Tags: fashion history

e. st v. millay

Did pretty well today.

I put in a decent amount of work into the Worth blog post - some of it writing, some of it basically note-taking/outlining. Then I also wrote a BadHistory post about that MessyNessyChic article on Margaine-Lacroix's "body-con" dresses in 1908, which was satisfying.

I also sewed the side seams in both my petticoats - 3 60" panels, which might be too much but I can always take some kind of dart/tuck in them if I have to, Liz Clark's instructions call for 120"-180" and I was like "I'd rather have it than want it" - and put in two tucks around the bottom, and then ironed them down. It's looking good for me to gather them to waistbands tomorrow! Although I don't want to think about gathering 180" ... these may be stroked gathers with one row of stitches.

Will I put the zipper in my dress this weekend and hem it? I would like to think so, but I'm not optimistic.

Oh, btw! I finally got registered for The Sewing Academy. I don't actually have anything to say, but I love knowing that I can now say it if I want to.

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e. st v. millay

Haven't posted in a few days

My dress is almost done - just need to do the finishing and fastenings. Hopefully that will be something I can do in one sitting. (Oh, and I think I'm probably going to reattach the skirt in the back because of Issues.) Now I'm obsessing about shoes and hair. I've got dye and such coming to blacken my Tissots and I need to move the buttons as well. I've got black plumes to put in my hair but I'm at a total loss as to how I'm going to do that. I know a late teens-early '20s hairstyle that I'll be doing, but I'm not sure how to incorporate the plumes. If I can't, I guess ... I'll sell them? I don't want them around if they're not useful to me. If only I had a black hat - I'd just put them on it. But my only black hat is a cloche.

The other day I was getting all :( over how there are always period-specialists who are better than me at their own time periods, but I brought myself back up by realizing that when it comes to generalists, I'm doing pretty well. Not to brag. But you know how my self-esteem is.

A different day someone on Tumblr posted a link to an article their friend wrote about C.F. Worth, and I kind of ... did a Chanel over it? D: I didn't mean to, I started to just reblog the link with general praise (because it was really well-written) but then I started questioning some of the assumptions the writer made - that's the trouble with citing regularly, when one section has no citations it really makes you start to wonder where they found it and why they didn't cite - and then the assumptions fashion historians make as a body about Worth. There doesn't seem to be really a good, factual analysis out there of what the Parisian fashion industry was like in the 1840s and 1850s, in terms of price and name-recognition/prestige and dressmaker income. A lot of the time the definition of "haute couture" as invented by Worth feels very very vague, almost as though (like the controversy over "behavioral modernity") we define this change by Worth so that Worth can be described as its inventor, and some of it feels like just the fact that a ~man was now involved is the main dividing line between "just small-time, unknown dressmakers" and "TRUMPETS SOUNDING A WHOLE NEW ERA".

Anyway I worry that she now feels like I'm a dick.

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e. st v. millay

I'm so behind in blogreading, too

A couple of days ago, I was waffling over "should I do this corset thing as blog posts, or would it be more responsible to try to publish them?" And what it comes down to for me is:

Published in journal-
Pro: Put on resumé
Con: Unsure if Dress or a women's studies would want it as is, limited readership

Publish on blog-
Pro: Can link to it, can have it up once it's done, immediate feedback
Con: Feel like everyone but me is making professional gains and feel like even writing very good blog posts is not good enough

I go by numbers and not length of whines, so I am almost definitely going to just post it because in the end that seems the most rewarding. I will always be judging myself based on my classmates and always finding myself lacking. I have a book coming out and probably another one later plus that first one that's already done, if that's not good enough for me then having an article in a journal is not going to do it. Move on, Cassidy!

I'm going back and forth on putting works cited at the end of each post. On the one hand,months ago, around the time I posted my Queen Victoria myths post, someone wrote something on their own blog with a prefatory paragraph along the lines of "I see people taking posts seriously when they don't have footnotes/citations and a bibliography, and you should know that that's not academic." And I of course became irrationally concerned that this was pointed at me, and I started obsessively sourcing every factual statement and linking to the specific page in the book when possible. I resist doing bibliographies because I usually use a zillion sources - I go for primary sources and generally end up never finding two facts in one book. But at a glance, it's not clear that I'm linking to GBooks rather than random internet pages. Hm. I think I just use too many sources to create a bibliography for in a blog post.

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e. st v. millay

1817, now

Okay, here's an odd thing. I concluded in my thesis based on a lot of sources that French and English fashion divided during the Napoleonic Wars, and so far I think that's probably still true. But based on only a couple of sources (no American fashion plates = harder to research specifically American fashion trends) I decided that American dress followed English during that period ... but based on the two patterns I've done since that, it looks like American dress probably followed French. Although probably by the time I exhaustively go through La Belle Assemblée again I'll discover I was wrong about English dress as well.

Basically everything I concluded in my thesis I've discovered is wrong by now, btw. And the outfit I made for it doesn't fit well, either. /o\ (Also, it has giant yellowed blotches up and down the skirt, no clue how they got there, did I mention I took Advanced Conservation I?)

I have so nothing to talk about these days because all I do is watch old SVU and save fashion plates to my hard drive. Over a thousand by now, btw. Hey, but this episode mentioned that the victim's parents live in "a small town near Saratoga"!

