Aside World Magazine

Summer 2020 Issue 

Costumes, Anyone?

Article By Mary Beth Walker

For those of you who enjoy the attire of side saddle, whether show appointments or something less conservative, the internet has a variety of sites offering many different types of riding clothes.  This article is an informational compilation of sites I have used but it is by no means an exhaustive one. 

I generally use EBay and Etsy.com, however I am sure there are other search engines and market places now such as Facebook. Let's begin with Ebay. There are many categories you may search.  I typically type in the term "Victorian Riding." Being such a broad category you will find riding hats, riding costumes, equestrian boots, steampunk style jackets: in short anything and everything. Occasionally you will find true, vintage riding habits or pieces such as a bodice. You can also find handmade items or offers for custom work. Commercial sites also use Ebay to exhibit their products. One I routinely check is Victorianchoice.com.  They carry many types of victorian, gothic, Edwardian, steampunk, southern belle, civil war, bustle and even Renaissance faire gowns. The sizes range from small to 3x and they are normally true to their size chart. Delivery is commonly no later than a week so if you need something in a hurry, their delivery service is reliable.  They did go through a period several years ago when their material quality declined. I even had a brocade gown come apart at the seams from trying it on. I am happy to report, however, that they seem to have remedied this and two gowns I purchased this year were very well constructed. Their prices are reasonable but usually fixed.  Once in a while they will have an auction for a particular gown and I have been lucky in the past where I was the highest bidder and ended up paying fifty or sixty dollars less than retail. Their main drawback is that their inventory doesn't change much and neither does their gown style. 

Another commercial site is Recollections.biz.  They have been in business for years and all their items are made in the USA.  They offer victorian, Edwardian, regency and civil war gowns but nothing terribly medieval. They do have a small section of riding habits in different shades and styles of velvet, corduroy and twill fabric. I have also purchased ball gowns from them and they are true to size and well made. A number of years ago I stopped using them because they consistently exceeded their promised delivery time of six to eight weeks. You could not depend on timely delivery even if you requested a specific date. I complained to them but their customer service department at that time did not seem incredibly impressed. So they drifted to the bottom of my list. In June of this year I saw they offered a lovely dupioni dress in a light green hue.  I decided to give them another try but typed in the order form that I expected them to keep to their advertised delivery time. I received the dress in three weeks. 

If you are looking for renaissance, crusades or even greek and roman costumes, Museumreplicas.com is worth a try. They are a bit heavy on reproduction weapons and lighter on costumes but their prices are good. 

HistoricalEmporium.com has both mens and women's costumes,  more along the lines of victorian/Edwardian designs and their half price sales are great. I have found a number of jackets and frock coats in conservative shades of black, burgundy and gray that are wonderfully styled for riding. 

If you are in the market for a lovely riding hat, fancy or plain, Ms.Purdy'sTreasures has a unique selection. Her full size (as opposed to mini) top hats are extremely well made and smart looking. She is also very friendly and eager to help. 

Etsy.com lists items from all over the world but you can narrow the field by clicking Unites States if you are uninterested in navigating customs especially now during the pandemic. Typing in "sidesaddle" for the search brings up hundreds of related products from jewelry to stock ties to framed side saddle scenes. 

Although I have never ordered from this website, MissLisa1867 is worth a perusal. All her gowns are custom order only and usually begin price wise at $300 on up. She appears to favor civil war gowns as there are a number of them shown. The detail on her gowns can be stunning and I am certain she could create any period riding habit you could desire. 

Lastly, my penchant for showing my Friesian mare in medieval costumes led me to a website that originated in Thailand. Yourdressmaker.com offers theater quality renaissance costumes ranging from $120.00 to $500.00 depending on how elaborate they are. Since shipping was from overseas, the cost was high and the delivery time was several months. Now, however, they have a US location in Princeton, Indiana and their website says they ship mainly from that location. 

Hopefully some of these sites will be helpful and inspiring for those of you who enjoy showing historical costumes or reenactment classes. 

To those of you who are talented enough to create and sew your own costumes, you have my undying admiration!!

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