GBVS Newport Weekend 2022, Part II (Mansion Tours)

One of the add-ons to the GBVS Newport Weekend in 2022 was the opportunity to visit a number of the mansions for tours. I took advantage of this and visited The Breakers, Rosecliff, Marble House, and Chateau-Sur-Mer.

The Breakers
One of the grandest of the Newport mansions, The Breakers was designed by Richard Morris Hunt and modeled on Italian Renaissance palaces. Completed in 1895, it was the summer home of Cornelius II and Alice Vanderbilt. The house totals 138,300 square feet.

Here are a selection of photos, starting with the grand front gate and continuing through a few of the indoor vistas.


Rosecliff was built for Theresa Fair Oelrichs and ‘modeled after Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles’.

I’ve been inside in the past (in fact, a much-younger-looking-me was able to dance in this mansion back in 2012!), but on this occasion I just visited the exterior and gardens for a lovely picnic.


Marble House
The 50-room Marble House was built by another Vanderbilt — Ava Vanderbilt — between 1888 and 1892.  As one might imagine given the name, there is quite a bit of marble to be seen in this house!

One of the facts that stuck with me relates to the chairs in the dining room. They are made of bronze and covered in gold and silk velvet. Each chair weighs 75 to 100 pounds! Just imagine being in an 1890s dress and wanting to get up from the table. It’s no wonder that someone needed to help with the chair!


Chateau sur Mer
Compared to the Gilded Age Newport mansions, Chateau sur Mer feels somewhat modest. However, when it was completed in 1852 it was the most ‘palatial residence in Newport’. This house was built for William Shepard Wetmore, who made his money in commercial shipping.

I enjoyed the details, including the large owl on the library table. I asked the docent, who let me know that it is, in fact, a humidor, and that owls had no particular significance to the family that is known about.

Ta da! Thanks for joining me on this excursion!

1860s Dance Weekend: Part I, Saturday

December is going to be a whirlwind of HSF posts and posts about events, so I need to hurry up and get started by sharing pictures of an event that actually happened in November but which I haven’t shared pictures of yet. The event was a 1860s Intensive Dance Weekend, hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, featuring two days of dance classes, two evening balls, and a German (an after ball party of fun dance games). I’ve got lots of pictures, so I’m going to split this up into two posts. In today’s post, I’ll share pictures of the Saturday of the dance weekend and Part II will be pictures of the Sunday of the dance weekend.

Taking some photos before the ball.
I wore Evie. This is a nice photo of the bodice with recently added sleeve trim.
Plaid dresses!
Something exciting was being said, though I don’t remember what! This is good proof, though, that my Evie hair wreath does often take on a very green hue in contrast to the sometimes gold-ish brown that it looks in pictures.
In lines, dancing Le Tourbillion.
Dancing in a large circle. This is either Spanish Dance or Soldier’s Joy. I always get them confused since they start out similarly!
Lines of ladies and gentlemen dancing Gothic Dance.
Ladies passing under the “Gothic” arches!
Wondering what this odd scene is? This is one of the dance games in the German. You’ll have to forgive me for not remembering the names of them. In this one, a lady sat in the chair with a mirror and cloth. She could see the gentleman standing behind her in the mirror. She would wipe the mirror to dismiss them until she found one she wanted to dance with.
In this dance game, the lady presented one of the two gentlemen with a glass of “wine.” She then danced with the other gentleman.
For this dance game, the gentlemen were blindfolded (I was dancing as a gentleman…). We all stood in a circle with ladies in between gentlemen and then would begin to give hands, right then left, around the circle. Because the gentlemen were blindfolded the ladies had to be sure to catch their hands to keep them from wandering out of the circle. At the sound of a whistle, you would dance with the person whose hand you were holding. Something must have been mixed up, because two of us blindfolded “gentlemen” wound up dancing together, to the great amusement of all onlookers. Lucky for us we’re both proficient waltzers, and being blindfolded isn’t much of a challenge. People were quite impressed and amused.
Another dance game, with 5 each of ribbons, ladies, and gentlemen. Once the center of the ribbon was released each person found the person holding the other end of their ribbon and danced with them.
This dance game involves two people trying to capture one of the dancing couples in the sash. When they’ve caught someone they switch around so different people are the ones holding the sash. The people dancing have to try to dance away from capture.
It’s hard to see, but the couple with the plaid dress is holding a top hat. The object of this dance game is for the second couple to dance close enough to the couple with the top hat to drop a glove into it. When that happens then the couple with glove becomes the couple with the hat. Only dancing, not running, is allowed to elude the couple with the glove.

