Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Ghosts of Costumes Past

Hello again! So sorry for the radio silence; we've been neck deep in 1812 for the past few weeks, but we're back now, and better than ever!  We also have so many updates to fill you in on, but an important holiday must first be recognized.


We thought we would celebrate by reminiscing on some of our first and favorite costumes from our pasts, in order of years...

 In 1988 I wasn't finding and pulling my own Halloween costumes yet, but this pictures shows I clearly got my quirky sense of costume humor from my parents.  My dad, who had a sprained arm at the time, went as a one-armed jack, and my mom, who was extremely pregnant with my brother at the time, went as a bowling ball.

In 1998 Meghan's mom made her and her and brother into the cutest little candies on the block. And then ten years later, the exact costumes were worn my Meghan's mother herself and a friend. Impressive!

In 2007 Sara costume designed her first show, Ragtime, in which she was also an actor. She never seemed to have the time to make costumes for *herself,* but here are her first costumes she made for others!

Sara with her towheaded show family
In 2012, Marilyn made costumes for her granddaughter's Batman themed birthday party, in which her granddaughter was Batgirl and her baby brother was The Boy Wonder.

Na-na-na-na Na-na-na-na Batgirl!

Marilyn and The Boy Wonder

What were your favorite costumes?  Do you make, rent or buy your Halloween costume from year to year?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Flashback Friday: World War II Navy Nurse Re-Enactor

This Flashback Friday comes from an article Marilyn wrote for The Bride Guide in the Prince George's County Women's Journal in 2009:

Reference: Couture Allure Vintage Fashion Blog

The next project to deliver this summer was a World War II Navy Nurse uniform for a re-enactor. Working from period photos, my assistant developed a pattern that was an exact replica complete with the very extended lapel and notching.

My client ordered fabric from the very company that made those uniforms (yes, they're still in business! and still making uniforms from what I understand).  Lots of detail work went into re-creating this uniform and the results were spectacular! At the final fitting my client arrived in jeans and t-shirt.  She went into the dressing room to change into her new uniform and stepped out transformed. It was like a momentary time warp. Needless to say, we were both very happy with the uniform!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

NPR Also Says to Check That Tag

Here in the studio, we love us some NPR.   With the exception of the past week or two, when we've been listening to the complete Harry Potter audiobook series to get us through all the patterning we're doing (just started Book 5!) , we listen to hours upon hours of Diane Rehm, Kojo Nnamdi, Ira Flatow, and all those kooky economists at Marketplace.

So I was pretty excited when I stumbled across this gem from Caitlin Kenney at Planet Money.  Here she investigates why her wedding dress cost the amount it did, and she ultimately decides that she was, in her words, "ripped off."  What I think is most important to take away from this, however, is not as she says to shop around and look for cheaper options.  It is to better understand what to look for to find a quality garment for this incredibly special occasion, or to know what you're buying and why.

In Ms. Kenney's case, she ended up buying a dress that had been mass produced with inexpensive fabrics, and while she was never lied to, she also did not know to ask any of the right questions that could have helped her understand what she was getting into.  Some of these questions we have started to outline in our How to Spot Quality series (see Part I and Part II).  Both industry experts she interviewed assumed her dress had a lower price tag.  But as Ms. Kenney says of her dress shopping experience, "In that kind of atmosphere it never occurs to you to say 'What's this made of? This isn't polyester, is it?"  New wedding dresses are expensive, for the most part for good reason, but they are also an investment.  And like when buying a car, you deserve to know what is going into the product in which you are investing.

Now this is not to say that there is anything wrong with polyester.  Polyester can be fairly convincingly rendered to look and move similarly to more expensive fabrics, for a much lower price.  However, it is imperative to know that that is what you are buying, and not fall into any assumptions about where your dress came from and what it is worth.   In the coming weeks, we will be posting some more from our How to Spot Quality series, so look forward to some more insights and advice from our end, but we would love to hear your stories and learning experiences in the comments as well!