Do you ever watch historical movies and wish we dressed like that today? Or wished, as I do, that we dressed something like that... cherry-picking the aspects we like and eschewing the cumbersome or ugly parts? Well, as the genius behind xkcd reminds us, we are grown-ups, and we can decide what that means. And for me, it means I don't have to settle for cobbling together outfits from the remnants of only the last few decades. I can make and wear whatever pleases me. There's no law on the books that says I have to look like everyone else in my decade! So I'd like to begin a sartorial art project... to look at my favorite times and places, and use them as inspiration for clothes that are thoroughly my own. I'll start with the Elizabethan era, because it's got a ton of embroidery and handwork, and lots of layers. I figure it'll be nice to wear in the winter, but I need to start in the spring if I want it to be done in time.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE ELIZABETHAN ERA
First, I should point out that my inspiration is mostly from portraits of the ruling classes and movies about Queen Elizabeth I, so there's a lot of ornamentation and luxury involved. The basic garments would have been the same for the lower classes, but the upper classes during Elizabeth's reign evinced an extravagant material culture, as England gained in wealth and prestige through trade and piracy, and the courtiers competed to please the eye of the queen with their finest clothes. Therefore their materials were richer.
The layering that was the norm means that I can pick and choose layers which I like, and incorporate them into my regular outfits. For instance, there was a kind of cape/partlet for women which covered the neck, shoulders, and top of the bosom (with room, of course, for the ruff to show), which I think makes a neat alternative to a shawl or scarf.
Everyone loves to hate ruffs... those oversized, cumbersome, silly accoutrements that made courtiers look like dogs in cones-- except that I-- I do, actually, like them. Maybe I don't need a cartwheel ruff, but something larger than a Rococco choker and smaller than the giant wings of the Rainbow Portrait would do fine! I love the layers of lace and sheer linen, and I want to know how they pleated them like that.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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