All in all a fun and energetic day and night of dancing, especially with the German that was directly after the ball. I hope you enjoyed these.

Refreshing Proof (Chelmsford Regency Ball 2013)

What a day! It started with 1950s adventures: brunch at a 1950s diner, photos in the great outdoors, and roller skating. I was exhausted by the time I had changed into my red Regency ball gown and wrangled my super hair sprayed hair into a Regency style. But I did get photographic proof that I made good use of my new Refreshing Apron and that I was able to wear my new red and gold tiara.

Refreshing in a tiara and apron.
While preparing the refreshments someone realized we didn’t have a knife to cut the pound cake. That didn’t stop us for long, though, because it’s entirely normal for the men in our group to have swords in the car. All that was required was a quick walk out to the car to get one, and just like that we were back in business!
One of the pretty cards labeling the refreshments.

The ball was a huge success. I think there were about 70 attendees, which quite filled up the room we were in. There was live music played on a piano, cello, and violin. People seemed to really enjoy themselves.

A view of the crowded room.
Dancing a country dance.
I was so busy dealing with refreshments I didn’t get to dance much, which was a little sad, but this was one of the dances I was able to dance.
Couples dancing a Regency waltz.
More waltzing.
People were very well dressed and it’s always fun to look at the clothing people who are new to one’s acquaintance.
One of our friends made a new dress for herself as well as a friend who was visiting and attending the ball. So kind!
And there were a surprising number of new faces. This group of young men requested a picture with us, and we obliged.
I’ll leave you with this further, slightly artsy, proof of my new tiara being worn.

1950s Adventures Part III: On A Roll

After eating brunch at a 1950s themed dinerstopping along the side of the road to take lovely autumn color pictures, and spending some time at a thrift store before the roller rink opened, we finally headed out to go roller skating! I had been jokingly warned that we were likely to be at the roller rink with a whole lot of 8 year olds and the warning was pretty accurate. There were a few adult couples on dates and a few by themselves, but mostly there were a ton of 5-13 year olds and their adult chaperones. It was a Saturday afternoon, after all, so it was to be expected that there would be a lot of birthday parties… It didn’t bother us, though, we’re used to being unique. And lots of the girls called out that they liked our dresses as we skated by. Perhaps one day they’ll be inspired to make or wear historic clothing!

Some of us had been more used to roller blading, but in the spirit of trying to be 1950s-ish, we all rented roller skates. Granted, the roller rink and the skates are obviously modern and not 50s, as you’ll see, but we had so much fun it didn’t matter at all!

Putting on skates under a black light.
Things started off a little shaky for some of us.
But we were there to support each other.
In fact, I almost fell over before I even made it onto the rink… But I managed to keep my balance, and here I am, successfully skating!
Our confidence rose pretty quickly, and soon we were all making it around the rink.
We were even managing to be graceful sometimes.
And possibly even in sync…
I did still lose my balance sometimes and make crazy faces…
But they were balanced out by the successful moments.
Look, here’s another successful moment!
On a roll!
This picture amuses me, because we might be dancing, or we might just be loosing our balance…
Group shot (with fun lights!).
Another group shot…
You might remember our “raise the roof Charleston”… We just like to throw in raising the roof any chance we get, and this was a perfect opportunity.
It almost looks intentional that we’re all in a line!
Full circle. Returning my skates under the black light.

