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What Would You Wear to the Ball?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So I’m writing Ransome’s Crossing and have another ballroom scene—the ball Lady Dalrymple is throwing for Charlotte’s debut—and realized I had no desire nor need to go to my favorite costume site and find just the right gown for Charlotte to wear. Why? Well, take a look:

Unless I really want to get into the intricacies of the embroidery work, there really isn’t much to describe when it comes to what Charlotte would be wearing: a white gauzy gown. [At the ball in Ransome’s Honor, I could get away with Julia wearing dark blue and gold, as she’s much older, and it wasn’t her debut ball.]

So even though it’s a curse that the ball gowns of the Regency era are so boring, at least for a young woman of Charlotte’s age, it’s also a blessing—one less area in which I’m apt to fall into over-description.

Now if I were writing something set in the Victorian era (i.e., if I get to write the sequel trilogy to Ransome, which would take place from 1848–1851), there’s so much more to choose from (all depending on the year, of course—these range from the early 1850s to the 1880s):

Now, here’s my challenge for you. Imagine you’ve been invited to a “Celebration of Historical Costumes” Ball. Post a link to an image of what you would choose to wear—from any era of history. Here are a few links that might be helpful:

Nineteenth Century Fashions
Vintage Textile
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The History of Costume
The Costume Gallery

If I had the figure for it, here’s what I’d wear:

Ceremonial gown of Dowager Tsarina Maria Fyodorovna, c. 1820-1830

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Thursday, August 6, 2009 6:43 am

    Haven’t gotten to look around all the websites yet, but I LOVE this dress from around 1919:


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:33 pm

      I can SO see you in that dress!


      • Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:40 pm

        Okay, I went back and looked at my links again…this is definitely my favorite of the 3 I posted…the salmon colored gown would be #2, and the va-va-voom black dress (*grin*) would be #3. You’re right though…this one is definitely the one that really screams “me.” 🙂


  2. Thursday, August 6, 2009 7:55 am

    Ooh, what a fun game!

    Here’s what I’d wear, in celebration of the roaring 20s, and all that Jazz:

    And check out these shoes!

    Penny Dawn


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:34 pm

      That dress would be gorgeous on you—especially now you’re blonde again—and I LOVE those shoes!


  3. adrienne permalink
    Thursday, August 6, 2009 8:30 am

    This was fun. I’ve always wanted to be able to wear one of those huge ball gowns. I’ve looked and looked. The Nineteenth Century Fashions was my favorite website. I think I’d just go with the one you have that is farthest one to the right and on top in that group of six photos you have. Might as well go all out. Plus, that’s how I could do my hair too.


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:36 pm

      I debated back and forth between the Maria Fyodorovna gown and something with a huge hoop skirt. But I just love all the gold detailing on that periwinkle silk, so that’s what swung me to that dress. Though there were several purple dresses on the Nineteenth Century Fashions website that I love, but most of those were day dresses.


  4. Thursday, August 6, 2009 9:26 am

    This is right down my alley! Loved the first pic…

    Let’s see. I’ll choose from my favorite time period, the nineteen-teens. Now, I would probably go in something from Titanic, 😉 but an actual dress…I love this one.

    Although I so adore ALL the time periods’ outfits (I’m on a 1790’s spree right now) that it would be nearly impossible to choose just one time period! I love the orange and cream stripe dress, top middle of the pics you showed…looks like a variation of Christine’s pink ball gown in Phantom of the Opera, which is one of my favorite costumes ever.

    Loved this post!!!!!!


  5. Thursday, August 6, 2009 9:41 am

    This is not working right this morning. 😉 Ooookay. Here’s my second-fave 1910’s gown. It looks a great deal like, as you can see, the gown from Somewhere in Time (which is my favorite movie, so it’s an added bonus.) I just love that time period!


  6. Sylvia permalink
    Thursday, August 6, 2009 9:53 am

    There’s a gown I really like from Emma 1972, but I don’t have a picture of it and it’s probably not classified as a ball gown. It’s kind of a purple/gray gown that’s near the end of episode five. I would raise the neckline, though.

