few things about how they want to be seen, and by taking advantage of that fact we can influence how we are seen by others. I also developed a better sense of what clothing was pleasing to me, whether visually or in how I felt while wearing it. I started learning how to dress in ways that made me feel strong and confident. As I improved in my skill at finding Emma-approved clothing, I started to notice clothing more and more, and when I was fourteen years old I found the one picture that pushed me down the rabbit hole into the world of historical fashion. That picture was the cover illustration to the Penguin Classics edition of Little Women.
From then on, I was in awe.
I tried my best to recreate the images of beautiful old-fashioned clothes, but my sewing skills were mostly relegated to pillowcases and pincushions. I was in over my head. I tried to buy a replica costume from a Chinese tailor, but it came out looking like a costume dress, made of satin polyester with a drooping collar and a padded bust. I wore it to Halloween anyway, but I knew it was just a start.
In the years since, both my knowledge and skill have improved greatly. I’ve researched as much as I can about historical styles, techniques, and everything else I can think of, and built up a library of books and images about the fashions I love most. Now that my sewing skills are finally at the point where I can feel confident in making my own reproductions, I’m taking a leap and starting my own historical sewing journey!
My focus and interests are primarily Western fashions from about the 1700s to 1918, plus a bit of mid-20th-century styles. I also hope to devote some attention to non-Western clothing, which I have come to appreciate especially as I have lived overseas and been introduced to the incredible clothing histories of other cultures. Some of my favorite styles of clothing are listed below:
Edwardian (1901-1918) (Late Edwardian is my absolute favorite)
photograph of the actress Lily Elsie
Regency and Late Georgian (1800-1820)
dress owned by Princess Charlotte, read more about it here
1850s dress in striped silk brocade, with those fabulous pagoda sleeves
1950s (plus late 40s and early 60s)
that perfect fit-and-flare silhouette
American Colonial era (1750s-1770s in particular)
1750s robe a l’anglaise, unusually bereft of embroidery but in a lovely color