Saturday, October 13, 2012

An 18th century emergency kit

Dreams and downright nightmares always tend to follow specific, recurrent themes, and judging from my own and my friend's personal experiences, there seem to be at least two rather similar ones that are common among reenactors.

"Oh no, how am I supposed to get into the car now?!"
Number one is "delayed for the ball".
You are on your way to the event of the year, and after the usual, slow dressing procedure you are about to leave, looking great in your best toilette. Or so you thought, for you have somehow managed to forget to do your hair... your poor unkempt tresses are hanging about your face as on a particularly shaggy sheep dog. And not only that – now that you know that you will be delayed by at least one hour, the clock shows that the ball is just about to start...! And you were positively sure that you had plenty of time... Further dressing incidents, delays and agonies usually follow, and you never manage to get to your destination...

Number two is ”the magically disappearing clothing articles”.
Curiously, a friend of mine who has only been to one 18th century ball in her whole life so far, had the following dream several days before the event:
She was at the ball wearing her dress, looking and feeling perfectly all right. When all of a sudden, she discovered that her stays had magically disappeared, leaving her with the bulky look of a Butterick costume from hell. Then she looked down on her feet, and realised with horror that her shoes were gone and that she was walking around in stocking feet – modern sports socks too! - under her fancy skirts...

Those dreams may of course have a much deeper meaning than mere fear of missing a party or fear of looking and feeling more or less awkward and historically incorrect. Still, forgetting basic garments, accessories and details while packing before attending an event IS a nightmarish possibility even in waking life - as every reenactor knows.

"I know I must have forgotten something..."
Due to problems of a logistic nature, I haven't been reenacting a lot lately (which you probably have noticed from my virtually nonexistent blog posts and pictures on the subject.) Something which of course has made me more afraid of forgetting something vital next time... So, I have taken the time to write a list on what should be in every lady's ”18th century emergency kit”:
  1. Pins, needles, safety pins (and maybe even some sewing thread!)
    Sooner or later something will fall off your dress: some trimmings, your stomacher, and if none of that happens, someone will step on your train and rip your dress apart...
  2. Some yards of extra ribbons for corsets and lacings.
    Oh yes, it happened to me once when I was about to put on my green, front laced fran
    รงaise... the ribbon broke (luckily I was able to tie it together and still get it through the lacing holes).
  3. Hairpins, hairpins and tons of hairpins
    Because of the simple fact that late 18th century fashion in particular demands no less of your hair/wig and headwear than to defy the laws of gravity...
  4. A small bottle of hairspray.
    Say no more.
  5. Some yards of extra ribbons for the hair (to bind up and conceal mistakes and potentially missing hairpieces, of course).
  6. Mouches/beauty patches (and maybe some mastix glue). In case your makeup rubs off leaving glowing red patches here and there... and offering a new aquintance a mouche might be the start of a beautiful friendship too, who knows? ;-)
  7. A small set of cards, playing cards, tarot/whatever... a great way to pass time on more quiet occasions. 

    My personal kit.
    So, what do you people keep in your "emergency kits"? And has any of those nightmares about missing pieces ever really come true for anyone of you? As far as I can remember, it has only ever happened to my hair (and several times too!), but that's stuff for a later article...


  1. I enjoy your work and what you post so much, that I have left you an award on my blog.


    1. Glad to hear this. Thank you very much! :-)