My most favorite words of advice concerning costuming came from a very lovely and talented milliner named Rita Smith. While talking hats one day she spoke words into my life that forever changed how I looked at my costuming. To paraphrase...If you want your hat (or costume) to look over 100 years old, you need to add to it elements from the past. An antique ostrich plume, a vintage velvet rose, an antique brooch or buckle, vintage laces and trims. That will make the hat (or costume) that you made "now" look like it was made "then"! I glommed on to those words and ever since have striven, with the use of antiques and vintage pieces, to make my outfits look like they stepped out of a fashion plate or antique photo!
A long time ago, I started collecting Victorian and Edwardian mourning paraphernalia and so have a lovely stash from which to choose my accessories for this dress.
One of the reasons I chose to make this outfit "Half Mourning" is because I love the look of the white on top of the black and because most of my mourning accessories have gold on them. I have a few gutta-purcha and jet pieces, but I really love my other pieces! The buttons on my bodice are probably glass, but look like jet. They are faceted so they really sparkle!
My fabulous friend Josie, purchased this beautiful antique lace collar at an antique shop in Texas. In researching my accessories for this project, I found many inspiration photos...here and here,
I was shopping at a local thrift store one day and low and behold these fabulous black boots literally jumped off the shoe rack and tackled me to the ground! Huzzah! They are leather and look as if they were custom made as there is no maker's mark on them and on both soles is a lady's name. I couldn't believe my fortune when I saw they were $5.00! OHMYGOSH!! I barely contained my excitement as I knew they would be perfect for my mourning dress! Research lead me here, here, and here. I love the style and look of my boots and oh my good golly gosh are they so comfortable!!!
For a brooch, I really wanted to use this one, but I ran out of time to take it in to the Jeweler's Bench so it could have a pin affixed to the back. It is a fabulous piece that I found on ebay a few years ago. Morning Glory Jewelry is a wealth of information on Victorian Hair Jewelry!
If I can't get my hair brooch into the jewelers, I will go ahead and wear this vintage cameo. I seriously doubt if it is from the 1860s, but it is antique and I have found several CW images where ladies are wearing huge cameos...In The Swan's Shadow has a fabulous image of a lady wearing a nice sized brooch. Another gi-huge-ic brooch can be seen in this image from ebay. It's not a cameo, but is nice and big. Here is another large brooch.
I adore these earrings. I do need to take then in and have them converted back into drop earrings as the previous owner made them into screwback earrings...grrrrrr.....but that's ok! Ruby Lane has a most wonderful pair of 1860 earrings!
I was the happy winner on this ebay handkerchief purse. There is a most fabulous mourning site called 19th Century Art of Mourning. On this site Georgia (I believe that's her name....) shares her fabulous collection of mourning things. Here you can see a picture of her wearing a handkerchief purse like mine....and of course I'll have my deep black bordered handkerchief to wipe my tears away...
I will also be carrying my tear bottle to catch whatever tears escape my handkerchief! Lachrymatory or tear bottles were used to catch the tears of widows or those grieving the loss of a loved one. My bottle is missing its stopper, but it is still so very lovely! 19th Century Art of Mourning has this fabulous page of tear catchers!
Ebay came through a while ago with this great Memorial Die Cut. It may just have to be clutched in my hand to remind me of my "cousin Joseph" who was "murdered by that vile evil creature who is going to be hung"!!!
For my belt, which will be made of grosgrain ribbon, I purchased this fabulous buckle for myself as an early birthday present! It is made of Gutta Percha and is simply gorgeous! I was shocked to see a similar one on the 19th Century Art of Mourning website...left hand side almost down at the bottom! Too cool!
Finally, I will probably carry this 1860s ambrotype. The lady and gentleman in the picture are very distant relatives of mine on my Daddy's side! Pretty cool huh? My sweet Grandad gave me about 10 of these for one of my birthdays! Ah, he knew my heart so well!
Before Friday evening, I still have to tack down the lace collar to the bodice, sew on two pieces of boning to my side seams on the bodice, sew black lace onto the white undersleeves and attach to bodice and find some grosgrain ribbon for my belt. Then, I think I'll be ready for Frightened Felons! This is going to be such fun!!