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Having Fun with Costuming
Preparations for March 9 - The Men
By Marc Casslar of The Vintage Dance Society
As you look for the appropriate attire for
March 9 the first question is, of course, "What should I wear?"
followed by - "What did the men of Jane Austen's period wear?"
The answer to the first question is easy - whatever you are comfortable
wearing. The second question is somewhat more difficult - we have to look at the years represented and your position in society.
For men with a basic wardrobe at their disposal (business attire and weekend
variations), I would recommend keeping it simple. Perhaps a dark suit
or dark slacks and a dark sport coat, a white or lightly colored shirt
and a tie. If you have one, a bow tie is a nice addition. To men who own a more varied collection, I would recommend a tuxedo or
"white tie and tails."
There are a few easy changes men with a more adventurous spirit might make. Perhaps the lady in your life is willing to put in some extra effort.
First, you could add a vest. It could be dark, light or even brightly
colored. The "higher" the vest is cut or the more buttons it has the
better. Next replace the tie with a cravat. A cravat
is a piece of cloth 2-4 inches wide and about three feet long. It
can be made of almost any fabric and color. It could even be made of lace for an extra
bit of flair.
Tying a cravat is fairly simple, but a little hard to
describe. Be prepared to bring it on the 9th and get a quick lesson
on the spot. If you would like to try in advance, here goes. Start by
folding it lengthwise so that it is only about two inches wide. Then, holding
the fabric in front of your neck wrap it once around so the ends are
again in front. Now, tie it like a bow tie or with a half knot. If the
ends are long they can be tucked into the vest. If tied with a half
knot, a stick pin or tie pin at the knot is a nice touch.
For men more adventurous still, pants could be
replaced by knee breeches with knee socks/stockings. Dark pants with white
socks or stockings are preferred. "Stretch" pants with under-foot loops (they
look just like woman's stirrup pants) are also an option. Baseball socks work very well for the knee socks/stockings.
A good period look is pants (normal, stretch, knickers), a white shirt
(collared, wingtip, or collarless), a vest (black or colored), a black
tail coat, and cravat. For those that would like to wear "period"
attire or go a few extra yards (so to speak), please call (860-
286-9191) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me to discuss options.
Before you start to worry, I would like to tell you a story. A
number of years ago I was attending a formal 1860's ball. Shortly after
the ball began I noticed a man standing at the door. He was looking in
and looking quite concerned. I should point out that he was wearing
khaki pants and an Hawaiian shirt. He stood there for quite a few
I went over and asked if I could be of assistance. He told me
that he had bought a ticket for the ball; however, when he asked someone
about attire they responded with - Oh! Don't worry, anything festive. He
told me that he felt a little foolish walking in to a room filled with
men in white tie and tails and ladies in ball gowns, dressed as he was.
I told him that he did not need to worry; he was welcome however he was
attired. After a few minutes of chatting he decided to come in. He had a great time and made many friends that evening. The
moral? It is more important to come to the party than to spend all
evening worrying about what to wear.
Check here for suggestions for the Ladies