    By the way, Ransome’s Honor is up for a giveaway at the following website.


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:47 pm

      I couldn’t get a better screen shot of it. Is this the gown you’re talking about?


      • Sylvia permalink
        Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:58 pm

        Uhm…no!! That picture is Mrs. Goddard in a day or morning dress. This was Emma in an evening gown.


        • Thursday, August 6, 2009 1:10 pm

          It must not be in Episode 5 then, because that’s the Box Hill Picnic episode. And at the beginning of the episode, Emma’s in an ivory ball gown.


      • Thursday, August 6, 2009 1:21 pm

        Here’s Emma in a lavender dress from the first episode:


  7. Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:28 am

    Found another one…this is a gown from 1947:


  8. Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:33 am

    Okay, this is it, I promise…

    Evening gown from 1938:

    Thanks for sending us on this marvelous treasure hunt. Now I just need a 3 day ball so I can wear all these dresses, LOL!!!!


  9. Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:25 pm

    Ruth that light salmon colored gown is gorgeous!

    Not all are evening wear but here are some of my choices!
    18th century:

    Early 19th:
    I liked these gowns because they were cotton and there’s not a whole lot of material! I’m all for being comfortable and beautiful at the same time!

    Mid-Late 19th:
    This is sooo pretty I love the lace and the ice blue accents!

    I can’t begin to imagine how long it took to sew on all those sequins…but I love it!

    Gorgeous blue!

    20th century:

    Okay I’m done! This was soooo much fun! You didn’t expect me to pick just one did you?! I LOVE vintage fashion! If I could get away with wearing clothes like this everyday I probably would…sans corset 🙂


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:38 pm

      That sequined gown is gorgeous! And I love that blue one from around 1915 or so…absolutly exquisite!


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 1:09 pm

      The first time I clicked through to your links, I found them okay. When I went to look at them again, they didn’t come up, so I replaced your links with links to the dresses I saw when I first clicked through. Hope they’re all the correct ones!


      • Thursday, August 6, 2009 1:20 pm

        Yep you got ’em right! Thanks those links were REALLY long anyways!


  10. Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:33 pm

    Carla Gade (signed in as prov33) –

    I simply adore this 1878 gown!

    I attended at Jane Austen Gala a few years ago with my husband. Would you care to see how we dressed?

    This post was so delightful! Everyone had such wonderful gowns. We’ll have to do it again sometime, Dear!


  11. Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:35 pm

    Kaye, the dress you chose is stunning. I think you would be lovely in it.


  12. Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:41 pm

    Thanks again for this post! I loved it so much I posted a link on my blog along with my dress choices!


  13. Thursday, August 6, 2009 2:17 pm

    Whoever posted the link to Met Museum is in big trouble! Here are some other great gowns I found: (because everyone needs a black dress) (I know, not a ball/evening gown—but I adore it!)


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 3:17 pm

      Ha, that was me, I think…me in trouble, there’s a shocker. 😉 Love the other links you posted, there are some gorgeous gowns in that mix!!


    • Thursday, August 6, 2009 4:38 pm

      Hahaha I was going to post most of those but I figured my dress list was already to long!


  14. Friday, August 7, 2009 5:32 pm

    I adore that ivory colored Worth evening gown that’s the last one on the right in the top row. Just lovely!

    Of course, I could always wear the 1864 ball gown that I made two and a half years ago…


  15. Tuesday, August 11, 2009 11:05 am

    One of my hobbies is costuming…I generally prefer movie costumes, though I’ve done some historicals. It’s fun when they overlap in historically accurate movie costumes! For a historical ball, I think I would make one of Danielle’s dresses from Ever After. I haven’t done a costume from that movie yet, though I’ve always wanted to. I am leaning toward this one:


  16. Rose09 permalink
    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 1:54 am

    Thanks for the link to that costume website! What a find!


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