Reenacting is a fun and rewarding hobby. Whether you portray famous historical figures or your own fictional character, reenacting is a form of time travel for those of us who feel they were born in the wrong era. However, reenacting can be overwhelming and very expensive. I hope through this blog to help those new to the hobby, or even those veteran reenactors, to enjoy reenacting without breaking the bank. Blog posts will address things like developing your character, traditions and etiquette for different time periods, and affordable but accurate clothing options. So step back in time to days gone by...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thrifty Reenacting-Accurately!

For some reason this post disappeared from my blog so I am reposting it.
Over the past few weeks I have shared several of my thrifty reenacting moments.
For those entering this hobby I thought I would share some helpful hints.
First and foremost-know your stuff!
This is cheap to do since we now have access to so much information with the Internet.
One of my favorite places to find pictorial information is the 'images' link on Google.
It's free and there are thoussands of antique photos and fashion plates from the different eras.
There are also many websites with historial information to accompany photographic documentation of fashions.
I am going to refer to the mid-19th century era on this post but all of this applies to the era of your choice whether it be Regency or the Roaring 20's.
In my opinion photographic evidence is important as it does not fall prey to personal opinion or speculation on fashion.
Antique photos and pictorial excerpts from sources like Godeys and Petersons magazines are indisputable as to the true fashions of the day.
Another wonderful source are museum exhibits like the one currently at the Charleston museum.
Once you have researched and studied your fashion era then begin the hunt.
Learn the styles well so that you will not mistakingly purchase something that looks the part but may not be accurate. Purchasing historic reproduction clothing can be very expensive so you do not want to invest in the wrong thing.
Do not rely on movies or TV shows as your resource! There is nothing worse than showing up to a living history event after spending a fortune on a movie style dress just to learn it is incorrect.
So lets begin with the basics.
Learn your personna. Determine if you were rich, middle class, or poor.
Your class level determines the fashions you wore (that's why I portray a wealthy woman-the dresses are prettier:).
Next, choose a style of dress that appeals to you.
If you are purchasing a dress find a reputable vender.
If you are making a dress find a suitable pattern for your sewing level and that is historically accurate.
Truly Victorian, Past Patterns, and Simplicity are some of the ones I have seen used (I use Simplicity but may try the Truly Victorian line of patterns after getting the recommendation from a friend).
Now you need to find the right fabric. Do not choose a fabric just because you like the print and color as many of todays bright, bold colors and wild prints may not have been available back then.
 Generally speaking plaids and calicos are the safest bet. Basic colors like blue, burgundy, brown, green, and gold are a good place to start.
Although many reenactors insist on historic fabric make-up (cottons, silks, taffetas, wools) I often go for the blends that have the same look. It's up to you:).
Check your local fabric store for sale fabrics but don't forget that many people donate fabric to thrift stores too ( I found 11 yards of red tartan for $6).
Also check thrift stores for lace collars and trimming like silk or grosgain ribbon.
Belts, buckles, and shoes can also be found at thrift stores and yard sales in period styles for a low price tag.
It is important to know your style before you begin so that you can recognize similar styles that can be adapted from modern day clothing. This is how you save money!
Learn your style and your personna...
but most important is to have fun!
All photos were taken at the Charleston Museum.


  1. One of your best posts yet! Great education plus very interesting. I've got homework to do:)

  2. Great informative post! Thankyou ;-)
    Also beautiful pictures, thankyou for them too!
    Blessings, Linnie

  3. Hi Kim,

    Great post. It's so true, you have to really immerse yourself in your preferred period so that you can spot when something is not quite right!


  4. Beautiful dresses! I am hoping to go see the Conspirator this week. What scene should I look for you and your hubby in?

  5. really like the browns!!!

    So glad you shared these pretty dresses. It's neat to see actual dresses from a time gone by.

    After seeing so many sloppy jeans and baggy tee-shirts, I wish more wore dressier clothing out in public for the here and now.

    God bless,