I want to wear a petticoat.
November 7, 2013 3:26 PM   Subscribe

History/literature freak here. For the longest time, I've harbored a secret desire to go, in full costume, to an "historical" event that was 100% historically accurate. Where should I look?

For example, a grand 18th Century dinner at Versailles, a Jane Austen-esque party or ball, a pioneer event of some type, a 1940s swing dance/lindy hop event where everyone's actually wearing 40s attire. Ren faires and Civil War reenactments really don't float my boat, however.

Are there any events in the U.S. midwest/south or Eastern Canada/Quebec/Ontario that fit the bill? What about Europe? Requirements:
a) participants must wear costumes, and
b) event must be as historically accurate as possible.
posted by Miss T.Horn to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: P.S. The ultimate would be a Downton Abbey-like situation, or something like 1900 House.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 3:30 PM on November 7, 2013

To clarify, would you be into a ball/dance/party of the Civil War era? (So, it's just the battle reenactments specifically that you want to exclude?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:43 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: Here's a list of Regency balls.

Commonwealth Vintage Dancers and a list of vintage dance groups.
posted by asperity at 3:48 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For example, Civil War Dance is the site of a historical recreation dance group (Victorian Dance Ensemble) based at Gettysburg PA. They have a range of events.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check out Capering and Kickery as one starting point. It's a blog by a social dance historian who goes around to some events like this. I once attended a talk she gave about accuracy in recreating Regency menswear, so I suspect at least some of the things she goes to will be solidly on point.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2013

Response by poster: Yes, Civil War-era balls are fair game, though I have mixed feelings about antebellum plantation reenactment-type things.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: The Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:16 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: I've never been, but I've heard good things about Great Dickens Christmas Fair
posted by tinymegalo at 4:31 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Period Events & Entertainments Re-Creation Society, Inc. (aka PEERS) organizes events like this monthly in San Francisco. I have a number of friends who belong to the Society.

If that's too far a trip, they may also be able to tell you what local equivalents are in your area.
posted by Mad_Carew at 4:50 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Jazz Age Lawn Party might fail to be 10% historically accurate, let alone 100%. It's fun and people are in costumes but it strains credibility to claim it's "historical".
posted by telegraph at 5:02 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Um I'll put in a plug for Colonial Williamsburg. You would not be out of place walking around in a costume.
posted by tooloudinhere at 7:26 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: I've been to a Civil War ball run by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, and it was pretty amazingly awesome. No character playing, but FULL costume, a period collation, a spoken performance, and plenty of period-style interaction even without being in full character. Accurate dances and music, each dance taught. A blast.
posted by Miko at 8:21 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

This might be too Ren-Faire for you and I don't know if England is in your travel plans but there are a few medieval banquets that you can go to (here's one) in full dress and eat in a castle lit by torchlight. I did that with my parents as a teenager and even as a jaded teen, it was pretty cool. I believe we went to a shop which specialized in renting full costumes which were really great - headdresses and petticoats and accessories. You were given a big knife and nothing else for eating your dinner. May have even been escorted in horse drawn coach from the parking area.
posted by amanda at 9:02 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Since I see it mentioned by tinymegalo: I do love the Dickens Faire but it's not '100% historically accurate' by a long ways. Many of the actors and actresses who go in costume do go in highly accurate and specific costumes. But there's no WAY the event as a whole is - it's much more Ren Faire style, kind of historicalesque.
posted by Lady Li at 9:23 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: ...or something like 1900 House.

Tim Moore wrote an amusing book called I Believe In Yesterday about hanging out with historical reenactors of various types. In the last chapter he writes about attending the Great Annual Re-Creation at Kentwell Hall in England where 700 or so people live a Tudor life-style for a week. It sounds pretty full immersion and, frankly, rather awesome. So if you want to really go for it this might be something to look into.
posted by shelleycat at 4:10 AM on November 8, 2013

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