Who is your Edwardian Style Icon?
Our favorite time of year is upon us again, The World Famous Edwardian Ball Weekend! Some of us have been conceptualizing, constructing and finalizing our Edwardian Ball looks since the Monday after last years soiree, but others find the process a little more creatively challenging. With that said, there is no reason to surrender to fear or the Spirit Halloween Store. Crafting your perfect ensemble can be easy with a few of my pearls of wisdom.
The first step is to daydream. Think about the Edwardian era, what type of character would you want to be? Would you be aristocratic or perhaps a member of the working class? Are you an explorer, a party girl, prim and proper…really the possibilities are endless. One of my favorite characters to embody is the Starlet Ingenue. She’s glamorous, young and decadent. Most importantly, she knows how to let loose at a party.
This look is ideal if you have an aversion to corsets and you love to dance the night away! I have created a few versions of this look, and I actually own the dress shown above and I adore it. You can find this dress and various other drool-worthy styles here. Once you nail down the dress it’s time for shoes. This is KEY, you will want to dance wildly and hop around like a Tigress, don’t play yourself and wear uncomfortable shoes. I tend to opt for a low chunky-heeled Mary Jane or T-Strap Pump for maximum stability and longevity. You could draw on a vampy little bee-stung lip and stop there, but if you want to take it to the next level, the devil is in the details. Tiara’s, feathered headbands and jeweled hair accessories are perfect accoutrements for the Ingenue look.
The extra special extras: Figuring out a hair style that is both flattering, comfortable and historically accurate can be really challenging. Heads up (literally), wigs can be awkward, hot and don’t right painful, so don’t wear one unless you are practiced in the subject. I found this tutorial to be really helpful and I replicated the style on myself a few different occasions. As the night wears on and the hairstyle gets a little messy, it becomes even more beautiful.
If the darker sensibilities have always appealed to you, the Edwardian Goth may be your perfect alter ego. Through the years I have seen many awe-inspiring incarnations of this look and dark beauty has always spoken to me as an artist. In my..ahem…younger years, when I spent every free moment dreaming up and styling photoshoot ideas with local photographers, I would often draw inspiration from this mysterious archetype. Keys to a successfully styled dark and possibly creepy Edwardian? A veil, a parasol, a jaunty black hat or preferably all three. If you keep and eye out at local thrift and vintage shops you can sometimes find the next key item, a big puffy skirt that you can DIY bustle. Two piece prom dresses are a huge trend now and I have found amazing ball skirts that can be manipulated to look very close to the skirt shown above. Grab a black lacy top from Forever 21 and this look is complete.
The extra special extras: Not all black lipsticks are created equal. Some are more gray than black and can make your teeth look less than pearly white. My tried, tested and true favorite black lipsticks are Styletto by Lime Crime Makeup (creamy but long-wearing), Wet N’ Wild Pagan Angel (inexpensive but very good!) and Jeffree Star’s Weirdo Liquid Lipstick (must-have for any dark beauty).
The Edwardian World Traveler has to be one of my all time favorite characters to style. You can add elements of adventure, Jules Verne-style, or opt for a nod to the exotic. You will see a lot of Steampunk looks at The Edwardian Ball, thats great, but how will you set yourself apart? Try to be imaginative and make the style your own. Wardrobe, props and makeup can get expensive so if you can make or alter items you already own, that is highly encouraged. The Edwardian Ball party-goers love innovation and artful ensembles, they may even ask to take a photo with you. Personally, I’m very drawn to the color palette I have depicted in my collage, a sort of Edwardian Indiana Jones if you will. The dustier and more lived-in your outfit, the better.
The extra special extras: Any garment can look antique with a little tea staining. If you have a stark white cotton or possibly stained corset and want to incorporate it into your look, simply make a giant bucket of black tea and submerge your garment until it is the desired color. Rumple it up a bit, hang dry and done. You have an instantly aged and one of a kind costume. CAUTION: Do not do this to clothing that is delicate or that is of sincere value to you.
Red Alert! If you are even remotely thinking of channeling the Edwardian Cirque, you must head over to the Piedmont Boutique on Haight Street. This jam-packed sequin-filled shop has the finest collection of tights and thigh-hi’s, especially striped and patterned, that I have ever seen. I have purchased a few pairs of tights there and can attest to their quality and comfort plus you get to shop locally! You can go absolutely mad when it comes to styling the Edwardian Cirque. Mix bold patterns, go crazy with color and don’t forget your signature makeup look. Here are my makeup must-haves for creating a clown face that will have you shrouded in makeup mischief all night.
–Kryolan Aqua Cake is comfortable to wear all night and you can customize coverage with more or less added water. I apply with a damp beautyblender sponge and it looks great, and doesn’t make me break out.
-The BEST and longest wearing liquid liner I have ever used is a combo of two products. The longevity of the K-Palette 24 Hour Tattoo Liquid Eyeliner Pen is mind-blowing and the velvet matte finish of the NYX Matte Liquid Eyeliner is incomparable.
– No circus look is complete without a bold red lip. I have over 50 different red lipsticks, yes they’re all slightly different, but for this look I could narrow it down to a few suggestions. 1. Jeffree Star “Redrum” liquid lipstick will outlast eating, drinking and making out, do with that info what you will. 2. Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in Shade 01(a classic deep red) is amazing product that you can find at your local drugstore. 3. Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in “69” is a bright red that lasts all night long, plus you can tell people the sexy name of your lipstick.
So maybe you’re not the type to wear glitter, garters and glam. I respect that. Crafting a simpler Edwardian Ball look can be as simple as channeling the illustrations of Edward Gorey himself. The brand Free People offers lot’s of long lacy and layerable dresses that can be amazing on there own or paired with other pieces. Word to the wise though, their clothing runs large so I recommend going down at least one size. If you are a bargain hunter like me you’ll be pleased to know that I find a lot of Free People dresses, deeply discounted, at my local Nordstrom Rack. Faux fur is everywhere right now, so finding a gorey-esque fur coat or stole should be a piece of cake, I’d try Target first.
Finally, if you do not have a perfect matte black eyeshadow in your makeup collection may I make a suggestion? I have tried every black eyeshadow out there and the absolute best is Natasha Denona Blackest Black Shadow Matte. Cross my heart, it’s amazing. Load up an eyeshadow blending brush, I love the Morphe M441, with your favorite dark shadow and create rounded shadowy eye sockets and feel free to create shadowy under-eyes too. Remember, this is Gorey, so the grimmer the better.
This is the look I went for last Edwardian Ball and I think it’s a blend of several different styles. I handmade the body chain to go specifically with this vintage floor length off-the-shoulder velvet mermaid gown and my husband gifted me the feathered fascinator headpiece. I believe it was from Goorin Bros. Hat Shop, an excellent local haberdashery. We invited friends and family to come along and wonder at the unique expeirence and eye candy the Ball has to offer. This year, just as the 6 other years I have attended, is sure to be a spectacle. Hope to see you there.
If you’ve fallen in love with any of the pieces I have shown in this article you can find them ( and much more inspiration) on my Edwardian Ball Style Guide Pinterest Board.