Fun, right? We really enjoyed ourselves and no one actually fell! But the day wasn’t over… we still had a Regency ball to run/attend that night. I’ve got pictures of that coming soon. It sure is a transformation from 1950s!

Picnic At The Commandant’s House

A few weekends ago I participated in a picnic and dance performance at the Commandant’s House. You might remember that we danced there last August? It was great fun last year and we were pleased to be able to participate in another event at this lovely location.

This time around we were there mostly to picnic, so that’s what the majority of my pictures are from. But we did dance a little in the house and lounged around to take a few pictures. Enjoy!

I love how picturesque we all look in this photo! It’s sort of funny how the white dresses all clumped on one side and the colored dresses on the other.
After eating we played Graces.
It’s much more fun with lots of people and lots of hoops!
We played it in a big circle and would just call someone’s name to get their attention (hopefully) before flinging the hoops at them.
There were some really good catches and really close misses.
We had a great time and laughed a lot!
With trees around, I’m sure you can guess what happened…
I didn’t want to do a boring bun, so I opted for two rolls of hair instead.
We were called from Graces to dance inside the house. I was particularly appreciative of this wallpaper this time around. It’s in the entry hallway. You can see other interior pictures of the house in this post from last year.
The curtains in this room have a lovely glow when the sun shines on them.
Looking for Mr. Darcy, perhaps? I just love the shadows and the glow.

More 20s! (Prohibition Ball 2013)

Only one week after I attended the 1920s Lawn Party, I was immersed in the 1920s again, this time at a Prohibition Ball in Chelmsford, MA. I would guess the attendance at maybe 40-50 people total, though I’m not sure we were ever all in the ballroom at the same time. It was a nice, social group of people and I saw everyone meeting and greeting new people, dancing with a variety of people, and generally being social and having a good time with everyone around. It was also nice to see some of the new people we had met at the 1920s Lawn Party at the ball. The venue, the Chelmsford Center for the Arts, was a lovely place I’d never seen before.

I wore my 1925 beaded dress and accessorized with a long string of pearls and jeweled/feather hair decoration.

I tried a new style with my hair! I did my now usual 20s thing, where I gel the front sections and use a fine tooth comb to create waves in front while my hair is wet. Then I secure it to my head and let it dry. Usually, I’ve taken the back and put it in a tight bun at the base of my head (like when I’ve worn my not-quite-sailor dress). The idea in doing that is that it makes my hair close to my head and  thus, maybe, more bob-like (I know, I’m kidding myself, it does not actually look like a bob!). This time however, I did something totally different with the back. It seems counter-intuitive, so be prepared… I took my curly hair, and curled it with a curling iron. Yup. Actually, the curling iron eliminates all my usual frizz (that alone is amazing!), but it also creates nice, even, wide curls. I was in a super hurry to get my hair done, so I just did some rather messy curling iron curls then pinned them up in a mass at the back and added my jeweled/feather clip. I love the defined curly mass (different than my normal frizzy, curly mass)! I’m excited to try out curling ironed styles for other events, too!

Defined curls coiffure surmounted by feathers and jewels.

The other cool thing about the feather/jeweled clip is that from the front I have a small halo of feathers showing. I like that it is visible from the front and packs a big punch in the back! Success!

Glamour shot! I often make really silly 20s faces, but I think this one works! I love the defined eyelashes, the red lips, the feathers, the pearls…
IMG_4202 close-001
More glamour! I’d call this a more sultry shot than mine, which is more playful. It’s got those same fun elements, though, eyelashes, lips, sequins, jewels…

I did mention that this was all for a ball, right? And the ball did include dancing! In addition to normal couple dancing, and large group Charelstons (you can dance the Charleston in a circle like you used to dance in high school!), there were also a lot of mixer-type dances, where participants changed partners, or danced with unknown partners…

Attendees chatting with each other and looking great.
Dancing… A foxtrot or one step, perhaps?
One of the mixers with a name like “Paul Jones” or something similar.
The dancing couples trying to escape the gentlemen with umbrellas.
Another mixer. See the hand over the sheet? Neither gentleman nor lady knows who his or her partner will be.

