historical fashion


My great aunt gave me this dress, along with a dressing gown of about the same vintage. She wanted me to make some use of it- I will probably try to make a pattern for it, or at least replicate it! It’s in good condition, with some rips and mends from occasional costume use over the years. It is significantly yellowed. Surprisingly, it’s quite large for a surviving garment! I had three inches or so to spare in the waist, minimum, and I have a 32″ waist corseted here.

Undergarments were a ruffled corset cover, 1880′s-ish corset, and a too-long petticoat.

I reckon that it’s early 1900′s? Maybe 1905?

Theories on the costumes for Beauty and the Beast (2017)

So, being a historical costume nerd as well as a Beauty and the Beast super-fan, I naturally was exultant when the first teaser trailer came out for the live action Beauty and the Beast.

Being a costume nerd (and cosplayer, I might add) came with the early decision that when the film came out I would be dressed to the nines in Belle’s ball gown for the night of the premiere. Now, not knowing what exactly Belle’s ball gown would look like led me to great distress, especially after reading the extremely vague accounts of people who attended the D23 expo last August.

With the release of the teaser trailer, two things led me to believe that the costumes (as well as the general styling of the film) were most heavily influenced by 18th century aesthetics, which I will discuss here. The first being the portrait showing the Prince and his parents, dressed in extravagant court uniforms that appear to be early 18th century styles. Focusing mainly on the Queen, her bodice seems to be shaped and adorned similarly to early 18th century court fashions.

One extant (surviving) example from the time period is a Swedish court gown from 1766 which has a 17th century shaping to the bodice and sleeve decoration similar to 18th century court dress. When examined closely, it appears that the sleeve decoration on the Queen’s gown is vaguely similar to that of the real life example.

Going based off of this, later in the trailer when we see Belle’s torso (unfocused) in the background of the rose, her neckline is shaped similarly to later 18th century round gowns, and although it is difficult to make out, the shaped of her bodice may also fit the conical silhouette of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the image below, I have outlined the neckline and my theorized shape of the bodice in red.

(Because of the blurriness of the background, it is difficult to determine the true shape of Belle’s bodice, so this is just one possibility)

Below I have images of a (reproduction) 1780s style corset and an extant example of a round gown, to illustrate the shape and silhouette I believe that Belle’s costumes may have. Note the inverted conical shape of the corset, and the rounded neckline of both the corset and the gown.

Finally, today there were still revealed that showed concept art of Lumiere and Cogsworth, as well as a B-roll image of the inside of the Tavern, where Gaston and Lefou as well as many extras can be seen. While many of the people in the photo are moving, a few characters are still and much can be seen by their costumes. There are two major indicators that I believe confirm my theory that the overall styling of the film will be inspired by 18th century fashion. These are: Gaston’s coat, which is very obviously inspired by 18th century fashion, and the other men in the image, many of which are wearing knee breeches and waistcoats, which is an iconic style of men’s dress form the 18th century.

Finally, while many of the women are in motion and blurred, or far from the camera and difficult to make out, it is possible that they too are dressed in styles influenced by the 18th century as well as wearing conical stays to provide an 18th century silhouette.


So it’s been five years to the day since I started my historical (or, well, historical-ish) Disney princesses series.  I have no idea how it’s been this long – I feel like I drew some of these yesterday – but it seemed as good an opportunity as any to revisit Belle now that I’m five years older and wiser.  And now that I’m way more into the 1780’s/90’s.

I drew that original Belle on a whim, fueled by my sister’s time working as a costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, and assuming it would be a one-off piece.  In the long run, despite all their now egregious flaws, I owe this series for some pretty cool jobs, meeting a ton of cool people, developing an unexpectedly voracious appetite for historical fashion, and eating a fair amount of humble pie along the way.

I think this Belle probably marks the swan song of my historical Disney princess series.  Much as I’d love to continue doing it forever, I’ve got a lot of exciting personal projects that I’m ready to dedicate more of my precious free time to. I’ll probably continue designing this stuff in my off hours – who am I to resist drawing the likes of Slue Foot Sue and Katrina Von Tassel – but I’m going to focus less on polished illustrations, and more on the research and design.  When you get right down to it, that’s the aspect of this stuff that I love. :)

Thanks to everyone who stuck with me over the past five years, and here’s to way more historical fashion in the years to come  I can’t even put into words how lovely y’all’ve been. 

Just a little change. Small, to say the least.


The reason why men’s and women’s shirt buttons are on opposite sides is likely due to the extravagance of the upper class. When buttons were invented around the 13th century, only the wealthy could afford to have them on their clothes, and wealthy women were dressed by their servants, so clothiers started sewing buttons on the other side to make it easier to dress the lady of the house. Source Source 2


I finished another thing! This is a dress made from a pattern by Norah Waugh - it’s called a round robe and based on a gown from the 1790s. It was kind of challenging to put together and I don’t love how it looks from the front, but I’m fond of the silhouette and like how light and summery it is.

It’s made from a striped pale yellow cotton, with a front panel that was formerly a curtain. The bodice is lined with muslin and closes at the front with hooks. The skirt closes with a drawstring - also at the front.

It’s paired with pearls and a straw hat that I altered. 

More photos and construction notes are posted here


More photos of the finished 1890s ensemble! I’m so happy with how this looks and photographs. It turned out exactly I wanted it to, which is the most wonderful feeling!

This costume consists of four main pieces - a skirt, blouse, jacket, and hat. I used faux wool flannel and silk for the vast majority of the ensemble and It was designed, drafted, and made entirely by me.

This project wasn’t difficult, but it did test my patience at times. I’ve never done this much pattern matching before and it was more time consuming than I had expected. I also ran into some road blocks with skills I was unfamiliar with…like making the collar, and designing soutache patterns. But I got it all figured out in the end!

I’ve documented the process in great detail on my blog, those posts can be read here. More photos are posted here, and a video that shows the details and process of getting into this costume is posted here


Tea Gown, House of Worth

France, 1910

Met Museum

Every one knows that a tea-gown is a hybrid between a wrapper and a ball dress. It has always a train and usually long flowing sleeves; is made of rather gorgeous materials and goes on easily, and its chief use is not for wear at the tea-table so much as for dinner alone with one’s family. It can, however, very properly be put on for tea, and if one is dining at home, kept on for dinner. Otherwise a lady is apt to take tea in whatever dress she had on for luncheon, and dress after tea for dinner. One does not go out to dine in a tea-gown except in the house of a member of one’s family or a most intimate friend. One would wear a tea-gown in one’s own house in receiving a guest to whose house one would wear a dinner dress. 

Emily Post, Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home, 1922.