1760s Brunswick, 1778-9ish riding habit, 18th century, 18th century wigs, exhibitions, projects, travel

Back From the 18th Century

Phew!  With the first of what will probably be a few posts:

The Costume Accessories Symposium was faaabulous.  So many interesting research presentations, so many lovely people to meet.  Plus, chances to dress up and run around Colonial Williamsburg!

First, my outfits!  Everything came together relatively well.  I finished most of the habit shirt ruffles and cravat on the plane, although I didn’t have sleeve ruffles until day 2.

I had been planning to do cream bows on the Brunswick, but at the last minute came across some vintage blue ribbon in my stash, and had the genius idea to use that instead.  I was seriously not wanting to wear the Brunswick — I was worried I was going to look like a combination of Aunt Pittypat and a butterchurner.  Luckily, when I put it all together I actually quite liked it, and then when I put the hat on, I loved it.  Yay!

Friday night was an in-costume dinner at the King’s Arms, followed by a chamber music performance, organized by Barbee.  It was really lovely, as almost everyone was in costume, the food was good, and the music was gorgeous.  Both venues were only lit by candles — be still my beating heart!  And afterwards we had dessert at a local home.  I got to meet Abby (shout out:  I had no idea that wasn’t a wig!  We kept calling you “the girl with the fabulous wig,” guess we gotta revise that!) and talk rumps, and Gwendolyn and talk about her work at the Costume Design Center.  I wore my “this old thing” peach francaise.

Saturday was riding habit day.  I loved this outfit too, despite the ginormous wrinkle that developed at my bust point (WTF?).  I felt all sporting (in the 18th c. sense) and tailored, and it was fun to wear it with others in their habits(es) as well.  I wore the habit again for dinner on Monday night.

For some reason this picture makes me happy - I feel like an 18th c. woman on the Grand Tour, looking at antiquities!

I wore the same hat & wig with all of my outfits.  I really wanted to make one of the black hats with tons of feathers that I see in so many riding habit portraits; I was particularly lusting after Lady Worsley‘s hat.  Thanks to all of your good advice, I ended up getting the wool felt hat blank from JAS Townsend in the largest size they had, which as you can see isn’t large enough to really settle down on my wig as far as the hats in portraits, but it worked.  I did the most craptastic job shaping the brim — I couldn’t find anything in my house that was the right shape, so I used a series of bowls and just moved them around as I steamed the crap out of the hat.  Then I covered it in black feathers, some of which blew weird ways in the wind, but I finally figured out how to attach them so that by riding habit day, the hat was looking like what I wanted.

For the wig, I took apart one I had styled before.  I really wanted that particular style that you see around 1779-81 (example), which is somewhere between a pouf and a hedgehog.  I made a lower form than I normally do for a pouf, and ginormous curls.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the symposium and the exhibition!  In the meantime, you can see all of my photos on Flickr.

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  • Reply Maggie March 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Your costumes are completely fabulous, all of them! And I love the hair and hat! You look like you just stepped out of a painting! :-)

  • Reply Phil March 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    you look fabulous, Kendra! congrats!

  • Reply abby March 22, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    haha that’s ok! Almost everyone thought it was a wig (hair powder I guess?) that I’ve start stating everywhere there’s a picture that it’s my real hair (except for the long track in the back). Cause, let’s be honest, if it was a wig, I would have made it a lot bigger (cause bigger is almost always better… and I’m from Kentucky, I think big hair is in my blood) :)

    Anyways- it was great meeting you too & I hope to see you again!


  • Reply Mary March 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    We both enjoyed all your photos, and it reminded us of our honeymoon there (in costume of course,) 4 years ago! You look smashing, and everything you made is lovely~We have read everything about the symposium, and it sounded truly wonderful. We hope we can go next time. Bravo on the brunswick, etc,!
    Mary and Adam

  • Reply American Duchess March 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    LOVE! I’ve been waiting for you to get back and post, to see these fantastic new outfits. You never disappoint, Kendra!

  • Reply Trystan March 22, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Yay, photos!!!! You looked fabulous, as always. But apparently we all need grey wigs now, bec. your red & my black are just so unfashionable ;-)

  • Reply Tonia March 22, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I LOVE your riding habit! It’s fabulous. The color is perfect.

  • Reply Julie March 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I am so sorry I missed you in your costumes… I was only there on Thursday and Friday. You looked fabulous!!!

    One thing you might consider – a very faint misting with spray-in temporary hair color once you put the wig on, to blend your natural hair with it. I do this with one of my Harry Potter costumes and it works brilliantly.

  • Reply Lindsey Eastman March 22, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    The Brunswick and the riding habit are just too fabulous! I especially love the blue bows!

  • Reply Lauren March 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm


  • Reply Jen Thompson March 23, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I didn’t think it was possible, but you have outdone yourself this time! I ADORE both of your new gowns! I’m the type of freak who prefers tailored stuff over froofroo, so I totally swooned when I saw these. And your wig and hat are absolutely perfect. Great job! :)

  • Reply Meilin March 23, 2011 at 5:28 am

    You look *fabulous* dahling! :-)

    Lovely outfits, cool design, awesome execution. The hat and red wig really take it over the top.

  • Reply Hallie March 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Kendra, It was great to meet you and all the “California Girls’, please come out to the East Coast again! My regards to all in your group, you looked Fabulous!

  • Reply Mae March 24, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Really really fantastic. The habit is my favourite, it’s wonderful.

  • Reply Kate in England March 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Love, love, love. And the hair is awesome too.

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