Monday, January 20, 2014

From Frog to Prince: Getting Ready for The Ball on Feb 22nd

From the Lewis Walpole Library

Yoo-hoo gentlemen, it's your turn!  So your 18th century wardrobe is more frog than handsome prince.  You have two left feet and don't know a dance master from a mix-master. We get it.  But that's no excuse to skip the ball.  Think about all those hot summer weekends when your significant other slaved over a hot camp fire while you ran around in the woods playing soldier with your buddies. Doesn't she deserve a night out for some genteel entertainment!

Okay, let's talk clothes.  You only have one 18th century kit, and it's your uniform.  It would appear that the ball organizers will allow "well-kept regimentals".  And should they be anything else?  Whether you are in General Washington's, the Kings, or LeRoi's service, your uniform should be well kept.  So you've let things slip a bit.  Now might be a good time to reattach that errant button, repair seams, and give your coat a good brushing and airing out.  If those breeches or overalls don't fit quite right, get some help fixing them -- you will look one hundred times better.  Baggy breeches are the 18th century equivalent of old man pants.

If you do wear your regimentals, for heaven's sake, leave the accouterments home (except if you are an officer and would like to wear your sword). You'll not be needing that haversack (there will be snacks at the ball), cartridge box and/or bayonet (it's a dance not a battle). And don't forget to clean up those shoes -- brush the dirt off and fix them up with some blackball or polish.

If you are wearing civilian kit, wear your best one.  Coats, by the way, are required. If you want to dress yourself up a bit, consider the following:

Make up a pair of fine linen sleeve and bosom ruffles to attach to your shirt and wear a new neck cloth or stock.
John Hancock by JS Copley
Elkanah Watson by JS Copley

Consider a wig. You can purchase an appropriately styled wig for less than you think. You'll be amazed how well most men look in a good period repro wig.  And don't forget to spray it with some hairspray or better yet, spray-on hair color to get rid of the shine.  Shiny wigs just remind everyone that they are really made of plastic.

One final thing, don't forget to SHAVE!
Lieutenant Gabriel Bray RN shaving, 1775
So buy your ticket for the George Washington's Ball!
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