Friday, September 05, 2008

Its all in the details

It looks as though summer is well and truly over doesn't it? And now I'm about to take a little time off - perfect timing... !

Those of you who know me are aware that alot has changed just recently, and as such we've been to a few events this year as Mops (Member of the Public). Mainly to see what's now happening within re-enactment generally, and to meet up with people I know virtually only online. These events have been both multi-period and medieval. And I have to say that generally, I've been pretty disappointed.

I'm not an authenticity-freak - far from it actually. I realise the limitations that things like budget can present, and so I don't go overboard. But the standards generally, particularly with women's kit, was really disappointing. (Why is this? Women usually care a bit more...) 5 years ago it was much higher. Its all about the detail.

And believe it or not, I'm not talking about having hand-woven trim all over a gown, despite that fact that's what I do! I'm talking about the basic 'look' of an outfit. For instance - a late 15c gown, trimmed in fur. Not enough fur, as the hemline gathered in so the gown did not fall in straight lines. But there was worse to come - over this gown was TWO girdles - one thin leather belt, and over this a wide leather belt. And hanging from the thin leather belt was all manner of bits - including a hunting knife and purse. When have you seen a painting depicting a woman wearing bits hanging from the girdle which is over the gown? With the exception of a rosary (and this hooked over the wide girdle) never. Which is why information on women's purses is so much harder to find then men's. And a hunting knife? Why? No. A woman of the status this re-enactor was supposedly depicting would not have worn this, and any other bits would have been well hidden under the gown, if they were there at all. And this wasn't an isolated incident either. This seems to have been the acceptable norm with the women wearing gowns.

Speaking of gowns, I suspect there's a new pattern doing the rounds, as I've seen quite a few with the same bad cut to the back. It just doesn't have the correct silhouette.

I've seen women in Victorian or Georgian dress, without corsets and slouching terribly. Detail! The dresses look a mess without the correct under support (I even spotted a bra strap!) and Posture! If you're going to wear something with lace and silks (real or otherwise) stand up straight! If you want to slouch, wear something a peasant would wear. And undergarments aren't just important when they are foundation garments - I saw a women on a horse - all posh looking medieval at first glance. Her gown laced up the back, but not tightly. And she wasn't wearing anything underneath so was showing skin!

I've seen horrible cotton velvet - honestly, a rayon velvet would look much more like the real thing. The furs - if you can't afford enough to trim properly - don't use it. Or source one of those excellent fakes which are available today. I've seen some which are so good that anyone just watching you wouldn't know the difference. But the right look can be achieved. I've seen women wearing what's supposed to be posh kit with linen kerchiefs - or worse, nothing covering their heads.

You can see that the medieval re-enactors irritated me the most, being as it's 'my' period, and I suppose this is rather a rant. However, I know, for a fact, that many British re-enactors think that they know it all, and always have it right - and that people in other countries (USA in particular) ALWAYS get it wrong. However, from what I've seen this summer, this really isn't the case.

And by the way - I do know there are some excellent groups out there! And I don't mean you!

Ok, rant over.

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