Wicked, Monstrous, Silly, And A Good Time

Some friends and I, taken by the official photographer of the night.

In the words of journalist Heywood Broun, “The Jazz Age was wicked and monstrous and silly. Unfortunately, I had a good time.” I don’t know about wicked or monstrous, but I certainly had a silly and good time recently at the Greater Boston Vintage Society’s White Lightning Ball.

Silly faces!

I wore my 1924 robe de style from last summer, updated with new dramatic trimmings that suit the dress much better than the last iteration. It’s such a fun, unusual, and distinctive style to wear. I fielded quite a few questions about the style and happily encouraged people who knew things about it such as that it looked like Lanvin. For my hair, I didn’t have time to attempt waves, so I aimed for a romantic style that was less time consuming, inspired by these: no waves worn with a robe de style, a romantic bun (on the right), and long hair pinned up. Also, this set of drawings shows a large hair comb worn with a robe de style which reminded me that I haven’t worn mine in a long time.

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My accessories include: my vintage celluloid hair comb; silver drop earrings with peachy faux stones, which don’t often match things, so it was nice to wear them since they don’t get worn often; and a recent purchase from American Duchess, black Seaburys! (Never fear, there’s a whole post coming about the Seaburys, but for now we’re focusing on the event and the clothes.)

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This event is held at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in what was the Anderson family’s carriage house in the early 20th century. It is a large building with multiple levels used for stabling horses as well as storing carriages and cars. The upper floor of the carriage house housed an exhibit of motorcycles during the event, if you’re wondering about the background. Downstairs was the collection of Anderson family cars from the 1900s and 1910s. They were very fun to look at and so tempting to sit in… I know it wouldn’t be good for the cars… And there were security cameras… so I had to content myself with looking at them and dreaming of reproductions that we could ride in.

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My other silly accessory was a candy cigarette. It does rather add to the 20s look, but of course I don’t smoke, so there was rather a lot of me flipping it around in my hand trying to figure out how to hold it and not look ridiculous. I didn’t ever try eating it, so I can’t report how it tasted, but I was pleased that it lasted almost until the end of the night when I dropped it for the second time and it broke in half. Until then it was going strong and gave me something to do with my hands in pictures, which is always a good thing.

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Mostly I stood around and talked to friends, hatched dreamy plans for how to sit in the cars, and took pictures, but we did go out on the dance floor a few times for some Charleston. Too bad nobody got pictures of that!

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This was the third year of the event, I believe, but only the first year I had been free to attend. It was fun, and nice to attend an event that I wasn’t helping to run.


HSF/M #10: 1910 Dowager Countess Evening Gown


This gown was already in my sewing plan before I decided it fit into the HSF/M Challenge #10: Sewing Secrets. It turns out that it fits into the Sewing Secrets challenge for multiple reasons:

#1: Because like many dresses from the first few decades of the 20th century, the method of closure is cleverly hidden, rather complicated, and definitely secretive–you really can’t tell how the dress goes on just looking at it once it’s all hooked up. (Right? Can you figure it out before I show you later in the post?)

#2: The beaded panel on the front might look familiar if you’ve been reading my blog for a few years. It is actually the sleeve (turned upside down) from a 1980s evening gown that I remade into a sleeveless 1925 evening gown.

#3: I made this dress with a train because I had enough fabric, it’s elegant, and I don’t get to have many dresses with trains because I’m usually dancing in them. However, I do plan to dance in this dress, so I included a secret hidden button under the decorative knot at the back and a loop on the center back skirt seam so that the skirt can hook up (bustling, essentially) to be a uniform length all around so I can dance unhindered!


I paired this new dress with my American Duchess Astoria shoes, because they are super comfy and made sense color-wise with my other accessories: plain white stockings, a super long strand of faux pearls, lovely clear/white dangle earrings I’ve had for at least ten years, and two matching metallic silver wrapped hair pins I think my mother gave me also a number of years ago. Underneath is my 1913 chemise and corset.


