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Arts

Edwardian Halloween Costume: The Dandy

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Indulge in your inner Oscar Wilde or Max Beerbohm in a bespoke suite (okay, maybe not bespoke, but you can fake it), shiny spats and shoes, an Ascot tie, and a single tie pin placed just so.

The key word is slim fit for the suit. In the Edwardian era, the English cut was narrower in the chest, and the French cut even tighter in tailoring. However, the trend for men’s suits tend to be sold in the looser fit favored by American men, so I’m going to give as close examples as I can find.

Such as this tuxedo by Tommy Hilfiger:

Tommy Hilfiger Suit

Or this three-piece suit by DKNY:

DKNY Suit

Next, try on a wing collar shirt, found at Man of Fashion for about $40:

Wing Collar shirt

Add a dash of elegance with mother of pearl cuff links from Banana Republic for $39:

Cuff links

Try on an Ascot tie for $39 from Fine and Dandy:

Ascot Tie

In his 1900 book, Clothes & the Man, Edward Spencer gives directions on tying a proper Ascot tie:

Begin with an Ascot tie. Put the tie round your neck, and let the ends hang level. Tie in a single knot by bringing the left-hand over the right. Pull the end slightly, so that the left-hand one covers the right. (Don’t drag it away from the stud ; if you “find it slipping, tie the knot a little tighter.) Take hold of the left-hand end—which is on the top—and bring it upwards and inwards to the left until it is at right angles to the right. In that position the “wrong” side of the tie (presuming that you are using a tie with a “wrong” side) will be shown ; then fold the right-hand end underneath, showing the “wrong” side in front. Pull the right-hand end through the loop which has been formed by the left-hand end. Pull the right-hand end quite through until it is at right angles to the knot, and in a line with the left hand. The knot is then made, and all you have to do is to let the two ends fall into the proper position, and then secure them with a pin.

You can find a tie pin at Fine and Dandy as well, for $15:

Tie Pin

Top off the look with a pocket square tucked into the breast pocket and a boutonniere placed in the top button loop:

Pocket Square

To go that extra dandy mile, might I suggest sock garters, gloves (Hugh, Earl of Lonsdale favored canary yellow gloves), and spats to cover your dress shoes? Or perhaps an top hat and cape, if you want to appear more dashing.

And clean shaven is the rule, rather than the exception, as seen in the quintessential Arrow Collar man, as illustrated by J. C. Leyendecker:

J. C. Leyendecker

Part your hair in the middle, slick it down with a can of brilliantine, check your appearance in the mirror–excuse me, looking glass–make certain your valet dressed you correctly for the time of day, douse your person liberally with sandalwood or vetiver (scents from Geo. F Trumper were favored by Edward VII), and on the swing of a walking stick (neat rapier, or monocle attachment hidden in a secret compartment), stroll like a flâneur down your neighborhood streets this Halloween.

Make Oscar proud.

Oscar Wilde

Edwardian Halloween Costume: a Can-Can Dancer

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The traditional dancer of the can can (le chahut) could be male or female, as seen in this painting by Georges Seurat, but history has preserved, in its sometime myopic glance, the image of a woman performing the strenuous, high-kicking dance in voluminous petticoats, bloomers, stockings, and garters.

can can dancers

Since the can-can dancer is a popular costume, there are many options in quality and price points! The biggest trick to pull off is the petticoat: make sure it’s nice and flouncy.

The Petticoat

petticoat

$50.00 from KMKostume’s Etsy. Here is a fun red petticoat, and one in black.

The Bloomers

bloomers

$36.50 from Vilicious’s Etsy(These aren’t period correct, but the added bustle in the back gives added movement!). Another option (more correct) from the same seller, are $26.00.

bloomers

For the bodice, go with a simple peasant top blouse tucked into the petticoat, similar to one found on Etsy, and anchored by a wide belt.

If you want to go a little risque, I refer to the costumes worn by P!nk, Mya, Lil’ Kim, and Christina Aguilera in the music video for Lady Marmalade.

Lady Marmalade Video Shoot

Good corsets can be pricey, but you are paying for comfort and durability, since many of the cheaper costume corsets can be uncomfortable and lacking in quality. There are many modern corsetiers online, many of whom are on Etsy: Glamtastik, La Belle Fairy, La Corset, Lauren Rossi, and GasLamp Corsets, to name a few. Another option for corsets, stockings, and garters are Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood, as well as your local costume and adult shops.

Tip for the Can-Can Costume:
1. Petticoats. Lots of them, or one big petticoat.
2. Corset, stockings, and garters.
3. Flat slippers, or stripper heels for the bolder
4. Glitz: dog collar necklaces, big hoop earrings, chunky bracelets, chain hairbands, etc.
5. Dramatic make-up and glitter
6. Lace: gloves, stockings, etc.
7. Feathers, headdresses, top hats, and/or big hair
8. Attitude

Edwardian Halloween Costume: A Merry Widow

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Lily Elsie made a splash in The Merry Widow, and went on to dominate musical theater during the Edwardian era. Here are a few resources to recreate her iconic look in the operetta.

lily elsie

The Hat

lilyelsie-hat

$39.00 from Berkeley Hat

Add White Feathers and Black Feathers to complete the trimming!

The Blouse

lilyelsie-shirt

$36.00 from Pickled Vintage or the White Victorian Grand Dame Blouse from Restroscope Fashions.

The Skirt

lilyelsie-skirt

$62.00 from Premiere Designs Historic Clothing or from the Ladies’ Emporium.

The Jacket

lilyelsie-jacket

$102.00 from FanPlusFriend.

The Boots

lilyelsie-boots

$29.80 from Forever21.

The Accessories

$5.80 from Forever21

$8.80 from Forever21

$0.25 from Etsy. Ribbon for choker and ribbon necklace

$4.99 from Amazon

Tips for recreating the Edwardian look, circa 1908-1910:
1. Chokers and filigree-chain necklaces, or multi-strand pearl necklaces
2. Maxi (long) skirts
3. Jackets with lots of buttons and/or embellishments
3. Suede or leather high-top boots
4. High-necked blouses
5. Wide-brimmed hat trimmed with feathers or plumes
6. Gloves