There was also a slightly unplanned performance of our five lady Charleston (the same one we performed at the Great Gatsby in May). People really enjoyed it, and it’s always a pleasure to dance a Charleston to the song Egyptian Ella. The Great Gatsby performance post includes a video you can listen to that has the song we performed to, if you’re curious. It’s a fun song!

We sort of look like penguins in this shot… At least we’re on the same feet!
There are little bits where we do solos: here I am washing the windows.
Then I turn and back up. There really isn’t a good way to describe it… looks fun though, right?
Another solo (well, duo, I suppose). I don’t actually know what this figure is called, but it’s super fun to watch.
Starting to do the shimmy! (I think it’s the shimmy… It’s really just wiggling, it’s not as shimmy-like as you’re probably imagining!) It was super scandalous in the 20s!
Final pose.

And of course, there was silly-ness. That’s to be expected when I’m around.

The “Hello Charleston”… (I made it up…)
How low can you go?

I had the added bonus of my parents being available to experience, in person, their first vintage dance event. They’ve seen thousands of pictures but have never been able to attend. It was fun to share the experience with them and to Charleston with them! I sure had fun, I hope that you’ve had fun reading about it!

1920s Lawn Party

I had the opportunity to attend a 1920s Lawn Party at the Crane Estate in Ipswich, MA, the day right after I participated in the George’s Island Vintage Dance Performance. Luckily, the weather wasn’t so hot. In fact, when we first arrived we were thinking sweaters would have been nice, given the sea breeze, but that thought didn’t last for long as the day heated up.

The lawn party was hosted by Boston Swing Central and included live music by the Baby Soda Jazz Band. The music was lovely and the venue was lovely, as you’ll soon see, but I have to say that I wished for more 20s dancing and less swing… of course, that’s because I’m biased towards older styles of dancing, but I did feel that the event had a vague “I’m not sure what decade I’m in” feel to it rather than strictly as 20s as I had hoped. Ah well, we made our own fun 20s atmosphere.

I wore my 1926 cotton not-quite sailor dress and American Duchess Gibsons, and it was nice to see friends with new 1920s day dresses! I think I had the most fun just walking around the lovely estate and taking pictures, so that’s what most of these pictures are.

Practicing our 20s poses with the Crane Estate behind us.
The view from the house looking out towards the ocean. Those lovely rolling hills don’t look that big, but I promise you they are!
Did you happen to notice the statues along the edges of the grass?
Well you know silly-ness often happens when I’m around…
So we each took turns imitating the statues.
When you’ve walked all the way to end of the hills, this is the view that greets you.
Looking back at the house from the farthest point with the grounds full of people.
Looking over the Italian garden tucked away from the main house.
While in the garden we took the opportunity for fun photos: telling secrets…
Lounging on the rails…
Posing with sporting equipment…
Admiring the flowers…
And playing with accessories and wrought iron gates!
There were vendors of vintage items, which were fun to look through. I especially like this dress!
And we met some well dressed new people!
We also took part in the dancing, especially when there was a song to which we could dance a Charleston!
By the end of the day I was feeling pretty tired along with everyone else I was with. We took the opportunity to explore the side of the house that had parking space rather than dancing action, which was quiet and relaxing. This side of the house looks out over marshes.

Not long after that the event was over and it was time to return home, feeling like I needed a weekend to unwind from my weekend!

Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.


First Picnic Of The Summer: Part II

You might have noticed that my last post was titled “First Picnic Of The Summer: Part I” but I didn’t actually mention what the next part would be. While the last post had general pictures of the day and of our outfits, this post is going to be filled with more artsy, detail shots. We had fun playing with the cameras that were available and working on our photography skills.

