Costume Information

Photos courtesy Irene Urban

For more information about Victorian fancy dress and for costume ideas and illustrations, please see Historical Fancy Dress.

This is a formal evening event in the style of a fancy dress (costume) ball of the 1880s. Fancy dress in this sense is similar to a masquerade ball, though masks were not required or particularly encouraged. Fancy dress or Victorian costume is not required, but we encourage everyone to take advantage of the theme! Costumes can range from those of earlier eras (“A Lady of the Napoleonic Era,” “A Nobleman of the 14th Century”) to the abstract (“Queen of Mirth,” “Winter”), the literary (“Romeo and Juliet”) and the ethnic (“Swiss Peasant Girl,” “Persian Princess”). While “steampunk” is not a period term, ladies and gentlemen of that persuasion might attend as “Airship Pilot of the Next Century” or similar. The more imaginative might dress as a flower, a butterfly, a Japanese lantern, a deck of cards, or the postal service. Any of these might be worn by ladies -- hilariously -- over the corset-and-bustle silhouette of the era.

(Photos from the 2011 ball: top left: a Lady of the Next Century, Britannia with the Lion of England, a Colonial Lady; bottom left: Queen of Night; top right: Ladies and Gentleman of the 18th Century; bottom right: a Noblewoman of the 15th Century, worn over an 1880s corset and bustle!)

Gentlemen of the era were fond of historical and literary costume, especially those that included tights, though the more conservative might simply wear a regular evening wear with a simple boutonniere to symbolize a flower costume.

Suggestions for fast and easy fancy dress costume ideas may be found at Historical Fancy Dress.

Please keep in mind that costumes should be suitable for couple dancing -- generally fit to the body, with no long trains or parts that shed or stick out. A display area will be available for props to be left during dancing. Changing space is available at the hall starting at 6:30 pm.

Simple evening dress of the era (white tie for gentlemen, bustled evening gowns for ladies), modern or historical military uniform, Victorian daywear, or modern formal wear (best available -- business suit or cocktail attire minimum) are also completely acceptable. We encourage people to be creative in their costuming, but Victorian costume is not required.

Please bring indoor-only or freshly-cleaned shoes to avoid damaging the beautiful dance floor surface in Pratt Hall. Gentlemen: hobnailed shoes, boots, and spurs are not permitted in the ballroom. Ladies, spike-heeled shoes are not permitted in the ballroom.

Photos courtesy Kimberly Griffin

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