Wearing Historical Clothing

Wearing Historical Clothing

As an historical mystery author, when it came to picking my “author outfit” I knew immediately I wanted to dress like my characters. Not only is this beneficial for research—is a corset really uncomfortable?—but it gives me the confidence I need as an introvert to go out there and talk about my books. 😉

Photo taken by Angus Meredith on our farm outside Spokane.

For those looking to learn more about wearing historical clothing today, I recommend you visit Recollections, which is where I buy all my author outfits. They have a fabulous blog attached to their site for historical research.

(I am not related or affiliated with Recollections—I just love their clothes!)

Photo taken by Angus Meredith on our farm outside Spokane.

Many of my descriptions of chatelaines, corsets, mattresses, and everyday life in the Gilded Age were inspired by Sarah A. Chrisman’s This Victorian Life. The Chrismans are modern-day “historical ambassadors” who live their lives as close to an 1889 lifestyle as possible, from clothing to furniture, baking to cleaning. You can learn more about them and their fabulously interesting life at thisvictorianlife.com. You can find many of my favorite videos by Sarah on my YouTube channel.

It is thanks to Sarah Chrisman’s book Victorian Secrets that I tried wearing a corset at all. I’ve always suffered from back problems, and taking on the role of writer hasn’t helped. After reading her book, I ordered a corset, making sure to get one that fit my body type and that would support my back. Now, whenever my back hurts, I pull on my corset—and, lo and behold, it does help!

The support it offers is amazing, and although I have no medical knowledge behind my assertions, I swear it does help my posture, and thereby, my back problems. I should probably wear it more often than I do, in fact.

The key to wearing a corset is wearing it correctly. Let me say that again: the key to wearing a corset is wearing it CORRECTLY.

Tying a corset too tight is NOT healthy, just like wearing the incorrect bra can sorely affect you. For those who are looking for an argument concerning corsets, I recommend you visit Sarah Chrisman’s site. She’s done a far better job than I collecting the facts in support of wearing a corset. I’ve also found some fabulous videos on YouTube by people like Bernadette Banner, Abby Cox, and Sarah Chrisman herself.

Photo taken by Angus Meredith on our farm outside Spokane.

You’ll notice my hat includes peacock feathers, which are actually from the peacocks that grace our beautiful farm! Peacocks molt naturally every summer, so the kids and I collect them and use them to make all sorts of things, from earrings to wreaths.

I’ll share more about the ring, brooch, and diary I’m holding in a later blog, but I will say they’re family heirlooms! Not pictured is also my pocket watch, which I love because it looks like something my clockmaker character, Archie Prescot, might have designed. But more on that later…

For now, I’ll leave you with this thought: dressing in Gilded Age clothing has given me confidence and benefited my health. How do your clothes affect you?

I’ll be back with more about my research for my book, Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Taker, next month! Thanks for reading!

Photo taken by Angus Meredith on our farm outside Spokane.

7 Replies to “Wearing Historical Clothing”

  1. Love this post! I firmly believe in wearing what helps you feel successful.
    As a former theater costumer, I love the look of corsets. Having worked with lots of corset makers and wearers, I can tell you that the most important things for new corset wearers to remember are: get the right corset for its purpose; get it fitted correctly; and to plan on corset training. Training means to wear it early on in your process (don’t wait till the first day of the convention or writers’ event), and wear it for increasing lengths of time over days, even weeks.
    Most of the actors I worked with absolutely loved their corsets given the above caveats.

  2. I have watched both of your KREM interviews and wouldn’t have guessed you feel somewhat of an introvert. I think the costumes look wonderful on you. I just started reading your book and it’s hard to
    put down; our book group chose it for our next selection. Can’t wait for your book two! You have certainly done a lot of research which helps make the story more interesting.

    1. Thank you so much! You’re too sweet. 🙂 I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book. That’s wonderful to hear a book group is reading it! Be sure to email me when you’ve finished the book if your group would be interested in a virtual Q&A with the author. 😉 I’d love to hear what you all thought and answer any questions you might have. Thank you for reading!

  3. I would live to have a field trip to Spokane this spring, Are there any historical costuming groups having any events ,in the near future?

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