The format is fairly standard, a parade of mostly ladies in their finest, perhaps a "dressing for the day" showing all the appropriate layers of underpinnings and maybe a handful of children and gentlemen.
But I just couldn't do it...
I was asked to narrate the fashion show for Historic Charlton Park, and I wanted to change it up - provide information on the fashions of the 1860's certainly but also go a little deeper, tell a little more.
So I decided to explore the idea of fabric being relatively expensive and time being cheap, how clothing would be used for a multitude of functions and how each scrap of fabric would be used for all it was worth.
I started with myself as the first example, in my silk dress with large open sleeves and puffy undersleeves, a square neckline filled with a chemisette and my high style silk spoon bonnet - I'm dressed for an afternoon call or a carriage ride with the addition of a parasol and wrap, but wait...
I also mentioned the vast yardage contained in skirts of the period; how items such as aprons, cloth bonnets and even children's clothing could be fashioned from the fabric salvaged from an outdated or worn dress. I had an adorable little girl model the use of growth tucks and drawstring waist and necklines on children's clothing to ensure such items could be worn as long as possible before being passed down to a younger sibling.
We then moved on to a fashionable ensemble for a young miss, note her fancy, meant-to-be-seen petticoat and elevated skirt. She also sports a porkpie hat and parasol - perhaps she'll be strolling with a beau?
But by dropping her skirts, switching out her hat for a bonnet, she's ready for church services.
Men's clothing is not quite as changeable as the ladies, but one of my favorite "make-do's" I've ever seen, was a vest that had been split up the back, the edges carefully finished, to allow for the gentleman's increased girth - as long as he kept his jacket on, it'd would be his secret.