Thursday, August 04, 2011

Standards (as written by Sir Thomas)

Greetings!  This is Sir Thomas Sully, Lady Sully’s husband.  My wife has graciously allowed me to use her blog to say this.

Life is a funny thing in many ways.  I would like to expound upon one of those ways…standards.  Standards, when set high, are the means to greatness.  One cannot achieve good things with out high standards.  If there are no standards, if there is nothing better to shoot for then why do anything?  Regarding costuming there are two camps: Costuming or Historical Reenacting.  Either of them are fine as long as you understand each of their own standards and expectations.  Some people just want to dress up and “feel pretty”, that’s great!  But please don’t call yourself a reenactor.  A reenactor strives to meet the standards of the time they are trying to portray.  This is basic common sense, if you want to reenact then you must do extensive research so you know how they dressed, spoke and carried themselves.  You must (and I cannot emphasize this enough) use fabrics that they used.  One cannot use synthetic fabrics and then expect those with standards not to criticize you for it.  I understand cost can be an issue, but if you want silk but cannot afford it do what they did in the time you are trying to portray…don't get silk!  Use other natural fibers.  I could continue with each individual item i.e. hair, buttons, skin art etc., but I will refrain.

Yes, we all just want to have fun, but do not be offended when some of us have the most fun only when things are be most accurate we can be.  With out standards nothing would get better, there would be no goal to shoot for, there would be no excellence.  And sorry to say where there is excellence there must be the poorest quality.  Just like there cannot be good without evil and there cannot be light without darkness.

Standards give us all something to strive for and if you want to be better, more accurate, honor our ancestors, and help the world understand history then shoot for the high standards, do your research.  Reach, strive, achieve, you will feel much more fulfilled and proud of what you have accomplished when you reach for those standards.

8 Witty Sentiments:

Melissa said...

Well said, Sir, well said.

Cécile said...

I can only agree!

MrsC said...

Sir Thomas that is a very well put argument. However, your standards are calibrated upon one criteria - historical accuracy. And what does that mean? Does it mean Lady Sully hand sewing, and by candlelight only, for example? From what I can tell, there are different degrees of acceptable accuracy according to the personal standards of any individual or their peers. And then there is the school of "do as they did" which is about using accurate fabrics, techniques and so on, and the 'think as they thought' school who maintain that if our ancestors would make do with a particular fabric or style, or use what was commonly available, then doing so in a modern context is more historically accurate.
I have no opinion myself, I find it all amusing if anything. I am a theatre costumier and therefore my standards are about what shows up at the back of the audience, which means much of the gorgeous and delicate accurate work reenactors do, would be wasted! :)
And aren't you lucky to have a lady wife with so much patience and commitment to producing beautiful, accurate garments! :)

Lauren said...

Well, my sweet husband is defending me, which is why he wanted to write this. Also, I do sometimes sew by candlelight in costume :P I am a dork :D

Kleidung um 1800 said...

Well said, Sir Thomas. Agreed.
We have a saying over here "To call the child by it's name" - I wish there'd simply be a more careful use of terms for events (with emphazise on clothes) etc, like "strive for historical accuracy", "movie-inspired, literature inspired, romantic fashion/costuming", "historical inspired costuming", "historical look, modern technics", "fun costuming"...whatever...if events, websites and blogs would be labled more carefully/specific and display the different aspects nobody would be left confused, dissapointed etc.
There are different approaches to "sewing" and that's truly wonderful (because crafts and creativity are wonderful), but it's confusing - especially for beginners or visitors - because often we are merely faced with vague, less explanatory terms like "Renaissance", "Regency" or "Baroque".
Please, label your standards.

Sabine

MrsC said...

Oh my goodness, how could anyone criticise your beautiful work, Lauren? Disgraceful! I totally applaud Sir Thomas defending you. I think it is fantastic and gorgeous and I love to read about your antics. And it works for you and what you guys are about. So why on earth would anyone criticise it? The world is an odd place. I certainly never meant anything I said to add to that, but without a context it did come somewhat out of left field and felt a teency bit like an unprovoked put down of those of us who are aiming for a different outcome :) I get it now and I have to love a chivalrous husband. Love to you both, and laugh and flick your fan at the naysayers!

Alisa said...

Very well said! I could not agree more! It's all about definitions. If people want to wear costumes that are awfully off the mark, they can, of course. Whatever. But they cannot expect accurate people's praise, and they should not wear it to museum events or other events demanding accuracy, and they shouldn't tell people that "that's what the colonials wore".

In public events, it has to do with educating the audience. Many people have absolutely no clue about history and assume what you wear is correct and leave with a false impression. It is a little like lying.
In private events, it has to do with the illusion and immersion - inaccurate clothing ruins the historical feelings for other participants. In both I feel invisible compromises can be tolerated, because they don't harm anyone. The invisible things are down to each person themselves - but the enjoyment and pride you can take in your garments is much greater when everything is correct.


I applaud your chivalrous husband for defending you, and you for your most wonderful works, Lauren!

Meg said...

I think Sir Thomas makes some fine points, and it is so wonderful that he wants to defend you! I love your work and think it is beautiful and inspiring. Alisa's points about accuracy when it comes to a PUBLIC impression are very well taken; when there is an educational aim, I think accuracy is of prime importance.

However, I think it is as well to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Even the most die-hard, hand sewing-only costumers were once novices, and developed their knowledge and skill through practice, research, and often with the guidance of others who were further ahead on the learning curve. I would rather see a person with genuine interest who has made an attempt (however poor or inaccurate) come to an event with the desire to be part of the group and learn, than to banish them because they cannot conform to my own set of standards. I think that a honest attempt IS worthy of praise, even if the result is imperfect. I call that "encouragement".