In chapter six of Sidewalks of New York, the Ackermans celebrate New Year’s Eve by throwing a Beaux-Arts Ball which is a fancy name for a costume ball.
In the chapter’s opening, Lucy and Natalie prepare for the ball by getting into their costumes.
Most women in the 1890s wore simple undergarments, or linen as it was called because of the fabric it was often made from, but the lingerie (french for linen because calling something by it’s french name makes it fancier) worn by wealthy women like Lucy and Natalie could be quite pretty, decorated with lace and ribbons.
Lucy’s chemise was modeled on this one. Natalie wears one like this one worn by Alexis Bedel as Winnie Foster in Tuck Everlasting.
Natalie’s corset was copied from this one from the period.
Lucy’s corset and hairstyle was taken from this period illustration.
Their bloomers were taken from actual pairs from the period.
Natalie’s petticoat comes from the period.
I do not know about Lucy’s petticoat, I think it might be a reproduction.
Over their corsets would go a camisole or corset cover. Lucy wears a beautiful one decorated with crocheted lace which dates from 1900.
Natalie wears one which was inspired by the teddy-chemise outfit worn by Wendla, the heroine of the musical Spring Awakening, in the opening scene.
Spring Awakening takes place in the late 1800s but the costumes aren’t usually too bogged down by historical accuracy. They tend to look like things purchased from Urban Outfitters. But this garment looks victorian enough and would be authentic if it was a chemise or camisole instead of a teddy which wasn’t worn till the 1920s. Also Wendla should be wearing a corset if only because it’s, quite wrongly, used to symbolize the subjugation of of our foremothers. But that’s a rant for another time.
Lucy and Natalie dress as characters from the Commedia dell’Arte. This costumes were picked out by Mrs. Ackerman to make the gentlemen she wishes to set them out with.
Lucy goes as Columbina, the mistress of Harlequin, who her suitor, Lord Allan, is dressing as. Here is a picture of Harlequin and Columbina. Lucy’s hat was taken from this picture.
Natalie goes as Pierrette, the female version of Pierrot, who her crush, Jeremy Weston, is going as. Here is a picture of Pierrot and Pierrette. Pierrot can be seen in the last picture. In a usual Commedia dell’Arte set up, Pierrot haplessly pursues Columbina who jilts him for Harlequin. Pierrot is a lot like Natalie, sensitive and naive.
Lucy’s costume comes from this page from the Tom Tierney paper doll book Gibson Girl. I changed the pattern on the skirt to the diamond pattern associated with Harlequin and Columbina. She wears the hat from the earlier picture of the lovers.
Along with this, Lucy wears a silver Columbina mask.
Natalie’s costume was taken from another Tom Tierney paper doll book Newport Fashions of the Gilden Age. The court clown costume was taken from one worn by a society woman named Fredericka Belmont Howland. It took the basic shape of the dress and the clown hat.
Her hairstyle is something like this.
Her face is painted white and her eyes are lined in black with a little painted on tear.
Mrs. Ackerman’s new year’s resolution is to get Lucy married to the handsome English nobleman, Lord Allan and to bring Natalie closer together with her childhood friend, Jeremy Weston.
Mrs. Ackerman’s costume also comes from Newport Fashions of the Gilded Age, a fancy dress costume worn by Mrs. August Belmont. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be but it is made up of a coat dress, tiara, and a stick-wand thing.
Melanie Barrow comes wearing an 18th century inspired costume which is described as “an eroticized version” of an outfit worn by her ancestor Ariel Barrow in a portrait that hangs in her family home, Arcadia House.
In reality, I took it from Gibson Girl. Remember it from earlier.
Lady St. Oswald comes as a Watteau shepherdess.
Which was copied from Newport Fashions of the Gilded Age. The lady who wore it was named Mrs. Hamilton McKown Twombly, is that a name or what.
Stay Tuned for More 😃