I’ve had all the fabrics in the stash for at least three to seven years. The underskirt was leftover from a former project never fully pictured here on the blog–an 1890s 2 part dress taken directly from an extant bodice with an extrapolated skirt (the skirt was worn by a friend in Newport in 2012–there are pictures toward the bottom of this past post, and I forgot that the ensemble I’m wearing in that post also uses this same fabric as trim). I had purchased way more fabric than I needed and had more than enough for the new project, so I guess I’ll be using it on another something someday. The matching chiffon and charmeuse I’d purchased with the intention of making a 1910s evening dress back in 2012, but ran out of time that year.

When I was first seriously thinking of making this dress, I thought I had enough fabric to do something like this dress, but I hit a snag when I realized I only had about ½ yd of the charmeuse and that the beaded sleeve I was hoping to incorporate into the dress was entirely unsuited for the shape of the beaded bit on the inspiration dress. I decided to make a dress like my original inspiration someday, but to go back to the beginning for the current dress and rethink what the dress might look like. I would up with something I am quite happy with that is drawn from a variety of inspirational dresses on my 1909-1914 evening gown Pinterest board with this as the most obvious inspiration.

Just the facts:

Fabric: One beaded silk sleeve from a 1980s evening dress that I deconstructed two years ago to make a 1925 evening dress, about ¼ yd of plain weave cotton for the base, less than ¼ yd of silk charmeuse, about 2 yds of silk chiffon, and 3-4 yds of lightweight silk faille for the underskirt.

Pattern: Created by me, loosely starting with the pattern for the bodice of my 1912 burgundy and gold evening gown and referencing skirt shapes in Janet Arnold for inspiration.

Year: 1910.

Notions: Thread, hooks and bars, and two pre-made tassels.

How historically accurate is it?: It definitely passes Leimomi’s test of being recognizable in its own time. It uses accurate materials and accurate techniques. 95%.

Hours to complete: More than I kept count of.

First worn: In September 2015.

Total cost: Technically this is a stash project because all of the things I used have been in my stash for years, except the tassels, which I bought within the last year knowing this project was high on the to do list. If I had to guess at the cost of the materials it was probably $50-$60 dollars.

The dress was sewn with a mixture of machine and hand sewing. Most of the assembly of the bodice and skirt pieces while they were separate was done by machine, as was the hemming of all the chiffon and faille (though the hem edge of the chiffon is actually the selvedge). The hand sewing came in when I went to mount all of the pieces together. I started with the under bodice and kept adding layers and figuring things out as I went. The closures are also hand sewn.

Incidentally, I’m not really sure what color to call this dress. I’ve been calling the colors orchid and mauve, but I’m not really sure those are the best color names. The chiffon and charmeuse are a shade of pinky/purple that’s hard to put a finger on and the contrast faille is more grey than anything when it’s by itself, though it really takes on a pinky/purple cast when paired with these other fabrics. Does any really perfect color name come to your mind? If it does I’d be happy to know what it is!

As I mentioned, the closure for this dress is quite complicated and as I knew I was going to include it in the sewing secrets challenge we took pictures specifically of the closures to document how it works. If I tried to explain only with words I’m sure there would be confusion, so I think the pictures will clarify things. We’ll start hooked up and unhook as we go.

The back knot snaps into place over the belt, which hooks together at the back. The button for the bustling skirt loop is hidden under the belt in this picture.
The belt unhooks all the way to center front.
The chiffon overskirt unhooks from center back to the side.
Then the front bodice chiffon layer unhooks at the top edge of the beading and at the waist so it peels back toward the side. After that the under bodice unhooks and the dress slides right off. Is that what you thought might be the closure system?

Overall, I’m super pleased with this dress. It’s very comfortable, has lots of fabric in the skirt so is easy to dance in, and is a nice transitional style between the full skirts and pigeon breasts of the years around 1908 and the much slimmer, longer lines of the years around 1912. Plus, it has a train!

Here’s a comparison of the dress with the train down and then with it looped up. Luckily, these pictures were taken before dancing. Turns out that while I was dancing a very fast waltz, either my or my partner’s foot caught the hem of the dress and caused the loop to break, so I’ll have to repair it more sturdily for the next wearing. Ah well, that’s why they make safety pins!



I was quite pleased with how my hair turned out, so I had to make sure to get a reasonable close-up. Some of the curls are natural and some are made nice and smooth with a curling iron. The key is to put the hair up in a lot of different sections–and I mean a lot!


