Costume Updates

One of the purposes of Man The Capstan is to chronicle our journey as we get ready to go to the Tall Ships Festival in Halifax in July of 2009. I know this seems like an awfully long time in advance, so why must we work so far ahead you may well ask? Well…we have a plan, a plan to dress in complete period costuming when we attend, and of course such preparations take time.

1790's Reproduction Day Gown

Cotton Chintz Gown

These costumes will include two full dress Royal Navy Officer’s Uniforms and one full dress Royal Marine Officer’s Uniform. It will be the 250th year anniversary of the opening of the Royal Navy dockyard in Halifax as well which coincides with the Tall Ships, so these uniforms should be quite appropriate for this.

There will also be two Ladies gowns with accessories and lastly a costume for an infant. The time frame we are aiming for will include a period from approximately 1790 to about 1815. Neither Shara nor myself really wanted a regency period style gown, we went instead to a time just a few years before the first regency style gowns appeared in about 1796. I’m not sure at what time these diaphanous gowns came to be worn in the colonies, as style from Europe didn’t always make it across the sea for several years after their original emergence on the continent. Even today it can still sometimes take a number of years for fashion trends in Europe to become popular in North America, so there is no reason to believe that it was very much different back then.

At the moment there are three costumes in production. The first is the  Royal Navy Officer, Post Captain’s Dress Uniform, the second, the Cotton Chintz Ladies Day Gown, called “The Passage to India”, and the third a Royal Marine Officer, Major’s Dress Uniform.  These are in various stages of completion, as we are slowly acquiring the accoutrements with which to finish them. It is a time consuming, (since I am the only seamstress on site) and often expensive project, which sometimes proceeds at a snail’s pace.

R.N Post Captain

R.N Post Captain

From the very beginning we decided that authenticity was important to us, as was the quality, so therefore we have literally searched the world over for the materials and accessories required. Thanks to the Internet we have been able to order items from all over North  America, England, China and even Pakistan, from the West literally to the East. I think our mail delivery guy is really starting to wonder what we’re up to in this house at the end of the long, long, laneway!

Still to be started is another Royal Navy Officer, Post Captain’s Uniform with slight variances from the first, another Ladies Day Gown which shall be called “An English Rose”, and also period wear for an infant as we are soon expecting an addition to the family.

We have made reservations at a very old Inn near the waterfront, (see our links) a place where the Royal Navy officers, who were posted at the garrison, often danced the night away with the finest Ladies of Halifax. The old house was built in 1860 and was reputed to be one of the finest homes in Halifax at the time.

Royal Marine, Officer

Royal Marine, Officer

Today, (as for at least the past 125 years) it operates as a fine Inn. We have recently found that the wife of the original owner was a second or third cousin to one of my husband’s own ancestors, so that’s keeping it all in the family I would say, and makes the whole thing even more fun! The ambiance and setting of this place will be just perfect for our costumes! We are looking forward to staying there and perhaps rubbing elbows with a few past residents/guests…🙂

I’m just hoping that the weather won’t be too warm!  The breezes that  blow off the Atlantic ocean are generally very cooling though, so I imagine it won’t be too bad on the shore. The uphill hike from the pier on the waterfront to the Inn will be another matter altogether…

Please keep in mind that the photographs on this blog are of costumes and uniforms under construction.  There is still much to be done and they are a work in progress.

We welcome your comments and/or questions.


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