Historic Fashion talk... - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-09-2014, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been invited to give a talk on historic fashion for a group of 70 ladies (and, a couple of older men), this coming spring.  It is almost an hour to drive to the location for the presentation.

 

The gal in charge told me at the end of the phone call that I would have 35 minutes to do this, which includes Q&A.  All my previous talks have been 1 hour+, with Q&A after that.  They have another speaker, as well.

 

I turned down this same group a year ago, as I had eldercare issues and couldn't promise I wouldn't have to cancel, at the last minute, because of that.  Well, fil died in October, so I am available now.

 

I agreed to this before she told me of the time-limit for the talk.  It takes me 35 minutes just to get dressed, and the talk would be about the clothing of the Victorian woman, circa mid-1800s.  I wear the ensemble and remove the garments, explaining each as I do so. 

 

I want to give the talk, but 35 minutes isn't enough time for my usual offering.

 

If YOU had 35 minutes to listen and learn about fashion of that era, what would you want to see and hear??

 

I'd hate to cancel, but I may have to.

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Old 02-09-2014, 11:37 PM
 
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Hmmm, I don't know what you normally talk about, but I'd be interested in the construction (materials and methods) and cost of the garments and which people would typically wear whatever you were putting on.  And I'd probably be more interested in the undergarments than the outer stuff, just because I know so little of that.

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Old 02-09-2014, 11:52 PM
 
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Could you just hold them up amd talk about them?
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Old 02-10-2014, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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They want me to be wearing the clothes, while I explain what they are, as I remove each garment. This is how I have done all my previous talks. But, it takes longer than 35 minutes to dress OR undress!

The gal also has no idea as to what timeframe makes up the various eras on which I speak. She said she wants the fashions to be Victorian, "You know, like before the Roaring 20s". I told her the Victorian era ended in 1901, well before the 1920s. She said, "Oh, well whenever the big skirts were!". Sigh....

She also wanted some of her ladies to help me or to model my clothes, as well. Wasn't thrilled with my refusal on either idea. My darling husband is going to be my "maid" (he can lace a corset in no time flat!!) and I don't allow anyone else to wear my clothes (without the proper undergarments, the clothes will not look correct).

I just don't see how I can talk AND answer questions in the timeframe they are requesting.

I guess I'll just have to explain my concerns and see what she says.

I'll stick with my local assisted living residence audience from now on!!! They love to spend the entire afternoon listening, watching, touching and questioning!
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:09 AM
 
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Could you have an assistant wearing the dress ensemble, and you wearing any undergarment ensemble or vice versa?  Could save some time.  I love historic fashion, and after I spend a minute ooo-ing and aaah-ing over the outer clothes, what fascinates me most is the endless details that people took for granted back then--like garters or other stuff like that.


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Old 02-11-2014, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Could you have an assistant wearing the dress ensemble, and you wearing any undergarment ensemble or vice versa?  Could save some time.  I love historic fashion, and after I spend a minute ooo-ing and aaah-ing over the outer clothes, what fascinates me most is the endless details that people took for granted back then--like garters or other stuff like that.

I don't have an assistant, it's just me. All the women I know work outside the home and this talk is to be on a weekday. I will not allow anyone else to wear my clothing, anyway.

The trouble is the timeframe and the era they want me to describe. Ah, well, I'll contact the woman and explain my concerns. Maybe she will want to cancel and I'll be off the hook!
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:34 AM
 
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Could you dress in only the bottom layer and make it only on those parts?
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:03 AM
 
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I'm not sure they could have chosen a worse time period for such a short presentation!


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Old 02-11-2014, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to write to her (better to put down my thoughts!) and explain the difficulties with which I am being presented.

 

Maybe she can come up with something more workable for everyone.  I really can't see how it could be done in 35 minutes!

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Old 02-11-2014, 02:22 PM
 
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I would just let her know how long your presentation takes, and then let her decide whether she wants to have you present.