I call this dress the “Dowager Countess” gown because the shape of it reminds me of what Maggie Smith’s character in Downton Abbey often wears to dinner parties. Look at the bodices on these dresses: this dress, this dress, and this dress are all examples of a similar style–one that the Dowager Countess wears often! And why wouldn’t I want to be reminded of Maggie Smith when I think of this dress? Her snarky comments are highlights of Downton Abbey! (Incidentally, one of my friends wore the just-emerging-in-the-1910s style of pants in the ballroom to this ball–gasp!–and we took some posed snarky pictures. Head over to her blog, Plaid Petticoats, to take a look at her scandalous outfit. When you get to the bottom you’ll find the snarky pictures. You might even find that you think I’m there twice, because I was wearing this new 1910 dress and I loaned my 1912 evening gown from 2012 to a friend who happens to be being snarky with me.)



Restyled 1928 Green Silk Dress

Perhaps you remember this late 1920s green dress, which I made and first posted about in 2012? When it was first completed, I was in the midst of creating lots of new things for Newport Vintage Dance Week and was grateful that it had made it to a wearable state. I hadn’t quite solved the issue of keeping one side bunched up, so for the first wearing I used the bronze sequined flower pin you see in the picture below.

The slippery silk of the dress caused the pin to move around and shift while I was wearing the dress. I also didn’t love that it did nothing to break up the smooth lines of the back side of the dress.

In 2012.

Last year, I had a reason to wear the dress again and I came up with a new design idea, based on this image from 1929. I loved the simple lines of the green dress on the right (and it happened to be the right color!) and the sash with a huge bow. It took me another year to get proper pictures of the new look and document it here, but I’m really pleased with the pictures, so I guess it was worth the wait!

I used my remaining fabric to create a separate sash for my dress. It’s separate so I didn’t have to deal with adding closures to the dress–it still slips on over my head; however, because the silk is slippery and the bow side of the sash wanted to slide down, I did safety pin both the bow side and the opposite side of the sash to the dress to keep it in place.

The same basic dress in 2015, styled differently. The same gloves and pearls (worn differently), with my newly shared gold t straps, green earrings, and a matching trim headband.
And a different hair style. This is a better view of the bow.

I think the 20s silhouette grows in my estimation the more I wear it. It’s sort of odd at first, but can be quite elegant sometimes! I’m very pleased with how the sash and bow break up the dress and add extra oomph to the hem.

The event I wore the dress to was a 20s fundraiser at a local hotel. Here’s a bonus picture of the dress in action.


Waves, Curls, Earrings… And Dancing From The 1910s

It’s been over a month now, but back in July I attended a Ragtime ball that proved to be great fun. I wore my tried-and-true 1912 burgundy and gold evening gown (while it’s nice to have new things, it’s also nice to pull beautiful things out of the closet, too!). Despite wearing a dress I’ve worn before, I tried a new style with my hair, including a repurposed (and therefore new-feeling) accessory.

I was inspired by hairstyles like these from the early 1910s. There are more examples on my Hair: 1900-1920 Pinterest board as well, if you’re interested. What I took away from these images was the use of a headband of some sort, the rather large airy shape, and the defined waves and curls.

c. 1912 Lily Elsie
La coiffure française illustrée. (1910)

Of course, I decided to try this out the afternoon of the event so I hadn’t thought ahead in terms of what to use for a headband. After casting around a bit I thought of a bead necklace I’d purchased a few years ago that ties with a ribbon. Why not use that as a headband? In addition to the bead-necklace-as-headband, I wore my Downton Abbey Collection earrings, which are quite lovely and matched my dress very well in color and style.

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It took rather a lot of time to create the front waves with my curling iron. The back loopy curls were time consuming, too, though fun until my arms started to hurt from being held up for extended periods of time.
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I love how defined the curls came out, though, and while I do think there’s a slightly flat spot at the back of my head I generally think the silhouette is what I was aiming for.
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Waves, curls, and earrings!

And here is the dancing in action! People were very well dressed and enthusastic at this event and really seemed to have a good time. For most dances there was hardly anyone sitting out! That’s great, especially when the crowd is a mix of ages.

Quinn M. Burgess

Quinn M. Burgess (1)

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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…
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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.


