Remember Evie, my 1864 green ball gown? I felt compelled to make a matching hair wreath to wear with her, and here it is! A ring of paper covered millinery wire colored black (to blend with my hair) with a sharpie, decorated with a bit of gold silk, some green silk ribbon, and the mysteriously changeable gold/green ostrich feathers. Here those feather look gold, but I assure you that they sometimes appear as green as the silk background (which is the silk the dress is constructed of).
I think I would like to trim the ostrich feather on the right so it is the same shape as the one on the left, but aside from that one change, this is good as is! It’s super easy to bobby pin the wire to my hair and it’s easy to hide the bobby pins under all that silk and ostrich feather business going on at the bottom.
Alliterative, agreed? Ok, I’m done… Honestly, the words just came–I didn’t spend long on them! Last weekend I attended the Returning Heroes Ball hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers in Holliston, MA. As usual, it was full of fun and laughs. There were fabulous dresses all around (because of course one of the joys of a ball is to observe dresses–old and new) and wonderful refreshments as well. I don’t have pictures of other people, but I have pictures of me!… You can see a variety of people in the photos on Antonia’s blog, Experiments in Elegance…
I recently gained a new accessory: a deep purple burnout silk velvet scarf, big enough to use as a shawl. The shawl was decommissioned from a friend’s modern wardrobe because it is rather intense for a modern look; however, it works wonderfully as a 19th century piece, I think! I’ve been waiting for about three months to try it out with this outfit… I think it is fabulous and nicely complements the purple in the flowers. Do you think it works for an 1860s look?
I’ve been trying out more complicated, poof-filled hair styles in preparation for early 20th century styling and I put some extra effort into this hair-do to try out more poof-ing. From the front my hair has it’s normal 1860s style with a center part where each from section is slightly poofed and rolled back to join the low rolled chignon at the nape of my neck (above, left and right)… but from the back this most recent style has extra poof-age!
In terms of the hair-styling itself, I think I like the extra poof as it gives more dimension and adds a regal feel to the overall look. Do you like the added poof?
I also decided to rework the hair wreath I’d made for the German Cotillion back in October (left). I’m not sure I like it as a giant mass of flowers, I might rework it again into a crescent shape like the flower piece that matches Belle, my other 1860s ball gown (above right). In terms of the flowers, giant mass or crescent shape?
Now that we’ve seen my re-made 1819 dress (woohoo!), let’s look a little closer at my hair. Despite the fact that I have naturally curly hair, Regency hair styles are not as easy for me to achieve as you might think. Many Regency styles have short curls (bangs, really) that surround the face, like the one below.
1813 Ackermann’s fashion plate from EK Duncan’s blog: look at those curls that frame her face!
However, in this modern world, curly bangs are just not the thing to have… so thus my regular, un-period hairstyle is long, with no trace of bangs! (So I don’t even have pieces I could curl with a curling iron to get the ringlets at the front.) I dug through my books to look for Regency hair styles that did not have the face framed in curls and I did find some in Cunnington’s English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century. Luckily, many of the non-face-framed-curly styles were from the same year as my dress: 1819. I also had the good fortune a few months ago to come across a gold laurel leaf headband that fits the Regency period wonderfully. It’s actually plastic, but I think it looks the part. I used it as a tiara.
In terms of styling my hair, I wound up trying out a few of the techniques that Lauren (of American Duchess) has been discussing recently in terms of early Edwardian hair styling. The question for me with these sorts of styles is always what to do with the back? Once the top poof has been achieved something has to fill in the back or it just looks weird. Lauren’s posts have been quite illuminating for me in solving this problem.
I started by parting my hair from ear to ear over my head, to separate the front bits: this I parted down the center to form a left and right side, then I clipped these out of the way to save for later. I then took the back section and divided it into a top and bottom section. I put the top section in a super high pony tail and then rolled it to create a poof at the top of my head, to fill in the laurel tiara.
Once that section had been pinned, I divided the remaining back section into three sections: one by each ear and one in the middle at the nape of my neck. Each of these was separately rolled up and pinned below the poof on the top of my head, to fill in the back section. Now remember, I didn’t want to curl the area around my face… but I had the left and right front sections still. The image that I used had wings (almost like an 1860s look)… and so that’s what I did with the front sections. Each one swooped over my ear and was pinned in the back bottom section. Big sigh of relief… An hour later, having used 20 bobby pins, and a lot of super duper hair spray (to contain my frizz, you know), Regency hair! I felt very Josephine-like with such an up-do and regal tiara! I’m not totally sold on the wings. I think they were a little too poofy. Maybe next time I can smooth them down more?
Below is a great example of a Regency up-do from a fashion plate. I think I created a similar style, if not more complicated style, although without those face-framing curls…