It was 11:30pm. I had a lecture the next morning at 9am on historical fencing for the local Jr. High School Charter program. All I had was a court gown and gypsy costumes. That would NOT suffice for a lady fencer.
Materials: two blue bedspreads found at Goodwill, fabric content unknown and don’t care, $7.50 total
Inspiration: English riding habit – lady’s doublet and split front skirt.
Foundations: Tudor conical steel boned corset, short chemise, various cotton underskirts of varying colors, snoods/hairnet, hats, jewelry. No need for farthingale/hoops for this outfit, nor bumroll.
And away I went. Using Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 3: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women C. 1560-1620 I drafted myself, quickly, a doublet and overskirt. It had very Italian inspired attached sleeves and cheap buttons, but I was desperate. Later I modified the outfit with more correct shoulder details, metal buttons, and detachable sleeves, but at the time I was in a great hurry. I had to have something to wear that could pass as historical to a bunch of middle school children, be worn while doing rapier fencing, AND withstand dirt, rain, and anything else that might come my way. And it really has. This outfit has withstood YEARS of being worn to numerous fairs and SCA events, it has been my go-to garb at the Northern California Renaissance Faire for more than 4 years now where I work at the fencing booth… and I am the resident “DYING” girl, as I am given the youngest students that come in and often times I will humor their fantasy and throw myself onto the dirt in death throws while I let them stab me repeatedly. This dress has taken quite the beating. Figuratively AND literally.
Through all this… the dress as remained nearly exactly as it was when I first hastily put it together. Only MINOR repairs here and there.
And you know what? I rather like it. Still. With all it’s imperfections. I get to change out underskirts, hats, and jewelry. Button it up all the way or leave it open – which it’s usually left open when I’m not fencing because it can be so darn warm. It’s versatile and loyal. It’s the BLUE dress.