Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'm a Stay at Home Costume Designer

When you first meet someone it seems an established custom to politely ask what they do. This usually means what occupation this person has. It's easy enough for most people, they will answer oh I'm a nurse or  teacher or a whatever... For me it's not so easy. Cause answering that I'm a stay at home costume designer usually get's me weird looks.

You do what?

I really am a stay at home costume designer, cause I stay at home and design costumes right? Well really I'm a stay at home mom who runs a historical costume business on the side. So I guess I'm a stay at home mom and a freelance costume designer.

I have a kid and sew costumes.

But explaining that to people creates confusion. Naturally people have a certain idea about what a stay at home mom does, and what a costume designer does. I either get the oh you stay at home with you kid look, like it's some sort of crime to want to raise my child myself, or I get people who ask me if I've met any celebrities , like the only thing a costume designer could possibly do is to make movie costumes...

 No I don't do movie costumes

This usually leads to me having to explain no I don't work for the movies at which point most people lose interest. It get's worse when I explain that I mostly make costumes for reenactors, most non reenactors know little about reenactment and if they know anything at all they think it's kinda freaky. Now I have to admit I've met some pretty freaky reneactors myself, walking barefoot in a field covered with cow dung is more than I would ever do for the sake of authenticity, but I digress.

 Medieval feet, no thanks!

  Also most people assume that if you reenact you do civil war or perhaps SCA ( Society for Creative Anachronism ), both aren't really my thing. Civil war has pretty much no place for women unless You want to reenact a camp follower or dress as a man, and I have no love of war reenactments anyway
 The only thing Civil War I like is corny 80's miniseries Civil War with Patrick Swayze
I did SCA for a while but the fact that their members are allowed to portray any time period from 600 to 1600 makes it for a huge mess of different period costumes that don't go together. Call me an authenticity Nazi, but it drove me nuts. I'm big on feeling immersed in the time period and that just doesn't happen when you are hanging out in a fire hall with a Viking, a medieval Japanese guy and an Elizabethan lady. Sorry SCA peeps I love you, but I can't deal with the total disregard for historical reality. Anyway back to what I was really writing about. I do Regency reenactment and that is the main group of people I sell my wares too. Oh I've made things from other periods on request and of course for myself when I still did SCA. But Regency is my focus. Problem is when I say I do regency reenactment and have a business catering to regency reenactors I get that blank stare again.... well not from everyone but most people have no idea what regency means ,except  for that posh hotel chain...

 Fancy Hotel...... NO
So I go into these long explanations about Jane Austen and well you know that dude Napoleon he was from that time,  but the French call it empire not regency. Yeah more blank stares....

 French Emperor... YES

But alas, even though people seem confused about my occupation I wouldn't have it any other way. I love being a stay at home costume designer, it beats any other job I have ever worked at! I may not be famous and know celebs, but I do what I love, I'm  my own boss, I make my own schedule, and best of all I get to play with gorgeous materials and dress up like a pretty pretty princess for my job.

No not that kind of Princess...

Now how's that for job satisfaction!

.....That kind of Princess!!!!


  1. You could always call yourself a freelance historical couturier.

  2. How did you make your way into this career? Did you go to school, work as an apprentice etc...?

  3. I went to college for fashion design. Where I learned to sew and make patterns and then. I did an internship at a theater costume shop. But that's all the formal training I have really. The rest was just taking my clothing construction skills and love for history and starting to sew historical clothes. First for myself, then for other people, then for other people that paid me. It just kind of organically grew.