First, my feet. I wore my blue silk stockings and Astorias from American Duchess.
These links contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of these products.
More feet. It’s fun to play with the focus of the photo in these detail shots.
The willow and the trained skirt have similar qualities that make this photo neat.
I enjoy how the branches fill in the background space and create complimentary curves with the skirt.
This was intended to be casual bench lounging, but it looks very Sleeping Beauty c. 1900 to me. Where’s a prince when you need one?
I love the longing reach for the reflection of the willow. That’s a good metaphor for life sometimes… reaching for reflections.
This is pretty, too, with the skirt and tree having similar qualities. Also, I love the pop of red on the ground. Could be that those are flower petals… but I actually think they’re the remains of some child’s balloon animal.
Playing with the focus on some lovely roses.
Baby ducks! I enjoy that they are not what your eye is first drawn to in this photo and I like the super bright green of the tree.
My favorite: a close up of the allium flowers!


First Picnic Of The Summer: Part I

Last weekend was a whirlwind of events and that means I’ve got lots of pictures to share! The pictures will be coming in small-ish groups. I do hope you’ll be able to vicariously enjoy the nice weather and fun through them.

The first event was a low-key turn of the 20th century picnic in the Boston Public Garden. You might remember that last year we did a Regency picnic in the same place? We were out to have a good time and get some fresh air without worrying about 100% historical accuracy, hence the low-key part of the description. So without further ado, pictures!

Taking a turn about the garden.
There are lots of ducks in and around the swan pond in the center of the garden and this time of year you can also see baby ducks! There were 9 of them in this bunch. Aren’t they cute?
There are also swans around the swan pond. These ones were nesting in a fenced off area. Pretty, but you wouldn’t want to get too close. Swans are big, and mean.
There are lovely old trees around the garden as well.
The trees make great backdrops for photos.
Walk a bit away from the swan pond and you are likely to encounter George Washington, who happened to be showing off his Bruins spirit this past weekend. (I love that the city, presumably, had a custom all-weather jersey-cape made, since Washington can’t actually move his arms to put on a jersey, given that he’s bronze…)
All around the statue of Washington are lovely flower beds. The flowers get changed out pretty regularly so they’re always blooming and pretty. These flowers are my favorite though! They’re called allium, and I love the colors, and the size, and the circle-y-ness of them.
I believe I have a weakness for circle-y things. And, my outfit matched the flowers! I think my gibson-y hair turned out pretty well, too.
I know this picture is similar to the last one… but I can’t decide which one I like best. I’m hoping maybe you have an opinion that will sway me one way or the other?
It got warm promenading about the garden, so we returned to the blankets in the shade to play cards.
After the rest, we broke out the croquet set we had brought along. Apparently we were more interesting while playing croquet than we were at any other time during the day, because we actually gathered a crowd of people who were watching us play.
Contemplating my next shot. I was getting out of the metal panel obstacle…
I was the pink ball! I think it was supposed to be red, but it looked awfully pink to me!
My outfit choice was inspired by an image in the KCI collection. I did my best to imitate it in spirit, despite my lack of a boater.
When revisiting the image I realized that it does not include a croquet mallet. Be that as it may, I tried, and I think the inspiration is clear, even though my memory is not!

Returning Heroes Ball 2013

I’ve been slow to post my final group of pictures from this event. Sorry! You’ll remember that I first posted Three Series of Photos of my new green 1864 ball gown, Evie, and her undergarments? Then I posted A Second Series of Photos of friends? It’s finally time for the final installment of posts from the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers’ Returning Heroes Ball back in March.

A ballroom full of hoop skirted ladies and suited gentlemen.
A lovely set of dancers. Don’t we all look nice in our light colored dresses?
Dancing a waltz.
A “German Cotillion” dance game during intermission, in which the two young men vied for the young lady holding the candle, each trying to blow it out first. Whoever blew it out was rewarded with a waltz.
More dancing after intermission.
Caught on camera!
Do The Jellyfish! There are more Jellyfish pictures from Ochre Court last year.
The chandelier is perhaps not the loveliest style, but I like the artsy style of the photo. The coffered ceiling is great!