So, the most exciting news first!
During a casual conversation with a guy I work with named James, about his love of all things Nelson related, I commented on how cool I thought it was that he dressed up as an Admiral for work on Waterloo Day. I think you all know that I am a devout fan of Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series of books, and I've spent a great deal of my life immersed in the other great writers of historical naval fiction. James is rather more into the actual history, than the fiction, and possesses a sword.
Anyway, this led to a small knot of us dreaming up an event that gave us all an excuse to dress in regency costume for a day. It just so happens that James owns a variety of complete, accurate, reproduction naval uniforms from the regency period. I think they include Midshipman, Lieutenant, and Captain, as well as the aforementioned Admiral. The plan was that he would lend these out to similarly sized colleagues who were willing, and that would give him a good excuse to have a new one made. Alas, his wardrobe naturally does not contain a dress, but the Bath-based tailor who produces these costumes for James agreed to hire out dresses for me and for another gal, Fran, for the day. This was a huge favour, as neither of us can afford this, and needless to say, we were both on cloud nine. These dresses were to be authentic reproductions, in white muslin, and made to measure. But why the past tense? Because, in a moment in my life when my feet actually left cloud nine, James produced these dresses for us with the casual words "oh, you can keep them, they're yours".....!
I am now the ecstatic owner of an empire-waisted, white muslin, regency dress, bliss! I have wanted to try out regency costume for years, my heart ached that I couldn't join the Jane Austen parade when I first saw it, and who hasn't dreamt of being an extra in a costume drama? And now, unbelievably, my dream dress is hanging in my wardrobe.
The only thing left was to choose a day in history worth such celebration, a nationally important day that we could turn into an 'event', in order to convince the boss to let us do this. No problem, as any naval history buff will know, Trafalgar Day falls on October 21st.
This was all a few weeks ago, and things have snowballed; James has arranged for Julian Stockwin to come and sign his latest book in the Kydd series, 'Invasion' for fans, and Roy Adkins, author of 'Trafalgar' and 'Jack Tar' will be around for signings too. There will be a prize draw to win some authentic 18th Century rope and a real musket ball. We've ordered in masses of books about or set in the period, for instance Dudley Pope, C.S Forrester, and of course, Patrick O'Brian, as well as biographies of Nelson and Emma Hamilton, and a variety of history books. We're going to put sea shanties and naval tunes on the cd player, and there are seven of us in costume.
So, back to the dress, here is a peek....
I thought it might be a little chilly in October, so I've decided to channel Emma Thompson for the day and wear a wrap made from this blue, striped, brushed cotton fabric I found in Country Threads. I think the colour is perfect, the stripes hint at the Navy, and it's warm, incredibly soft, and drapes beautifully. I'll attempt to put my hair up in a suitable style that uses only pins, and since I won't be wearing a bonnet, will add some demure flowers to the back.
I will of course post a full-length photo of the complete ensemble on the day, and I'll take as many photos of James and the others as I can get away with.