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Lessons Learned Spending a Week in Victorian Clothing

I have a regency styled dress that I wear for reader events and occasional author dinners. It's comfortable though not entirely historically accurate. I need help getting into it, but for the most part it's pretty simple.

Of course, I've only ever worn the thing for an hour or two at a time and done little more than stand around and chat and smile for pictures.

This past weekend I participated in a production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical. Which meant I not only stayed in my Victorian-esque garb for many hours, I had to change clothes twice and I had to actually do things - like dance! - in them.

I have a new appreciation for historical heroines.

Here's a few observations I have from this past weekend:

Me and Scrooge after a showing of A Christmas Carol

1. Those hairdos prior to the invention of hairspray are miraculous.

Seriously. I think I used an entire can this weekend.

2. Stairs. One big nope.

I was so very glad I didn't have to do stairs while out on stage. Our stage was two levels, though, so we had lots of stairs backstage. Let me just say I was glad I was wearing shorts and tights under those costumes because I just bundled that skirt up in my arms for those up and down journeys.

Any heroine who can run up or down stairs in those dresses gets my undying respect.

3. Lady's maids. One big yes.

Even though our costumes were modern adaptations complete with snaps and zippers, I could not dress myself, especially not quickly.

4. Their days were one long workout.

Fezziwig's Ball from A Christmas Carol

Heavy. Very, very heavy. And I was only wearing one crinoline under my costume. One of my costumes had more of a petticoat than a crinoline because it was just a second cotton skirt. Still, it was like walking around with weights strapped to my body. When one considers all the actual layers they would have worn, it's no wonder they managed to be skinny enough for those corsets.

My regency styled gown is much lighter and more comfortable and I've never thought it needed built in air conditioning.

5. Swishing those big skirts is really, really fun.

I do wonder if, when all those Victorian ladies went to balls, they had as much fun making those big skirts swirl as I did. Perhaps it was simply the novelty of wearing what amounted to a fabric bell, but despite the weight and the heat it was fun to make that thing swing.

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