Today, we take a step back in time. In this next three-part series, we will travel through time through the lens of dresses. Today, we start with the civil war era.
Meet Juliette Tebeau Bezold. She’s an Interior Designer, wife and mother. She also designs her own costumes for events such as the Ohio Renaissance Festival and the Old West Festival. Really, though, she makes her own costumes for fun. And she has an entire room in her house dedicated to them.
I initially met her at the Voodoo Carnival in February where her group The Horehounds Burlesque performed. I was introduced by a mutual friend and we got to talking about all the dresses and costumes she makes. I just had to come out and see them for myself.
This dress is a civil war era summer dress. She initially made it for Newport Vintage Dance Week, a week long gathering of people interested in vintage dance. During the day there’d be workshops and in the evening, there’d be dances and balls. There was always a seaside ball with a carousel, so she needed a light-weight, fluffy gown to ride the carousel.
It was quite an ordeal to put on with several layers. As I was helping Juliette with this process, I gave thought to dressing back then vs. dressing today. Most days, it takes me less than five minutes to put my physical clothing on. Then maybe I can add another 20 for fixing my hair, makeup and deciding what jewelry to wear. Back then, it was a process for sure.
First, it began with the under garments: bloomers and a corset. The corset would lace up in the back like shoe laces. Then there was the hoop skirt that would go under the actual dress, which makes it pouffy. Then the actual dress was put on over top and buttoned up. Last was the bonnet and gloves.
Even though this was a typical Spring and Summer dress of this time period, I cannot imagine how hot a dress like this must have been.
The detailing is also what strikes me. Juliette estimates that she spends about 200 hours on making a costume. Its simply amazing.
Costuming is one way in which Juliette connects with women of history.
“All that I can do on a machine, they had to do by hand,” she said. “Really a tailor was a man’s job. Women didn’t work on gowns a lot of times. The famous dress designers of the Victorian Era were men. There were female houses, but it was a man’s world.”
This week we will feature two more dresses as we move through time, ending in the Edwardian Era. I’m very excited and I hope you are too!