Dressing for our masquerade ball

If you’re rooting around in your closet and fretting that you have nothing to wear to our ball, have no fear: Inger Brodey and Tobin Freid are here with dresses and accessories you can rent once arrive at JASP. *

We have more than 40 dresses in various sizes (many are handmade so traditional sizes aren’t relevant), as well as gloves, reticules, hats and a limited stock of men’s clothes. For a suggested donation, plus a $10 cleaning fee, you can be dressed to the nines for the ball. Renting a dress can be a great low-cost/low-risk way to immerse yourself in Regency fashion.

And if you haven’t heard, our Regency do is different this year: In honor of “Frankenstein” and “Northanger Abbey,” we’ll be holding a masquerade ball. Yes, you read that right.

Untitled design (6)“The gothic literature that both Jane Austen and Mary Shelley read highlighted the licentious dangers of Italian traditions such as carnival and associated masquerades,” Brodey says.

In England, public masquerades in England were waning in the 1800s, but they still occurred in private, particularly in honor of Twelfth Night.  (“There is a fun letter from Martha Lloyd describing how they dressed Jane up as a ‘Gypsy’ for a similar event,” Brodey says.)

Our masquerade ball means that, in a sense, people will be doubly in disguise: Those who are in costume will be impersonating Regency people playing dress-up in the costumes they might have chosen at the time.  (“We do hope no one will imitate Lady Chudleigh—who made all the tabloids by appearing as ‘Eve’ at a masked ball,” Brodey says.)

For the ball, we’ve acquired 10 to 15 costumes, such as jester, Roman soldier, knight, king and Renaissance lady, that might have appeared at the time. In addition, we’ll have 10 to 15 more costumes that are more ambiguous.

No masked ball is complete without, well, masks. At JASP you’ll have a chance to buy masks, or you can make your own at our mask workshop ($20 fee; spaces are still available!), where participants will work with costume historian and milliner Dannielle Perry to create their our own.

Click here to find more about the history of masquerade balls and tips for men and women on dressing for the ball.

* Costumes and Regency clothing are NOT required for the ball. Some attendees wear Regency-inspired (empire-waist) dresses, summer dresses or light clothing. Just make sure you’re comfortable: It WILL get warm as the hall gets crowded and people get moving on the dance floor.

About Jennifer Abella

Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow her on Twitter: @nextjen.

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