18th Century Aftermath

I’m a costumer, not a reenactor. I make interesting historical costumes as accurately as I can – or not accurately at all, depending on why and when and what I want it for. I put the clothes on and wear them for an hour or an afternoon, and then I take them off again and put back on the twentieth century clothes that I wear every day. Playing dress-up in the 18th Century is always fun. The 18th Century aftermath on the other hand…. occasionally isn’t.

Yes, historical linens and wools are often more suited to dealing with actual climates than what we wear in those climates today. But sometimes an environment is just going to trump any fabric choices you throw at it, and sometimes modern solutions are just… they’re just better. And I’ll take that to the wall.

The shore in the Atacama desert where I took these photos was hot:

Tabubilgirl stands on a shore in the Atacama Desert, holding her hat onto her head. she wears a blue striped 1750s english nightgown, purple linen mitts and a straw hat trimmed with a pink ribbon

I mean, it was really really hot. The sort of hot you only get when the driest desert in the world happens to also exist in tropical latitudes where the sun hangs directly overhead in the sky, and you choose go out dressed up in multiple layers of linen and artificial whalebone during the hottest month of it.

Tabubilgirl stands on a shore in the Atacama Desert. she wears a blue striped 1750s english nightgown, purple linen mitts and a straw hat trimmed with a pink ribbon

That sort of hot.

Tabubilgirl stands in a modern parking garage wearing a 1750s linen english nightgown. she looks hot and wilted.

When I got home again, I dropped my 1750s linens where I stood, and sat on the floor to eat a frozen fruit juice popsicle in my shift.

18th century stays and petticoat lie in heap on a tiled floor

Linens might wick sweat, but I like 21st century deep freezer, thanks.

frozen fruit juice popsicle

The weather up at Tahoe in winter this Christmas was brisker, but it wasn’t any less disheveled.

tabubilgirl, wearing a green dress and an 18th century cardinal cloak, smiles coyly around the trunk of a tree.

In anticipation, my underneaths were modern,

Tabubilgirl stands on a flight of stairs. She wears a green 1790s round gown. she is lifting up the skirts to show off modern thermal underwear

But my hair was…. well my hair was a wig. I didn’t have any bobby pins, and I was relying on my gauze chiffonet to keep the wig on my head. Unfortunately, the chiffonet was the remains of the silk I’d used on my 18th Century Brain Hat and it lived up to every bit of the reputation it had earned during that fiasco.There was a stiff wind up there on the mountain and with a little help from the enormous hood of my cardinal cloak, that chiffonet skidded right off my head – and took the wig right along with it!!

A wig wrapped in an 18th Century chiffonet sits on a car seat in the aftermath of being caught in a stiff wind

Coming back down from the mountain – snow is slippery, and heated car seats make all the difference, as does, a few miles further down the road, hot chocolate in a Borders Bookshop and the hot air of a hand dryer in the ladies room being aimed at my very own seat!

Wool melton is toasty, but waterproof woolies and electric hot air are… well, in the aftermath of an afternoon in the 18th Century, I just like them more, when my own seat is turning blue.

Tabubilgirl stares at the camera. She is wearing a green 1790s round gown with a white chemisette and red silk sash.

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