Different events call for different costumes, and some events end up being all about the costumes. Last week, I had two events, back to back, that were all about costumes – but somewhat different ones.
The Mechanic’s office party is held annually at the Washington Golf and Country Club. Located in hilly northern Arlington, the club is a classic, well-decorated club that has a great view of Washington, DC. The party is “cocktail attire,” which makes me quite happy – this year I went full sequins! But this year, I opted to Rent the Runway – that resulted in a fancier dress than I could afford, and means it won’t hang in my closet untouched, as has last year’s dress. (If you are not familiar with Rent the Runway, it’s a company that allows women to rent designer dresses, gowns and accessories for a fraction of the original purchase price. The dress, and usually a backup size, arrive in the mail, and you have to return it a few days later, using the included prepaid return address label.) The dress I rented was a navy blue and black ombre sequin Badgley Mischka dress, $75 to rent, $465 original price. It was exactly what I wanted – easy to wear, low V-neck to show off some skin, swingy, not too short, and although I didn’t use them, had pockets. I requested the dresses in a size 8 and a size 6, and was surprised that the 6 fit me best – surprised but not upset! I added a plain pair of black patent leather pumps and big earrings, and then added my Bikie Girl Bloomers, just because.
The next evening, I accompanied a friend from work to a Downton Abbey event. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting into, or I might have dressed a bit differently. It was a huge event, held at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, and was hosted by PBS and WETA. I don’t know how many people attended, but the auditorium was packed! We were shown the first episode of Season 6, the last season <weep!> of the show, then the special guests arrived – an executive producer, Allen Leech (who plans Tom Branson), Phyllis Logan (who plays Mrs. Hughes), Kevin Doyle (who plays Mr. Molesley), and the Earl of Grantham himself, Hugh Bonneville. The last guest was the best – costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins. Woot! I was so excited to listen to her talk about the costumes, as you might well imagine! My luck was only just beginning, however, because afterwards, we were able to take part in the cast meet-and-greet! Although I didn’t need to get a poster and have it signed, I did anyway, getting photos taken with Phyllis Logan and Kevin Doyle.
But MOST EXCITING was talking to the costume designer!!! She was so lovely, and answered all kinds of questions about where she finds the vintage clothing and fabrics, how large of a staff she has (small, only 4 of them, with millinery and jewelry elsewhere), and so on. Having grown up on Masterpiece Theater, and becoming a costume designer in part because of all the British historical costume shows I watched growing up, this was an amazing opportunity for me! I’m still totally jazzed about this! It made me wish I could drop everything and return to my costuming days.
The last season of Downton Abbey is set in 1925, so the first episode we saw was already hinting at the flapper styles to come. I’m excited to see the rest of the season, with the detailed historical clothing, hats and jewels. Ah, a costumers fantasy…. If there was some way I could spend all my time immersed in historical clothing, I would do it (assuming I wasn’t working for free, that is).
But back to the real world, where I wear boring office clothing, fantasize about all the things I could make, and try to encourage people to not drive their cars every day. It’s the season for sugar plums dancing in our heads, but for me, those sugar plums look suspiciously like jeweled headbands….