Friday, November 17, 2017

Costuming Pride and Prejudice - The Gentlemen

Last week my younger siblings' home school group preformed Pride and Prejudice. I have it on good authority that this young man, my little brother, played his part incredibly well.

His roll you ask? Mr. Collins. He proposed to Elizabeth Bennet, got turned down, and married her best friend instead. All while talking insistently about his patron, Lady Catherine De Bourgh.

 Yes, I am very proud of my little brother's acting ability. And I'm quite proud of my mom for the costumes she made for him and some of the other young men in the play.

Love these two goof balls!
Now, the ladies' costumes were relatively simple - find an easy dress pattern, sew it up, and add some accessories. The gentlemen's costumes were a bit more involved. Tailcoats, waistcoats, trousers, shirts, and cravats were needed for each and every gentleman. So, as neither my mom nor any of the other moms involved in the play had the time to sew regency suits for half the cast, they improvised. Refashioning to the rescue! 

Modern suit coats were obtained from thrift stores.

The lower front of each suit coat was cut away, so that the front of the coat ended at the natural waist rather than the hips. 

The fabric that was cut off the front of the suit coat was then sewn onto the back to make tails. (Now, due to pocket placement and such, some of the suit coats needed addition fabric from other sources added in order to make the tails) 

And there you have it - a tail coat! 

My mom made 3 of these tail coats herself, and led workshops during play rehearsals to help other moms make their sons' tail coats.

 But of course, the costuming didn't end with the tailcoats - oh no, other pieces were needed. Thankfully most of these pieces could be purchased. Modern trousers worked just fine, as by the regency era men were wearing long trousers rather than knee breeches. (Now regency trousers had fall-fronts, rather than zipper flies, but for the play I'd hope no one was paying that much attention to the guys' pants!) Modern dress shirts also worked for the costumes. The collars were flipped up and tied with a cravat. The cravats couldn't be easily bought, but they were quite simple to make - just a long strip of fabric hemmed on all sides.  

Then came the waist coats - the second most involved part of the gentlemen's costumes. Modern vests just don't have quite the right shape, so a little more refashioning was required.

A waistcoat in the middle of refashioning - and a brother who appears to be done with trying things on.

Primarily, the bottoms of the waist coats needed to be straitened out - the hem of a regency waist coat was strait across - not pointed! Some waistcoats required a little extra work as well.

This red one for example needed a back! So, my mom combined it with this black dress shirt to turn it into a real vest.

Didn't she do a great job?
Tailcoats, waistcoats, shirts, trousers, and cravats: after over 2 months of sewing it all came together so that my brother and his friends all looked like perfect regency gentlemen the night of the play!

From all reports the play came off beautifully! Of course, I was disappointed to miss it - but my best friend recorded opening night for me! So next week when I get home I plan on watching it! I can't wait to "see" this play I've heard so much about over the last few months!

The costume coordinator, the set builder, Mrs. Phillips, and Mr. Collins (already out of costumes)

But mostly, I'm looking forward to seeing these people again! I've missed my family this year! Just 5 more days till we're re-united!

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