Back in February, or maybe even before, my friend JJ called me. He told me on no uncertain terms that I would be going to the Greenfield Village Civil War Remembrance weekend, he would get me a participant button, and that I would be going to the ball held for the participants there. Under normal circumstances, I might have told him to get a life, but tentative plans were already forming amidst my group of friends to do just such a thing, so I dove head-first into Civil War costuming with my first project being a ballgown.
Remind me not to do that again.
This is yet another of those costumes where I was entirely dubious about it while it was in the construction phase...in fact, right up until I was wearing it at the event for which it was intended. My problem is that I'm just generally not-excited about "fancy" clothes, be it in real life or history. This dress wasn't actually "finished," by the time I was thinking about getting dressed for the ball. I had just gotten bored of it and stopped working on it after getting the bertha attached. So when I showed up at the event, I had a white dress with blue sleeve trim and a bertha collar...and that's it.
Because my friends are ingenious and have a more refined design sense than I do, I did not go to the ball with a plain dress. I managed to manufacture a couple of bows for my shoulders and a little cockade for the front of my collar using bias strips of my leftover blue taffeta and a suspender button that Mike had popped off his trousers earlier on the day.
Everything you see there below the collar was applied by Mike McCarty just pre-ball, and is held together with dozens of straight pins. It looks fabulous, however, and I got a ton of compliments from all sorts of people--men and women--at the actual ball.
My hair was similarly jury-rigged; I haphazardly folded one bias strip into a little fan of loops, tied it together with another strip, and looped the whole thing around my hairpiece. It's all held in with one--count 'em, one--bobby pin. (Except the hairpiece, which was basically attached to my head with steel reinforced bridge cables.)