What to wear?

I cannot remember the last time I made myself a dress. Better yet, I cannot remember the last time there was an occasion to wear one to. And now with the opportunity to attend the ALHFAM 2013 conference in my lap, I’ve got reason! The Presidential dinner will be hosted in a c.1917 ballroom and period dress is requested. All dressed attendees will be asked to participate in a period fashion parade! [Whoop-Whoop!] So what to wear? Regency? Bustle? Romantic?I would LOVE to whip up something 1840s style!

1840dinner earlyvicfashion



I just LOVE these American gowns from the Met collection!

However, I am unsure if I will be flying to the conference or driving. If I am flying, there is the issue of baggage. Is it feasible to pack a week’s worth of modern clothing plus all the foundation garments needed for a proper 1840s era silhouette AND meet the one checked bag rule? Hmmm. Not sure about that.

So, what about using the era of the ballroom as inspiration? Last year marked the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. And Downton Abbey is all the rage right now. So maybe a gown between 1910-1925 would be fun.The conference is in the middle of June. I’m thinking something light and feminine and summery.


1912a 1912b 1912c


How can one go wrong with a”Happiness” dress?

Jeanne Lanvin (FR) is one of my favorite 1920s designers. I am contemplating taking a leap and going WAY out of my comfort zone with one of the gowns below (gown at back by Jeanne Lanvin/ gown at front unknown maker). Lanvin is known for her ultra feminine style, her delicate embroidery work, and striking color combinations.


This is a period I have not had much chance to explore and is really unchartered territory. Oh, but what an opportunity to play with the color palette!

So it’s between the Lanvin gown above and the short sleeve 1847 Met dress. What to wear? What to wear? Thinking…Sketching…. Ideas formulating…..

To be continued…

About Susan

Hi! My name is Susan and I am a historian, seamstress, teacher, mother, and wife. My passion for history has manifested itself in the art of recreating clothing from different periods of time. Growing up in the American South, I am heavily schooled in the art of recreating clothing from the 19th century. After nearly a decade of immersing myself primarily in the Victorian period, I found the need to branch out and explore other periods of time. However, it is my connection with the American South and the clothing of rural America that continues to be the driving force behind my designs.