Monday, October 17, 2011
An Elegant Victorian Era
The Prattville Dragoons annual Christmas banquet will be held on Friday December 9th at the beautiful historic Buena Vista mansion in Prattville. In preparation for this annual camp social gathering, my wife and I decided to follow the example of some attendees from last year who wore period dress to the banquet. I am not a reenactor so I didn't feel comfortable donning a Confederate uniform as undoubtedly I would not have accurately depicted the period uniform and with the fabulous job reenactors do in presenting historically accurate depictions, I did not feel I could do that justice. So I opted for civilian dress. Wool was the predominant material for men's trousers and coats; long fitted frock coats were used for more formal occassions. Cravats were used and tied as bowties and scrunchie ties and were made of cotton and silk and satin. Beautiful top hats and dress gloves were standard apparel but I don't look good in hats so decided against those dress appointments. But, I was more excited about choosing a gown for my wife. The hoop skirts and bodice were elegant apparel for a long ago time of romance and fairy tales (if it wasn't for the terrible carnage of the ongoing War Between the States). I looked for hours at websites which offered beautiful tailored dresses and ultimately found Recollections. They have a "Civil War" section which provided some historical facts about women's dress of the 1860s. Wealthy ladies would sometimes change attire five times during the day wearing a day dress, a walking dress, evening dress, ball gowns as well as their night time sleeping gown. The large hoop skirts often took up to 5 yards of fabric to cover the entire circumference. Of course the tragic death toll claiming over 600,000 lives on both sides of the Mason Dixon line meant black mourning dresses were common place. For my wife, we chose a beautiful ball gown called the Amorette inspired by fashion of this period and perfect for a holiday gathering. "Simmering teal taffeta is embellished with a rich flocked velvet design on this Civil War inspired off the shoulder gown. Plush black velvet trims out the neckline and velvet bows top the short sleeves at the shoulders. A wide velvet belt accents the waist. The very full floor length skirt is generous enough to accomodate a hoop and deep fringe sets off the overskirt. The bodice and belt both button up the back." I can't wait to escort my beautiful wife in this stunning elegant ball gown to the Christmas banquet.