When I first considered getting back into this hobby I promptly dismissed the idea. My thinking was if I couldn’t do it in a historically accurate manner I wasn’t going to do it. I got hung up on the idea that I couldn’t afford 12 meters of pure silk taffeta so there was no point. I just was not too interested in what the poor ladies were wearing. I was looking at Worth dresses and the like and drooling over them. I didn’t want to be making cotton shifts that the maid would wear.
Then I started to think in details.
I would have to use modern materials if the original material is illegal to own. An example of that is ivory.
If I was replicating something with fur on it, I would likely use fake fur as I’m not in favor of an animal dying for my hobby, it is too expensive to buy and I’m not skilled enough to not ruin the fur and make that animal’s death an even bigger waste.
And real jet and diamonds is simply not an option. What if one fell off!
I had no moral or ethical issues over using modern substitutes for these items. Once I agreed with myself that these substitutes would be OK I asked myself why a synthetic fiber would be considered wrong. True, polyester would not be an accurate fiber but if I can’t afford the real stuff polyester would be an affordable option. Also, synthetic fibers wash better. I would be wearing these outfits as a costume, not as a museum piece and not as a contest entry (at least not at this point). As costumes, they would get dirty and I’d have to be able to wash them without worrying that I ruined 3 days worth of pay in the wash tub! This started me into thinking of perspective. I wanted to look like a lady from the 1800’s but I don’t have her money or her maids. IT IS A COSTUME! If I’m a fake lady I can have fake fabric.
Don’t get me wrong! If by some miracle I find 12 meters of silk at $2 a meter I’m snapping that up and making me a dress. But, I’m not going to sit around waiting for that to happen!
So what will be accurate? I want to match styles to the era. If I’m wearing an 1880s dress I will wear lace up boots (granted they are pleather and not real leather) and not strappy stilettos. The correct sleeve style will go with the correct skirt style. If I make a dress that would be dated pre sewing machine then I’d like to think I’d hand sew that puppy. (No plans for pre machine dresses. I’m chronically lazy.) I’d also try to use colors that were available. No hot pink 1840s numbers unless I can find proof that there was such a creature.
How do the rest of you balance authenticity, expense, skills and availability of materials?