This week’s Off The Beaten Track contributor is Erin Grace, who likes to escape the ‘real world’ of sales and marketing to immerses herself in unfolding tales of dire circumstance, brave heroines, unscrupulous villains and, of course, passionate hot-blooded men. When not writing, Erin indulges in her love of home-style food by teaching her children to cook. Erin lives with her husband and three sons in the beautiful Blue Mountains of Australia. You can find Erin on her blog here.
My love of everything historical hadn’t started with writing romance. For many years, I have been entranced by the world of lace and lace-making, secretly wishing that fashions would change and I would have the opportunity to wear those fabulous clothes of the mid 1800’s and beyond.
But, unless we can convince every fashion designer on Earth to embrace bustles and sprig muslin, it isn’t going to happen. But, I’m not the type to let a little thing like that stop me.
You see, I’m the geek at romance conventions, fantasy expo’s, and historical re-enactment days who runs around all day dressed in anything from an 1850’s crinoline to a 13th century Celtic wench, a medieval maiden, and an 1880’s polonaise--just to name a few!
As an author, I love to create characters and places in my books, but adore indulging my passion for dressing up in the different periods every chance I get.
Not only do I look different, I feel different. Sounds strange perhaps, but it’s true. Just ask anyone at those Sci-fi and comic book conventions. Why do we do it? Why do we spend an inordinate amount of time, patience, and money designing and perfecting costumes?
Simple. It’s very satisfying, especially from a writer’s point of view. Personally, it allows me to experience what it might have been like for one of my heroines.
Ever spent eight hours in a crinoline, complete with a full complement of underskirts, corset, stockings, period-style shoes and all the little accessories? I have. And, as an historical romance author I learned a great many things.
Stairs don’t come easy – going down a staircase is frightening enough, but going up one is downright treacherous. I have little doubt that a common cause of death and serious injury in those days of fashion were attributed to stairs.
Running isn’t an option – unless you added tripping and falling to your list of potential injuries. I believe that ladies walked or sashayed with a modest pace not only to look demure but to literally save their necks. Neither would jumping on horseback, swimming fully clothed, or many other situations be feasible whilst wearing the average daily garb.
Going to the ‘ladies convenience’ is also an adventure in itself. I’ll spare you the details, however, let me just say that modern cubicles simply don’t cut the mustard. Though, in truth, attempting to relieve yourself behind a folding screen, whilst trying to balance over a chamber-pot (with the help of a maid), wouldn’t have been a delight either.
Apart from the interesting ‘first hand’ experience, I love how wearing my crinolines or polonaise (1880’s bustle-style dress) engages people’s interest and sparks conversation, not only in the clothes but in reading, writing, and the historical periods they like. For me, dressing up is just another way of feeding my imagination and inspiring my muse.
If you would like to check out Erin's current book, click here.