What is historybounding? If you haven’t heard of the trend taking the historical costuming community by storm, check out this video. Basically it is taking cues from historical fashion – any era that you like – and translating it into a more modern setting. For me, I love Victorian fashion, but a lot of the early – mid Victorian fashion trends don’t translate as easily as the late Victorian/Turn of the Century/Edwardian trends do. So, if I decided to jump on the bandwagon with everybody else, I already had a pretty good idea of where I was headed.
When I first heard about historybounding last year I thought it was a pretty cool idea. Of course, trying to fit time into my 2020 schedule of projects, and transitioning into a new style of dress just didn’t seem possible. It also, I freely admit, sounded like a lot more work.
Until the pros started to outweigh the cons. I found myself getting frustrated with synthetic fabrics during the summer. I hated how they made me sweat, or got all static-y. Or decided to ride up during my walk to work and caused me to continuously fuss with my clothes. I also struggled with regulating my body temperature as it would be hot outside but the office air-conditioning was akin to sub-Antarctic conditions.
Too Much Time To Think
(Feel free to skip past my thought process if you want to see some sewing)
‘Maybe the historybounders are onto something,’ I thought. ‘Victorians didn’t have to deal with this problem, wearing natural fabrics all the time. Perhaps I should try and make some pieces to add to my everyday wardrobe.’
My personal style was also evolving at the same time. I had started leaving some of my dresses on their hangers because I felt they were too short for me now – okay to wear over a pair of tights – but without? No thank you. Midi dresses entered my wardrobe as the summer began to heat up and wearing tights became impossible. I’d never been a fan of midi length skirts and dresses before so had never bought them. But I actually liked wearing them. I felt more grown up and sophisticated.
Then, Covid-19 reared its ugly head and Lockdown was announced here in New Zealand. I had almost two weeks where I was unable to work from home due to a lack of equipment so found that I had extra time on my hands. To work on my historical projects, but also to think and reflect on my wardrobe choices.
I started wearing clothes that had spent months on their hangers to see what I liked, still fitted, and those that were just taking up precious space and I was happy to part with. Not surprisingly, I found out why I had relegated some to a life on a hanger, as well as discovering that not every item fits me anymore. Some were fine for ‘at home’ wear but would never again be worn in public due to pilling or other cosmetic issues.
I also started to consider myself from a consumer point of view. What was the point in purchasing clothes often made from synthetic fabrics, or ones that would last for a relatively short period of time? Yes, I do like getting a new item of clothing to wear, but is it worth it? Is it economical, and what am I contributing towards the environment, how could my attitudes of ‘that’s pretty, “add to cart”‘ be adding to the growing problem?
Yes, buying several yards of fabric to make up a skirt or a whole ensemble is more expensive than buying one that has already been made up by someone else (who has been paid a pittance). But, by making my own clothes and making the most of wearing them surely works out more affordable in the long run? I remember once reading about taking Cost Per Wear into consideration when weighing up clothing purchases. Surely, by cycling three or four skirts for a few weeks or months, they will work out more economically?
Plus, the added advantage of creating modern, 1890s pieces of clothing, it should also make it possible to incorporate pieces of my historical costuming wardrobe into my everyday. This, of course, means that the Cost Per Wear of those pieces is reduced and, in turn, makes my hobby a little more affordable. And, if I pour so much of my time and energy into creating historical pieces that I only get to wear once or twice a year, why not find a reason to wear them more often?
I told you I had a lot of time to think.
And, so it began…
I had enough lawn cotton in my stash to adapt the Truly Victorian Petticoats pattern to create a short petticoat that could be worn under modern length skirts. I was still sitting on the fence a bit while working on this – maybe making everyday clothes was silly, maybe modernising period patterns would look stupid, and what if this was going to go really wrong somehow?
Until I saw the completed petticoat. It was a little shorter than I had planned, but gosh it is so cute! Seeing how it turned out gave me confidence to continue down this road of building a Modern Victorian wardrobe.
But, while fabric shops were shut for Lockdown, I couldn’t make anything more so returned to my historical projects. And, by then I was working from home anyway so had less extra time on my hands. That didn’t stop me purchasing a couple of PDF patterns and thinking about the direction this new focus could go in though.
Halfway through Lockdown, Spotlight deemed fabric as an essential item, and threw a big sale. Well, what was I supposed to do? I had a growing list that I had been adding to since Lockdown began with what I wanted to purchase so I threw those items in my virtual cart and waited – somewhat patiently – for a wonderful courier to deliver them.
New projects began to take shape – another petticoat, and new skirts of different lengths. I could say that I was lazy, and cheated a little, by placing an order for some cotton shirts from Asos to give my new wardrobe a boost, but I think in the realm of historybounding that might be acceptable. Interestingly enough, there does seem to be some Late Victorian/Edwardian influences occurring right now in modern fashion so there are quite a few shopping options to boost one’s wardrobe.
My second petticoat is 2 inches longer than the first and the third, made in black lawn (because I realised that was probably a much more practical colour for everyday wear) is an inch longer again.
The fourth petticoat was made with the full length pieces of the petticoat pattern for Views 1 and 4. I skipped the flounce, and added the ruffle at the bottom. This might very well end up crossing into my historical wardrobe as well as an underpetticoat.
I’ll talk about the skirts that I’m making, and the shirts that I bought (plus any that I make) in a later post. For now, though, I’ll sign off to prevent this post getting any longer than it already is. I’m quite curious to see where this historybounding side-journey (detour?) is going to take me. And I’m quite excited to have the chance to incorporate some of my love for fashion history into my everyday life.
Thinking of dipping your toes into the past too? Here are some links to help!
Historybounding post by Morgan Donner
Modern Edwardian: Tips on How to Blend the Era Into Your Style video by Rachel Maksy
Bringing Historical Fashion into Your Modern Wardrobe podcast by Jennifer Rosbrugh
The #historybounding hashtag on Instagram