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Historical Costumes

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The thing about history is, there's a lot of it! If you want to travel back in space and time to a different place and era, you have a lot of options. Medieval or Renaissance Europe. Ancient Egypt. Prehistory. Ancient Greece or Rome. The American frontier or old south. Victorian England. Pretty much you-name-it! You can become a specific historic figure such as Cleopatra, Benjamin Franklin, or Julius Caesar. Or you can be a generic medieval knight, Greek goddess or Renaissance maiden. 

If you're going to play a specific historic or literary figure such as Queen Elizabeth I, find a picture of the person to see what kind of clothing he or she actually wore. That will make it easier to select a costume that will give you an authentic look. Once you've picked your costume, learn about your character. If your character is a literary figure, read the literature. For a Shakespearean character, for example, perhaps memorize a few lines from the play. For a historic person, find something that person wrote, or a transcription of a speech s/he gave. Many kept diaries or journals, and everyone wrote letters in the days before computers, the internet and email.

If you're playing a generic character, learn a bit about the era you want to portray. Find pictures of historic figures of the day to get a sense of the authentic style. Historical novels are a good way to learn about the lives of ordinary people and how they spoke and behaved. For example, a medieval tavern keeper and his family would dress and behave differently than a knight and his family.

Before the 20th century, women's roles in most societies were far more limited than today. Queen Elizabeth I and Cleopatra were exceptions, not the norm. In ancient Greece, women were not permitted to participate in any public activity. Many never even left their homes. An unmarried girl or woman was the property of her father or brothers. After marriage she became the property of her husband, whom she had no voice in choosing.

Even if you hated history in school, we're sure you'll find a historical costume to love!

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