1920s Dance Performance, Old Sport

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers performed before the opening of The Great Gatsby recently, as I mentioned in my post about the construction of my new 1925 beaded evening gown. It was pretty fun! The movie was being shown at the historic Somerville Theatre, which was built in 1914.

View from the balcony. It’s quite grand and those curtains on the stage are functional!

I never did like reading The Great Gatsby and I didn’t enjoy the movie much either (especially all the modern music! I don’t think it worked!), but it was still fun to be there with my friends having a good time and looking great.

Standing around during our rehearsal.

The stage was a fun place to take pictures, and you know we always like to take lots of pictures of ourselves!

Some people are much better at making picture faces than I am!

We performed a one-step, a tango, a foxtrot, and two Charlestons! One Charleston was a silly silent-video-like story of a girl trying to teach a guy how to Charleston and ending with the two of them plus an extra five ladies doing Charleston-in-a-line. (You can see some pictures of Charleston in a line from last year when we went to Newport.) The other Charleston was five ladies facing the audience and doing various Charleston things in a row.

The best pictures I have are from the five lady Charleston. We danced to the song Egyptian Ella, which you can hear in this video (there is a 30 second-ish introduction first). Our version was a little faster but this gives you the idea. I strongly recommend that you listen to the song while you look at these pictures: it makes them to come to life! (The lyrics are pretty amusing, too!)

Charleston basics to start.
Moving on to fancy steps. Each of us did different solo bits.
This is my favorite! Hard to see what’s going on in a still picture… It’s a kick to one side, then the second, then twice on the first side figure. As your leg comes in to kick your arms cross, and then they uncross when you kick. I don’t actually know what it’s called, but it’s super fun! Each kick has only one beat, so it’s pretty fast.
Final pose! It is EGYPTIAN Ella, after all!

We’ve got more Jazz Age things coming up soon, so there will be more opportunities to Charleston! In addition to some performances, there will also be a Prohibition Ball in Chelmsford, MA in July. If you’re in the area you should consider coming! If you’re not in the area, I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures and you can live vicariously through them. Maybe you’ll also be super inspired and go find people in your area to Charleston with!

Since there will be more Charleston-ing in my life, I’ll have to learn more Charleston steps! Lauren, at American Duchess, posted some great Charleston videos awhile back. Some of them include some steps I just might have to learn and dance… who knows, maybe some of them will make it into our next performance, too! In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Newport Vintage Dance Week Part VII: Glen Manor Continued

TNG: What more can I say?

At the very end of my first post about the Ragtime evening event at Glen Manor, I had just shared with you our series of pictures of the “young set” spelling out our most recent acronym: TNG. You’ll have to read the captions in the pictures of the that post to see what it stands for, because this post is moving on to pictures of the Ragtime ball. Before I start on pictures, I just have to share that this ball had the most fantastic food catered for our dinner. I don’t know what company catered it, unfortunately, but it was spectacular and delicious! We all ate generous first and second helpings and were super full… but it was SO good!