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Old 02-11-2014, 09:04 PM
 
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How about just focusing on the outer garments like coats and hats? Would also be seasonally appropriate. 


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Old 02-11-2014, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Could you dress in only the bottom layer and make it only on those parts?

 

I won't do that.  It wouldn't be showing the clothes correctly. 

 

Quote:
 How about just focusing on the outer garments like coats and hats? Would also be seasonally appropriate

 

The talk is to be in the spring, not soon.  I can't see wearing a wonderful hooped ensemble and then just spending 15 minutes talking about a cloak or hat.

 

I am writing her a letter with my concerns and I'll let her decide if this will work.  I'm going to say that, perhaps, we could do this another time, when I would have more time allocated to the presentation.  I see it as quality versus quantity. 

 

I don't think she has much of an idea about the era she wants, as she thinks the Victorian era is around the 1920s.   

 

There is no way I can do this in 35 minutes.  There will be 70 people attending and the Q&A could take 30 minutes quite easily!

 

Driving an hour (one-way), without asking for any payment (I do this because I love it) and being locked into such a short amount of presentation time is sounding worse, by the minute.

 

Ugh...................The fun is fading FAST.

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Old 02-12-2014, 08:33 AM
 
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Don't put yourself through a constraint that robs your presentation of its whole point, especially if the constraint is defined by someone other than you.  You're definitely appropriate rescheduling or cancelling if the group isn't able to give this the time it requires. 

 

Most important:  You don't have to wait and see what *she* says (or change your presentation to let them handle your professional tools or play dress-up because they feel entitled to do so).  Outline the time and logistics required, and let her know those are the circumstances under which you're available.


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Old 02-12-2014, 09:32 AM
 
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It sounds like the woman who is setting up the event just doesn't realize the time it takes to go through your presentation, and isn't very familiar with the era. That's okay, there's nothing wrong with that. Just give her the information she's lacking and she'll decide whether that works with her plan for the day.

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Old 02-17-2014, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wrote to the woman in charge.  It will go out in tomorrow's mail and she'll get it on Wed.  I had dh read what I wrote and he said he felt it was polite, clear and concise. 

 

I told her what I normally do for these presentations and the basic details of the show.  How my previous talks have all lasted about an hour, with additional time needed for the Q&A.

 

I explained my concerns regarding the short presentation time, how only 35 minutes would limit me to simply wearing an ensemble, minimal discussion on the outfit or accessories, no show of the underpinnings, no real historic explanations and no Q&A time. 

 

I suggested that she might want to see about arranging a different gathering for me to address, when the time allotted for a talk would work for everyone.

 

I also explained what I would need, as far as a changing room (it's almost an hour's drive - one-way - to the venue, and I am NOT wearing my corset and bustle/hoop in the car for the drive!).  I was clear that a bathroom is not an acceptable changing room.

 

I guess she'll call me when she gets the letter.  I feel really bad that I gave a general acceptance this gig earlier, before getting the nitty-gritty details.  Hope we can work it out, but I am firm on what I can (and, cannot) do in the time she wishes me to fill.  I really like what I do and so have my audiences.  I don't want to cut things and have a sub-par presentation.

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Old 02-17-2014, 07:20 PM
 
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Hope it works out. :) Either way, it sounds like a FANTASTIC presentation! I'd love to see someone wearing the whole shebang and describing each garment. Are these genuine Victorian pieces, or repros made to fit you? 


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Old 02-18-2014, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hope it works out. :) Either way, it sounds like a FANTASTIC presentation! I'd love to see someone wearing the whole shebang and describing each garment. Are these genuine Victorian pieces, or repros made to fit you? 

 

I hope it works out, too!

