In the mood to play dress-up? Do you have a Christmas party coming up and a hankering to attend as Elizabeth Bennett (or Darcy, for that matter)? It isn’t so very hard to put a costume together, even with the problem of obtaining period shoes, shawls, jewelry, and hats. You can do a lot by using a little ingenuity.
The easiest solution is to have your costume made. I made a quick list of costumers I am aware of. I know there are more, and a little internet searching would find them.
Seamstresses: The one I used for the beautiful gown I have and wore at a Beau Monde Function is Ute Forlano of Dragonfly Formals: http://www.dragonflyformals.com/
She still has a page showing the gown she made for me, by the way! Just click on the little purple button on the Welcome page that says “Laurie” on it.
Others are available, but of course, I have not tried them. Here are some:
http://www.historyinthemaking.org/index.htm (includes gentlemen’s costumes)
http://stores.ebay.com/Period-Goods_W0QQssPageNameZstrkQ3amefsQ3amesstQQtZkm (An ebay store—this costumer has good feedback)
If you make the costume yourself, you will need the pattern and the supplies. If you are a novice sewer, as I am, you probably want to find a simple pattern that isn’t period authentic (i.e. regarding the cut of the garment, where the seams are, how it is finished inside, the exact style of closures, etc.). Being a dreamer (I dream that someday I will sew that gown!) I am a collector of patterns, material, trims, shawls, hat forms…you get the idea. So I thought that I would make a list of sources I have at hand.
For the pattern: the “big” pattern makers as McCalls and Simplicity have made Regency “costume” patterns, although I am not sure what ones are in print right now. It is worth a search for one. But there are other patterns available. The first that comes to mind is one which was designed by Jennie Chancey of Sense and Sensibility Patterns. http://www.sensibility.com/
The second place to identify a pattern to purchase is at The Great Pattern Review.
These pattern reviews are unfortunately not listed by period but by maker, so it takes a bit of looking to find the Regency pattern reviews. Folkware has an empire gown pattern that has been favorably reviewed, and be sure to look at La Mode Bagatelle Regency wardrobe pattern. There are many patterns in the GPR for the gentlemen, too.
You will want to do a lot of surfing to research styles if you aren’t already familiar or aren’t sure what you want, whether you plan on sewing your costume yourself or not. There are lots of sources of costume prints in the internet, and there are also period portraits—possibly the best resources of all.
Finding fabrics, shoes, hats, gloves, parasols…well, I’m afraid I’ll have to leave that for another time.