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e. st v. millay

I crave caramel

Frustration. io9 did a great article on the impact of corsets on the human body with, like, serious scholarly citations and all, and of course there are still people in the comments who know everything about how corsets work because they watched Gone With the Wind. (One told me, when I pointed out the value in debunking the OTT Victorian-era health claims while acknowledging the real issues, that nobody nowadays ever believes the OTT ones. L. O. L.) And recently I've had several discussions with people about historical dress where when I say a thing people who know about my degree are like, no, you're wrong, because I just know it. It just builds up and makes me want to smack someone.

What's doubly frustrating for me is the implication some people make that pointing out that corsets don't cause consumption, etc. is advocating for everyone to wear them. Beyond implication, some people were outright stating that interpretation, and it's idiotic if you read the article itself. But the thing is - feminism is stronger than that. It doesn't fall apart because you point out that corsets didn't kill. Making that concession doesn't force you to back up and drop everything achieved over the past century.

These macarons are SO GOOD. But the hard part is that, since I know how sugary they are, I limit myself to one at dinner and one at lunch - but my habit with cookies is always two at a time, so when I eat one I still have this gnawing yearning for a second and NO. NO. That is not allowed.

The London Book Fair is this weekend. My fingers are crossed.

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e. st v. millay

I've been so sleepy all day

I have become completely entranced by this iTunes U podcast from Yale on the early Middle Ages. I listen to it all day at work, seriously, for hours. (Does this link work?) The professor is such a good speaker and is clearly so knowledgeable about the minutia of the field ... it's wonderful. Plus, it's an eternal lecture with no discussion section where I am never expected to speak up, what could be better?

I did Challenging the Canon the other day, and that was shorter but equally fascinating.

Listening to podcasts has brought me back to my fashion history podcast/YouTube lecture idea. I've come much farther in my script/notes for the first one, and have a list of images to use for illustration as well ... but I hate my voice, it's so high-pitched. Still, I think I would be good at it in general (she said modestly). Also, I just found out that LACMA, at least, has a collection of public domain photos on Wikimedia, yay!

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e. st v. millay

cross your fingers for me, please

So I recently joined the Fashion Historians Unite group on FB, at the suggestion of a new friend from the Museum-L list (see, one good thing did come out of it). And today, the special collections at FIT account posted a link to a blog post about Galerie des Modes, where they said they wanted to publish a translation someday. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just sent them a message through Facebook to say, "OMG DO YOU REALLY WANT TO I'VE ALREADY DONE IT WILL YOU MAKE IT INTO A BOOK???" (only more calmly).

If they respond positively, this could be what I need.


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e. st v. millay


Finished translating vol. 3 of GdM! It was an interesting ride. Losing those original articles made the plates less useful - I loved getting the information about where the names of styles came from without having to figure out who this or that reference is - and the captions themselves slowly began to be less informative, nattering on about the women being aloof to their lovers with "oh yeah that's a dress" tacked on at the end. But then, in retrospect, the gowns got less trimmed and the different types of dress faded away, really just leaving anglaises and maybe fourreaux. (Speaking of fourreaux, I'm getting more and more convinced that they really are back-lacing gowns.) So they didn't have as much to say. But finally at the end the lover talk slowed down and I started getting close-up looks at hats. So I'm feeling good.

I do wonder why I can't find the original text anywhere for the 3rd and 4th volumes. I even found the plates on ... the Versailles catalogue site? and they had the same collected info from other magazines and the Tableau de Paris. I have to wonder if maybe the magazine itself stopped printing side text? Does that make sense?

Also, everyone's talking about court gowns for Costume College next year - I looked ahead and there are a few cahiers on that towards the end of volume 4. So stay tuned!

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e. st v. millay

I feel 15 again

Hulu Plus is running like crap all the time lately. I can't tell if it's weather-related or if Hulu Plus just runs like crap.

Just stumbled across this collection of drawings by Henri Bendel from the early 20th century. Unfortunately not all of them have the designers written on them, and most of the ones with designers written on them don't seem to have that included in the description, so they're minimally searchable ... but it's still great.

So I've listened to the Newsies Broadway soundtrack, and I have to say that I don't think it's as good as the original. Collapse )

The addition of Katherine was a good idea, though. I liked Sarah, but she was too passively not a part of the story. But she contributes to the issue, too, because her voice absolutely anti-wows me.

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e. st v. millay

Eating cherries

Set my next/last patterning appointments! On June 14 I'm going to Cherry Hill, to pattern what I'm told is a pink 1790s spencer (EXCITING). On the 28th I'm going to NYSHA/the Farmers' ('s?) Museum, for a floral brocaded mantua (N.210.62), a more heavily quilted pink petticoat (N.66.87), something ca. 1770 that was fucked with around 1800 (N.72.75), and a white satin gown and petticoat, maybe a française? (N.2.71) (it's a terrible picture and it's not in the box well).

Going through some early 1920s women's magazines - Lady's Home Journal and Good Housekeeping, which I think are good barometers of the Average Woman's Known Designers - to note the names. I'm not 100% on what I'm doing with this, but part of it is noting which are used the most and trying to figure out their dates. Unfortunately, the side effect of "CHANEL WAS THE TOP" is that the actual tops of the earlier part of the decade are basically completely unfindable. I've got one source that tells me Jenny was Jenny Levine and was active 1908-1938, and I have no idea if it's remotely right.

Put together the side panels, which should hopefully be the most tricky bit with the gathering and all. If I'm lucky, I'll get most of this done this weekend. Fingers crossed.

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