The light was fading as we returned from our adventures down by the water and on the dock… This is the back side of Glen Manor with the lights on in the downstairs rooms and the twilight sky behind.
The orchestra for the night. I believe this is the New River Orchestra.
The doors were thrown wide open to the patio and gardens, which allowed for picturesque viewing of the dancers.
This was one of the venues in which the dancers progressed through a series of small-ish rooms.
It was fun to look in and watch people dance. Because they were traveling through different rooms there were always new people to watch.
There were lots of really beautiful gowns to admire.
Dancers in the main ballroom.
The interior of one of the beautiful rooms.
The fabulous red carpeted staircase. Not quite as grand as Rosecliff or Ochre Court, but still beautiful.
Most members of TNG lounging on the stairs.
One of our faithful cameramen caught lounging without a camera in hand!
None of the young set danced very much, but there were a few times we stood up and danced. This is one of them.
And another, blurry, picture of members of the young set actually dancing.
Photographic proof the Scott the Portsmouth Policeman danced (and with one of our own young set–as well as many other dancers).
On the left is Scott the Policeman. Elsewhere are other wonderfully dressed dancers.
We may not look like we’re dancing, but we had just finished a tango. One of the few times the young set danced.
We did get up to dance the Charleston!
And we basically had the room to ourselves, which meant we could be super silly!
A silly Charleston figure called something like “shine your shoes.”
Charleston in a line. A TNG favorite.
The traditional TNG “raise the roof” Charleston! (It’s like patting your head and rubbing your stomach… to Charleston while raising the roof! You should try it!)
Follow the leader. Now everyone is doing the “raise the roof” Charleston!
Double trouble! We caught one of our TNG faithful photographers and Bill Cunningham in the same picture!
I believe at least some of us are doing the “flying Charleston” in this picture.
Yay! We Charleston-ed!
We’re all laughing and smiling! Doesn’t it look like a wonderful time? Don’t you just want to jump in the photo and join us?
Two fabulous TNG-ers.
The fearless leader of TNG and the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. What a fabulous fan! Doesn’t it just scream for sillyness?
Well, here you go! Sillyness! (Can you tell that it’s her tail? Like a peacock?)
Okay, I’m not actually asleep… but the stairs were a pretty comfy place to relax… Clearly, it is nearing bed time.
“Follow the moon path!” I said, knowing you can’t actually follow the moon path over the water. It’s a good metaphor for life though, to follow your dreams.
Last view of Glen Manor that night, with the lights on and the rising moon. So lovely!

Final tally: 72 pictures between 2 posts out of a total of 1,266 pictures total for this event. Not bad, I say.

Newport Vintage Dance Week Part II: Seaside Tea Dance at Easton’s Beach

Here we are again, for the second installation of the Newport marathon of awesome-ness. If you missed it, you can view the first installation, the 1920s Gatsby Ball at Rosecliff, here.

The Seaside Tea Dance took place on Tuesday. It was held at a venue right on the beach that also houses a operational carousel! In fact, the carousel was shut down for the public so that those of us at the ball might ride it with our other costumed companions. If you’ve ever been to Newport, this beach area is the one just down the hill from Bellevue Avenue (where many of the mansions are). Actually, many of the mansions along the left side of Bellevue Avenue actually have a view of the beach area where this event was held. The day events did not have specific time periods, thus you’ll see a variety represented in the pictures. It’s nice to be able to choose, but I enjoy the atmosphere most when everyone is wearing clothes from a short time span (as is the case at the formal evening balls).

It wound up being a rainy afternoon, which caused some stress, but we managed to overcome our various situations and have silly, fun time anyway. You’ll have to look through the pictures to see the adventures! Onward!

I hardly danced at this event–I wasn’t in the mood. BUT, I did ride the carousel!
Hm… not actually smiling, but with the same look on their faces.
More of the fabulous young set…
Being proper ladies, we were obligated to ride side saddle! (And you can see the back of my newly decorated hat.)
Now you can see the front of my hat.
This was ride number two. I was practicing my princess wave.
As I mentioned in an earlier picture: we didn’t dance much. We did spend a lot of time sitting and discussing things (I don’t remember what things… I think mostly that we didn’t feel like dancing…). You can also see the fabulous knot I made on the blue belt! It was all pinned in place at the last minute, but I do like it.
We, the young set, might not have been dancing, but that didn’t stop other people!
If you’re going to wear matching bathing suits, you must take pictures on the beach!
Oh no! The picture has been crashed by a random modern guy! Eep!
Single occupant pictures are always essential.
Here I am: 1900. New skirt, blouse from 1913 (shhh…), new belt, and newly trimmed hat (that appears to be listing to one side… oh well, it’s jaunty, right?).
From the back.
Close up. I love that I finally have a picture of this blouse that shows the details!
Another good blouse shot. I can’t resist including lots of pictures of new clothes!
Silly fun! We went wading in the ocean, in the rain! It was pretty warm, so the water didn’t feel cold.
It is for spur of the moment events like this that it is always useful to wear historic underthings… You never know when your combination legs might be seen!
Look, you can see one of our faithful cameramen!
After getting our feet all sandy, we had to hose down a little bit.
My ostrich feathers were rather bedraggled when we finally went inside… but I fluffed them and they dried looking just as wonderful as before the rainy sea adventure.
Walking to the car. More petticoat ruffle is always better!

