So in the middle of packing and prepping for a kayaking event that my family caters and helps organize, I’ve had some time to step back and consider life in the next few years, specifically relating to hobbies.

The costumer world seems to be inhabited largely by three general groups of people.

Firstly, we have those who are single ladies or married/cohabitating ladies with no kids. These tend to be those who purely costume or reenact with their parents/siblings/friends.  Costuming is a solo hobby – there is no spouse present or the spouse does not participate. While there can be a strong emphasis on history, some of this seems to tend towards and adult version of dress-up. I’ll call this the Pretty Pretty Princess Phenomenon.

The second group are those who are married, with children, and reenact as a family. I’ll call these the Fantastically Able Reenacting Families (or FARF). They tend to come from a very different slice of society than the PPPPs – tending to be more conservative, evangelical Christians or Mormons – and inhabit certain geographic areas, centering around places where you can reenact.

Thirdly, we have the vintage ladies – henceforth known as Fabulous Vintage Lifestyle Ladies (or FVLL). Perfectly set hair, red lipstick, fully fashioned stockings and a longing for the mid decades of the 20th century dominate here. These ladies project a life dominated by appearance. Some sew a lot, some don’t. Some are into the whole lifestyle, some aren’t.

Frankly, I don’t fit into any if these categories. I’m not judging those who might fit under the Pretty Pretty Princess Phenomenon label. It’s really fun! Nor am I against the FARFs. Doing things together like that is great! I’m just not there right now.

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  1. Interesting! Fairly limiting categories… What about ladies who reenact but aren’t blessed with a husband? Would you call me part of the PPPP? I sure don’t fit with the “slice of society” that most of these tend to come into.

    Katie Jacobs, Jen Thompson, and I had a discussion on LJ a few months ago, with more focus on the motives/authenticity goals, and why there’s a bit of tension between the “costumer” types and the “reenactor” types. We kind of reached a consensus that what separates the categories is the audience for which they’re wearing them. One category (very loosely equivalent to the PPPP) do it for themselves, and possibly for their fellow costumers. That means the level of authenticity is totally up to them, what makes them happy. The second category (even more loosely the FARF) focus on presenting to their audience, both other reenactors and spectators, an authentic view of history.

    The vintage group is very different, I admit. There are all sorts of sub-groups within (like the rockabilly and burlesque ones, the broadly vintage-inspired, and the “whole lifestyle” ones). It comes across a little harsh that their lives are “dominated by appearance”; did you intend that?

    I don’t really fit in a category, partly because I participate in all three groups at varying levels. For Guild events and Costume College, I’m more a hobbyist costumer. I do a LOT of research and really try to figure out the most authentic way to do things, but mostly because of time constraints I choose to compromise in certain areas for the sake of having a costume for the right event, and also to use that time for other garments. My compromises are almost always limited to machine stitching where invisible (and the effect unseen), and thread fiber. But I started in Civil War reenacting, and I hold myself to a really high standard there. I’m also trying to apply that level to Regency, because that’s where my next biggest interest lies. And third, I’ve run the gamut of vintage dressing: Starting with all vintage all the time, I’ve developed my own style that is broadly vintage in silhouette, although it’s almost all modern pieces, with 40s makeup and hair (NOT the overused and abused “victory rolls”). But I don’t really even blog about that, although I took pains to take outfit pictures for several months this spring.

    I think I’ll stop now – this is such an interesting topic! Where/why do you fit (or not fit)?

    • Elisabeth

      So funny thing about this post…..I wrote it without no editing, stream of consciousness and then tried to save it on the way out the door for a kayaking weekend. I didn’t know it published until long after you replied because we had no internet at the event. Then my tablet got left at the event overnight when I came home, and now it’s late late at night. The post never even got finished! Dadgum WordPress app doesn’t have a clearly marked draft function.

      So I think I’m going to amend this post on Monday and clarify thoughts and talk about people who fit in between and the middle categories, and why I don’t feel like I fit into any category either and why I am 99.9% okay with that! I guess everybody longs for a group and I’m currently without one. Ah well.

  2. Maybe, you should not be so quick to put certain groups into categories like this? In finding that you do not fit into a group, maybe others don’t either? You can say you don’t mean to judge others, but usually when you say that it means what you are doing comes close. You seem really sweet, and anyone in the costuming community realizes differences in people, but your names for the categorizes were a little condescending, and your post a bit harsh.

    I am looking forward to a re-written post.
    Thanks,
    Lexi

  3. Pingback: The Strange World of Sewing – Revised and Updated | . : : Vintagely : : .

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