Selling ‘off the peg’ re-enactment wear is hard work. The thing is that good costume is tailor made. And that makes it costly because a lot of effort has gone into it. It won’t have been thrown together out of cheap polyester satin in some factory somewhere. Hours will have been painstakingly spent hand sewing in steel boning and getting things ‘just right’.
And because (in my instance) it involves authentic corsetry as its foundation, no piece is ever going to be a great fit on anyone other than the person it was made for.
But there are ways to help things fit a new shape. In trying to be authentic I do what our forebears did and leave the seams visible on the inside. It also make it easier to let out and take in dresses for new owners, also something they were well known for doing. If nothing else they were great at recycling clothing because the fashion season changed so fast and so many dresses had little wear. So I suppose nothing much has changed.
I made all my pieces for me but I consider myself a fairly average sized UK12 at a reasonably average 5ft 4in so I didn’t think it would be difficult to sell the dresses I had in stock. But if you’re going to do re-enactment and you’re serious about it, you have to do it right and wearing a dress without the right foundation garments is just going to kill it. So if you’re not going to wear a corset your waist isn’t going to be curvy enough and your bust line won’t be flat or high enough.
I’ve lost count of the number of questions I have received about dresses I have in my Etsy store. Measurements always let them down and in most cases because the wearers aren’t using the right corsetry or haven’t considered skilled alterations.
If you’re serious about getting it right, a little effort goes a long way and you will have an outfit that will last you for years.