 

The past presentations have been a joy.  I have done several of them for a local assisted living residence (both my late Mom and late fil had lived there) and the responses from those seniors have been wonderful.  I've done mid-Victorian (cage crinoline/hoop-era), late-bustle era formal, "soiled dove" (they really got a kick out of that one!), Victorian mourning customs, Edwardian summer, and Titanic (for the anniversary).  The audiences have averaged around 30+ residents (men and women) and, sometimes, their kids (usually daughters) and even a few grandchildren.  Great questions and some terrific reactions (one little girl thought my 10" hatpin went through my head, not my hair.  As I removed it from my head, her face went like this:  yikes2.gif !  She also asked great questions about pregnancy & corsets and how women went to the bathroom in all those clothes).  The older guys really liked the soiled doves presentation, as I did most of it in my corset, French knickers and camisole!  Such a great group of people.  I dearly love them.

 

Most of my collection pieces are reproductions, either purchased or made by me.  It would be impractical and damaging to wear real garments from these eras, as so much of the clothing was custom-made to an individual (one of my antique shirtwaists measures a scant 19" at the waist and the woman that wore it would have been about 4'10"!).  I have an entire, huge cedar-lined closet to hold most of the dresses/ensembles and footwear, a big cedar chest and an armoire to hold a lot of the accessories.  Dh calls that room my costume museum!

 

I do have items, as well, that are very old:  3 black silk Victorian (V) era mourning shirtwaists, trimmed with crape; a V crape mourning cap; V mourning handkerchief; a couple of late-1800s corsets (for display); multiple pairs of antique stockings (all silk) V and Edwardian; several purses; and various family heirlooms of gold and silver mourning jewelry that are from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras).  And, a LOT of really old linens which came through my Mom's side of the family (coverlets, table linens and bed linens), as well as a wonderfully, delicate silk and silk-lace family christening dress that was first used in 1880, made by French nuns!  It was worn by my great-grandmother (and her 6 siblings), my grandfather (and his two siblings), my mother (and her two siblings), and my sister (in 1941).  After that, it was put away and my Mom gave it to me when I married.  It is carefully preserved, to pass onto ds, if he has a family.

 

I have a collection of over 35 repro hats that represent both Victorian and Edwardian eras.  Some, I purchased ready-made.  Most, I created myself.  I love making the hats!!! 

 

When I visit the assisted living residence, I bring the collection of hats, as well as a few velvet or taffeta & lace (shoulder-covering) collars.   The ladies have a hat to wear while I talk.  Then, after the presentation, we take photos of each of them wearing the hat and a collar (to cover their modern clothes).  Our son photoshops them into aged sepia and then puts each into inexpensive frames and then gives to the gals.  The ladies are getting quite a collection of photos!!  We keep a record so that no lady has her photo taken in the same hat more than once.

 

I have a heavy history in theater design and costuming, and I have been sewing since I was young. 

 

Right now, I have two dressmaker forms, in our loft.  One is wearing the beginnings of an Edwardian taffeta evening ensemble (in a deep wine-tone) and the other a mid-Victorian hoop skirt and waist (in dark blue cotton with tiny cream flowers).  There is never enough time to spend just sewing!!  

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Old 02-18-2014, 03:40 PM
 
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That sound really interesting and something I would love to see! The whole underpant/bathroom use issue would be one of my questions too!

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Old 02-18-2014, 06:53 PM
 
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Indeed. Using the bathroom in my not-overly-poofy wedding dress required a fair bit of forethought and worry; I can only imagine trying to use a Victorian-era WC with a crinoline! 

 

Grahamsmom, that's such a cool hobby! I have corset boning languishing in my sewing cupboard - bought it a few years back, got pregnant, and then never got around to re-drafting the pattern. I'm not quite at the stage of sewing Victorian clothes just yet, I don't think, but one day when my sewing improves--! 

 

And your cedar wardrobe sounds AWESOME. So does the christening gown. My latest Ottobre magazine had two patterns for christening gowns - heirloomish, but they could be gussied up even further if one were so inclined. I got all excited until I remembered we're Baptists. :lol


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