Faux pas: a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct; an embarrassing social blunder or indiscretion.
Just because you find historically documented proof of something being from the past, be it a dressmaking technique, hair style, manner of speaking, etc., doesn’t mean you *should* use it in your costuming.
I mean, really, do we *want* a corset line under our dresses? Do we want a saggy bag of a dress hanging from our shoulders? Do we want to jump off the same cliff as Bella?
Think back to your younger years. What was the fashion? How about the hair? Would you want to wear those things again? Like, wear them exactly as you did before? Or improve on them with what’s available today?
It’s like how the 1970s and 1980s fashions are being repeated in current fashion trends. Modern fashion designers aren’t trying to duplicate the originals exactly. They tweak and use contemporary materials and fit. Of course it is fashion repeating itself.
This IS and IS NOT what we are trying to do in our hobby of historical costuming. Those of us who adore fashions of the past want to duplicate them. To bring them to life because we LOVE them. In.every.minute.detail.
Others of us simply dream of the past and create those dresses and undergarments and other beautiful things we love through our sewing because we figure that’s as close as we’re gonna get to the romantic past.
However, in our re-creations we don’t always duplicate exactly what we see in historical proofs. Try as we might, we can’t be just like them. No, we take what appeals to us and translate that through our 21st century eyes.
It gets us thinking: do I really want that frizzy hair I see in the photograph? How exactly will a 2″ wide Regency bodice look flattering on this body… even with period shaped undergarments?
We dissect our inspiration then churn it out in some form that represents US – who we are today, in this month, in this year. Those of you who work hard to get as historically accurate as possible do it too.
So what happens when y0u find that side hair part in a 1860s portrait? Do you say “Ha! There’s the proof that it was done!” Then you fly with abandon in promoting it because you found ONE photo.
Sure, it’s proof enough that it was done. But say 200 years from now someone stumbles upon a photo of a guy wearing a tailored Armani suit with a 9″ pink Mohawk. If they are re-creating early 21st C. apparel would you want them to dress as such and say it was the fashion because they found, again, ONE photo?
In studying the past we must remember we look on their society as a whole. What was the norm? What was the general appearance? As humans we want to belong. Following the general path that most people are on is what we naturally do.
Then as we dig down deeper into our research we find those oddities. The side part. The un-corseted lady. The deep V neckline in winter. That’s where the connection to the past lives. And the question of “Why did they do that?” can be answered simply with “personal expression.”
It is my belief to draw from and replicate the “general” fashion styles we find for our chosen time period. Why? Because we are representing their society as a whole at a specific point in history. Even if we are selecting a very particular part of the world – e.g. Pennsylvania Amish.
When we stray just a little with only one photo or extant garment as proof of a certain thing, it belittles their culture. At that point you are merely representing THAT person. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing, just not that it should be shown as the MAIN way of things.
To exemplify a trait, it is wise to gather several articles of proof before representing it to our own current society of what history looked like back then. With more than a few objects of proof, you give honor as a whole to our ancestors. And that, my friends, unites us through the ages. Even with all our individual personality quirks.