Why is it offensive when people (visitors) call our clothing "costumes"???
My response was:
Costume: non-accurate pretend clothing to give an impression, whether it be of another era in time or a clown or Santa Claus, etc. Many will use velcro (or zippers) instead of accurate closures (buttons, hooks & eyes).
Period clothing: Accurate styles of another era in history replicating as accurately as one can (including underpinnings and undergarments) the clothing of whichever era one is attempting to emulate. These will be made by using the same materials and patterns as original garments.
And then I also added:
By the way, I don't get offended when a visitor calls it a costume. I will kindly let them know that what we wear are accurate period clothing, and then will explain to the visitor the difference between the two.
I do get offended, however, when another reenactor - one who should know better - calls what I wear a costume.
The original poster then added the following:
Here's why I asked this question...being a former Library Assistant whenever something like this comes up I like to refer to a good source of information. Like all of you, I started to get offended by my clothing being called a "costume". BUT here's what the "Illustrated Oxford Dictionary" gives as definitions. 1. a style of dress, especially that of a particular time, place or class. 2. a set of clothes. 3. clothing for a particular activity. 4. an actor's clothes for a part. 5. a woman's matching jacket and skirt.
Furthermore....the Columbia Encyclopedia 5th ed. gives an almost full page description of the topic of costumes, mainly calling it "distinctive forms of clothing" It goes into clothing of various centuries and countries focusing on the different articles that compose a particular time and place costume. Example: an American lady of the mid-19th century would wear...it goes into all the articles of clothing (including underpinnings and what materials the clothing (costume) used to be made of. Your thoughts on this now.... Maybe we should say yes it's a costume, but unlike an actor's or Halloween....our costumes are based on authentic, period correct examples.
I responded with:
I stand by what I wrote. We can discuss this in person if you'd like. You wear your costume and I'll wear my period clothing. But give all reenactors and living historians the respect they deserve and call it period clothing, for that's what we prefer.
Furthermore, "farby" is not in the dictionary but we all certainly know what that word means.
Now that's where my part of the discussion ended on this thread (ha! get it? thread? such a witty guy!).
But you know me better than that, don't you? I can't just let it go...
We don't call our modern day clothing a costume, do we?
We don't call a young lady's prom dress or a young man's tux a costume, do we?
And can you imagine the horror of a reenactor dressed in mourning clothing hearing someone call what they have on a mourning costume?
"Yes, dear, she wears that black costume because she's pretending that someone she loves died."
I'm shuddering just thinking about it!
|Believe me when I say that what this woman in mourning is wearing is not a costume|
The Amish and Mennonites: their clothing, especially in the Amish community, is quite different from our modern styles, correct? Kind of old-fashioned in comparison but not quite "period." And yet we would (hopefully) not call what they wear a costume.
Nor would we call the vestment or robe of a priest or what an old-style nun wears a costume - whether you are Catholic or not - if only out of respect for their beliefs (although I see priest and nun costumes in a costume shop - kind of offensive when you think about it. It is disrespectful in my opinion. But who am I...).
To me, calling the authentic clothing from another era in time a 'costume' when one knows better is a slap in the face not only to the wearer, but to the one who spent the time researching and sewing the garments and, more importantly, to those who wore the clothing when it was originally in style.
I have seen my wife, as well as other women & men, spend hours upon hours making clothing and accessories (accurate style bonnets, belts, collars), attempting (and succeeding) to emulate the styles of the past to a "T" - I dare you to call what they made a "costume."
However, when a non-reenacting visitor comes up and says something like, "I like your costume," I don't get offended. I simply will say "thank you" and proceed to educate them in the world of historical clothing.
It's the same with my carpet bag: I get many people - reenactors included - calling me a 'carpet-bagger,' which then leads me to discuss and teach them the history of the carpet bag and why it is inappropriate to call me such a derogatory name before the Civil War's end.
And since I very rarely will time-travel past early 1865, there will be little chance for anyone to use such a disparaging term on me.
Again, I would expect to hear such terms as 'costume' and maybe even 'carpet-bagger' from the general public, but hopefully not from other living historians.
|Costumes? I think not...!|
And that just cannot happen in a costume.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you get offended at such terminology?
~ (Just so everyone knows, there was no malice or bad intent of the woman who posted the query in the first place. She only wanted to get a discussion going and hear others opinions) ~
By the way, here are a few links that pertain to the subject at hand:
The Cost and Satisfaction of Civil War Living History (With Notes on Men's Clothing)
More on Time Travel and How To Accomplish It
Researching History - Expand Your Knowledge
Reenactors in Tintypes
More Reenactors In Tintypes