A side show performer? That's supposed to reassure me?
It did make me laugh though. So it isn't all bad. Not that I don't like side show performers, I've met an escape artist and used to know a fire breather. Good folk.
Unfortunately, like many "oddities" in side-shows at the time, she might not have had a great deal of choice in the matter. Parents might have trouble affording to clothe and care for such a child - and side-show touring might be a way for such a person to gain independence later in life - and, unlike an escape artist - she was simply born that way.
I'm not sure about her - but her husband alone earned $400 a month. I don't have a great deal of knowledge on the exact exchange rates and conversions, but from what I can figure out - but from what I can tell, that works out to around £80 - which is almost double
what a labourer would have made in an entire year
. Just some perspective !
Also, she was over a foot
taller than you !
So there I am, with this great idea for exploring and having fun with the creativity of my artist self, and a list of my measurements. I got a big frustrated with trying to figure out sizes.
Knowing your measurements is definitely good. If you would like to try to sew, but do not do so right now - a simple full skirt is one of the easiest projects you can do to get a feel for it - and if you don't want to actually wear the skirt down - you can hitch it up while wearing trousers (something that some women actually did at the time, albeit in pretty laborious jobs like mining).
Since I am the opposite of tall, I do not know any resources in that area. I did know a girl who was about 6' and much larger than you - and she seemed to be able to find fitting clothing somewhere - so I think there's definitely hope. I am used to being shorter than a lot of people, so I honestly usually don't really think of it when someone's taller than I am.
I might point out something about pretty much all of us and vintage clothing or Victoriana.
Many (not all) of us are much taller than the average in those times, because we eat better. While the wealthier classes of humanity have always managed an adequate diet, in many times and places the "average" person was overworked, underfed, and/or fed in an improper nutritional balance. In Industrial Revolution times, sunlight was also a factor (rickets, anyone?). So the "average" person was smaller. Hence we often can't fit into "vintage" clothes for whichever gender. This makes modern seamstress skills, which can provide the same clothing in a larger overall size, much appreciated.
Another thing that is often not mentioned since it's "unsavoury" is that the "classes" did not mix as much as they do today. There was a lot of genetic material getting bounced around the upper-class (more likely to be photographed - so this is easy to see), and people simply looked different
because of this - combined with less ethnic mixing, you have a very different population.
I would guess genetic diversity likely also helped people grow stronger and healthier, in combination with a better diet and lifestyle. I mention it because I have found the "changing face" of society to be incredibly interesting - it came up when we were talking about faking old photographs once.
All the well-fitting clothing I own is from the 1920s or before. It's nearly impossible to find these sizes today. I have heard I should look to Asian companies, but I have not found anything yet - I would guess the language barrier is a problem as these are most likely not usually marketed at Westerners.
I recently bought a modern suit and it fits like a bag, and I plan to alter it as best I can to match the lines of the Edwardian tuxedo jacket I have, which is about the ideal figure I'd like (natural shoulders, non-boxy).
Since a lot of people have mentioned corsets, I just wanted to throw out the bit of information that Victorian waists were not
significantly smaller than modern waists. The main issue with vintage dresses, I've found, is the shoulders being too narrow for modern wearers.
When looking at Victorian photographs, one must remember that there was "photo-trickery" even back then, and certainly some antique photos seen on-line have been touched by modern PhotoShop as well. As well, photographs where a serious affair - they were quite costly and took some time to produce - a woman would likely have worn her very best clothing, and perhaps laced her corset tighter than she normally might (as might be done on "special occasions" like a ball, where a bit of discomfort was borne for that vanity).
Here, you can see how the top of the dress is padded
. Her actual rib-cage is not as large as it appears to be, and her breasts probably do not sit where the eye perceives they do - padding the bust, and sides of the chest ( Like here
), was definitely done, either to "enhance" the figure or to fill out a ready-made corset that didn't fit perfectly.
The point is that her waist is not as drastically re-shaped as it appears to be. Her waist is probably in the 24-27" range, nothing crazy or completely otherworldly - just some soft fat pushed around. Measurements like 16" and 18" were not common - and if seen were for the measure of the actual corset - which was generally left open quite a bit.
I think Victorian corsetting is greatly exaggerated. I see modern authors throw around ridiculous numbers for shock value and I think it's a warped picture that anyone takes them seriously.
Also, on the topic of "body image", I wanted to show this picture - none of the women are what magazines
would call "thin" today - none of them could be runway models, or even print models by today's standards. It's actually fairly uncommon to find antique pictures of women who are that
thin, the beauty ideal was in a way more natural than it is today (I argue that using a corset to smooth one's "lumps" is less invasive and dangerous over-all than having one's fat removed with knives and needles).
Lillie Langtry, while she certainly had an impressively corsetted waist, was definitely naturally larger than most super-skinny "famous beauties" of today.
One can only wonder what modern eyes and surgeons would require of these ladies. The simple truth is, it's not necessary - not for health in many cases, and certainly not to attract the opposite (or whichever) sex.
On the Wikipedia page about Corsets
, the most of the pictures of women in corsets have that same plump look. Look at the "before and after" picture ! Some women definitely took things to an extreme, like some still do today - but this was not normal
or common at all
(and it should be noted that even figures such as Polaire's have been subject to much re-touching, she certainly had a tiny waist, but people still want it to be smaller to be more shocking).
The Mata Hari never allowed topless photographs of herself because she was self-conscious about her small breasts.
i don't know you personally, but i feel the need to point out that you are simply fascinating...
O, shucks !