Final picture tally: 22 pictures out of 655 total from this event… You made it!

Newport Vintage Dance Week Part I: 1920s Gatsby Ball at Rosecliff

Remember I recently promised you lots of awesome pictures and recounted adventures? Last week was the 25th annual Newport Vintage Dance Week hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. The week includes vintage dance classes during the day followed by fabulous afternoon events and formal balls in the evenings. All of the events are held in lovely places including some of Newport’s famous historic mansions!

My friends and I took a whopping 4,796 (ish) pictures during the week!!! Yikes! I promise I won’t put up ALL of them… but even after sorting, there are still mounds of great ones to share. Get ready, because a marathon of awesome-ness is beginning… right now!

Part I: the 1920s Gatsby Ball at Rosecliff:

Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini. (From the Newport Mansions website about Rosecliff. The site also includes really beautiful pictures of the mansion. I encourage you to click the link to look at them!)

The setting: Rosecliff as we arrived in the twilight. (Rargh, lions!)
Ready Newport? We’re here and it’s the 20s!
The yawning red carpeted grand staircase just inside the entrance.
It turns out that we were wearing complementing shades of green and gold!

I made a new green dress for this ball–my first 20s dress. I’m not really a huge fan of this particular period, but it was fun to branch out and build something different. In fact, I know at least 4 of the 5 dresses we were wearing were built new for this ball (some were finished just before the ball…). It’s really neat that without realizing it we all coordinated, but each of us managed to incorporate different design pieces into our dresses: one has panels, one has beads, one has asymmetrical draping, one has fringe, and one has an overskirt. All similar 20s shapes, and all totally different and entirely unique!

The staircase required lounging and looking elegant.
More lounging… we lost a few people from the last shot. Oh well!
Just practicing a bit of Charleston before entering the ballroom…
I’m not sure what we’re discussing, but we look rather intent on the topic…
The ceiling of the ballroom!
The live orchestra (I believe this ball had music by the New River Orchestra).
Looking in on the ballroom from the lovely patio.
Contrary to the impression in the following pictures: there were actually lots of other people at the ball in addition to us…
We really enjoyed the Charleston and more importantly, we enjoyed Charleston-ing together!
More Charleston!
Kicks and flying Charlestons were not to be left out! I am particularly amused that this picture captured some of us in midair!
Look, we’re all kicking the same way at the same time! How cute!
This became one of our signature dances for the week: Charleston in a line!
It accompanied one of our other signature dances: the Raise the Roof Charleston (which I don’t think I have pictures of at this ball–but perhaps at another ball I’ll find some). Raise the Roof Charleston is simply regular Charleston footwork while raising the roof with your hands–it’s super silly and super fun!
I think we took most of those Charleston pictures during mid-ball refreshment time, which is why the ballroom is empty behind us. But here is more proof that there were other people at the ball, too!
There were other lovely rooms in addition to the ballroom that we could wander through… isn’t this one cosy?
And this one, which is grand and fabulous! I love the curtains!
Okay, part of my love of the curtains is related to my love of tassels, especially giant upholstery/drapery tassels!
It was, of course, essential that I have my picture taken with the fabulous drapes!
There were a lot of poses… this is only a few!
Trading places: I’m behind the camera now…!
Another view of the same room. Isn’t is wonderfully fabulous???
Here I am, be-feathered, be-pearled, be-gloved, and enjoying the mirror doors!
Mirrored doors are mesmerizing and fantastic photo opportunities! More feathers! More jewels! More pearls! More gloves! More awesome! (More adequate! Inside joke…)
Just one of the many fabulous chandeliers hanging from one of the fabulous ceilings!

It was essential that every day include at least one super silly moment. Most days, of course, there were many silly moments…

This was just one silly moment from this ball (in case you can’t tell what’s happening–and I don’t blame you, because honestly, I can’t really tell either… I only know because I was there–we are attempting to imitate the statue behind us).
Another silly moment, diving into the fountain!
Ok, so we didn’t actually dive into the fountain… but we did briefly consider it!
Strike a final pose before the night ends!

Congratulations! You made it through all the pictures!

Final tally: 35 pictures out of 890 from that event.

I leave you with vicarious memories of a window into a glorious evening of the past–tonight, the 1920s.