When I first began writing historical fiction as a young girl, I was a blank
slate about petticoats, bum rolls, stays, jumps, busks, stockings and garters,
and whatnot. Fast forward many years and nine published novels later, and I'm
still learning with each novel I write, and have discovered that the best way to
dress my heroine is to dress myself.
I don't want to create heroines who dress in fashions and underpinnings I know
little about. The best way to authenticate a character is to dress like she
would, for a day, an hour, or whatever time and event inspires you. Historical
dressing is surprising and delightful and educational! And I have a confession.
I love stays, the 18th-century equivalent of the
19th-century corset. Stays provide a lovely silhouette and improve my
posture, plus they are excellent back support. The stay naysayers, I think, may
never have been laced up in them. I highly recommend them and gladly dress my
heroines in them!
During the recent holidays, I was
made merry with the acquisition of a striped petticoat from Fort
Boonesborough, and a lovely pair of clocked stockings and straw hat
with paper flowers from Fashions Revisited, a beautiful and most excellent
site. In my small collection I'm happy to have a linen shift, bum roll, stays,
fan, petticoats, pocket hoops, stockings, garters, fichu, and a beautiful
18th-century styled gown of silk taffeta with lace trim that is a
century old as well as a matching hat.
For shoes, I'm smitten with anything by American
Duchess, complete with beautiful buckles. Pick your style and even
paint them red or blue to match your attire if you choose. I'm very fond of my
lovely powdered wig with those lovely spiraling curls popular in that era.
Jewelry from such gifted artists as K. Walters at Sign of the Gray
Horse completes your costume. Colonial Williamsburg also has a wealth of
shops and products to help you dress historically.
In my just released novel, THE LACEMAKER, set in
Colonial Williamsburg, I had an inspiring time dressing the heroine, Lady
Elisabeth, since she is on the cusp of fashion as an earl's daughter as well as
being the confidante of Lady Dunmore, the fashion-savvy wife of Virginia's royal
governor. And I was delighted when my publisher, Revell, designed a cover
focusing on the sleeve and lace trim of a stunning blue gown from a museum
collection, once worn by a woman of that era.
Dressing like a historical heroine is truly a blast from the past, pun intended!
On the eve of her wedding, Lady Elisabeth Lawson's world is shattered, as surely
as the fine glass windows of her colonial Williamsburg home. In a town seething
with Patriots ready for rebellion, her protection comes from an unlikely
source--now if she could only protect her heart.
When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American
Revolution, Lady Elisabeth "Liberty" Lawson is abandoned by her fiancť and
suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the
Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left
with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the
radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?
Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of
love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her
knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant
historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.
Historical | Romance Historical
[Revell, On Sale: January 2, 2018, Paperback /
e-Book, ISBN: 9780800726638 / eISBN: 9781493412501]
Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of several books,
including The Frontiersmanís Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonelís
Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, and The Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and
writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.
What is your favorite piece of historical garb? Tell us below and you could win a copy of THE LACEMAKER!
13 comments posted.
I have not worn historical clothing but I enjoy the fancy many layered dresses I see in historical movies.
(Melanie Rosen 6:58pm January 14)
I love going to Renaissance Fairs. I have a costume that I always wear that I call my wench dress. It's really fun to wear but uncomfortable in hot weather.
(Nancy Marcho 7:19pm January 14)
I'm glad you love dressing up if it influences your writing. I recently retired and am so delighted to wear yoga pants and a tee nearly every day. The idea of stays is bone chilling to me!!
(Lorena Keech 5:04pm January 15)
The dresses are lovely, but I'm fascinated by the fans used by the ladies and the way they are used to create a mood.
(Anna Speed 12:10pm January 16)