This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun, most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Friday, January 24, 2020

ACCESSORIZING: Purses & Reticules

I’m currently in the middle, and I do mean middle, of finishing up 3 1890s skirts and blouses, a 1912 dress, and an 1872 dress. Its not pretty but here’s the mess, I mean my progress, as I am marking all the hems on them, my most hated process.
Right now, I’m focusing on what accessories I’m going to need for them. That means hats, purses, & jewelry. Unless I have something in my stash that I know is appropriate to the time periods, I need to educate myself on what they should look like. Or I confirm again what I already think I know. The easiest way is to search for dated fashion prints and photos on Pinterest. If you can already recognize the time periods of the clothing shown, you can at least be sure you’re looking at the right place, because as we all know, things dated there are not always correct. Even museum information is sometimes not correct.
I’ve started with reticules & purses, since my knowledge is superficial so far, although I am getting better. I was tired of just using little pouches. I always assumed “purses”, ones with metal frames that look like a real purse, were more modern, like in early 1900s. I was surprised when I saw some in the Victoria & Albert Museum on display that totally blew me away, dated 1860s.

Whenever I saw any purses of this type in actual photos, I saved them as proof of what I was doing was right. Like this one from mid-1880s. It looks just like a purse I have.

These ladies from the 1890s kept their hands free of them by clipping them to their belts or waists, using those ingenious waist clips. At the time I had seen these, I also found one of the leather purses in a flea market in Florida.

Those led me on to look into those little waist clips that they used to hold them on and a friend in England pointed me to some that were being sold on ebay, which I bought. Some have a loop on the front to hold your purse, others have it and the tongue that goes over your belt, on the back.

Moving forward to 1904, this lady is carrying a purse very similar to the “1880s” one I showed above that I have so I have a cross-time period one that I can use. Its really hard to see even with a magnifying glass. So, unless you’re looking specifically for purses, you might miss one in a photo, especially if its within a group of women.
Finally, for my 1912 dress, I found this fashion print from 1914, and look, she’s carrying a pouchy-type purse with a frame. I have an almost exact one and thought it was earlier, like 1880s.

With all of these, having something similar can work, even if not exactly of that time. And you have a photo showing proof if anyone wants to argue. I don’t think they did much photo-shopping back then, so a photograph to me is proof.