Wearing History – When a Costume Isn’t a Costume

I was listening to “The Gambler” on Pandora the other day, when I thought about something my husband said about Kenny Rogers when we were watching a documentary he was hosting on the Alamo:

Kenny Rogers always looked so good dressed like that [meaning his 19th century western suit]. It just seems very natural for him. I think he wears that better than modern clothes.

I have to say I agree.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter has starred in so many historic movies that she earned the nickname “the corset queen.” Is that because she enjoys making historic movies, or is there something about her that just looks so right in a hat and corseted dress that casting directors have to have her?

Robin @ThriftyVintageChic rocks the 40’s as a re-enactor and incorporates other decades into her modern wardrobe.


My husband and I both feel as if we’re people out of time–as if we weren’t quite made for the modern world. And we’re not alone; my mother has said she feels a strong connection to the 50’s and wishes she had been a teen or young adult during that decade. Other people identify with different decades and feel so at home in the clothing from that period, they either find some way to incorporate it into their everyday dress, or they take up re-enacting.

Me and my husband wearing cotehardies like bosses.

For me, there’s something pleasant about getting into my cotehardie at a reenactment. The sleeves just feel right. The length of the dress and the fullness of the skirt just feel right. My personality shifts to match it–to be a bit more demur, a bit more ladylike. I have even been known to put on a dress when I’m at home and need to get in the mood to sew or do some medieval project (or clean house).

As my husband says, “I don’t think like to think of my medieval clothes as a costume. They don’t feel like a costume to me.”

In Soviet Russia, dress wear you.

Mind you, I don’t do just any century. Part (most?) of the reason why I don’t also do 18th century re-enacting with my husband is I hate the clothes. I feel frumpy, lumpy, and out of joint when I’m wearing 18th century clothes. They’re not flattering on me.

They’re a costume, not clothes.


One comment on “Wearing History – When a Costume Isn’t a Costume

  1. Jim Maher says:

    You’re so right about a costume shifting one’s personality. You can’t help but take on a character when you’re wearing the right costume.

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