Fancy Dresses Described; or What to Wear at Fancy Balls is an 1887 costume guide, and it is amazing and wonderful. Some of the ideas would be best avoided in this century, but the costumes run the gamut from Five O’Clock Tea to Gold Mines to Backgammon to whole countries, and everything in between. Fascinating. The lists of illustrated costumes does not even come close to all the costume guides:
A sample of one page of descriptions:
The costumes are amazing and beautiful:
Oh, the Magpie! Who needs an excuse to wear that?
I haven’t even come close to perusing the whole book, but this caught my eye, and now I want this outfit:
Masherette. Black satin tail coat and skirt, with white waistcoat; black embroidered stockings; crimson silk handkerchief; opera hat and crutch stick; high Wellington boots; shirt front, high collar; eyeglass in eye; buttonhole.
The book is a tremendous amount of fun, just on reading alone, and it’s a great resource and imagination spark for all the costume makers and wearers out there. Fuck, I really wish I could sew. It’s as well to remember that this book did cater to the rich, just look at the entry for Night. Diamonds scattered in the hair, and much more. Of course, there’s no need for them to be real.