Step right up to the Entangled Summer Carnival Photo Booth! Who doesn’t wish they could step back in time and dress up in some of those fantastic fashions? Our Scandalous and Select Historical authors are talking about which historical figures they would dress up as for our historical photo booth. Let us know who you would want to dress up as and snap a photo of yourself for your photo album.
I have a passion for collecting stories of eccentric women throughout history who dared to step outside the dictates of society. If I were to dress like any of these women, I would choose the most willful one of the bunch. Daughter of an earl, Lady Hester Stanhope (12 March 1776—23 June 1839) was niece to William Pitt the Younger. She acted as his secretary while he was prime minister of England. The government knew that Lady Hester Stanhope was the brains behind Pitt, so upon his death, she was awarded a lifetime pension, which she promptly used to pursue an outrageous life in the Middle East. Off she went by sea, only to have her ship crash on the rocks in Rhodes. She lost everything but the clothes on her back, and had to borrow from the Turks. That’s when she discarded tight corsets and heavy layers of fabric and took on their manner of dress—the men’s dress, that is. Thereafter, Lady Hester never wore anything but robes, turbans, and slippers while she tramped about in the desert, slept in the tents of Bedouin sheikhs, traipsed through Turkish palaces, and learned to smoke a water pipe. Oh, and for a while, she took a British lover twelve years her junior. I simply had to weave unconventional Lady Hester Stanhope into my series Those Magnificent Malverns, so I created an eccentric grandmother who’d been Lady Hester’s accomplice on those scandalous desert journeys.
If I could dress up as a historical figure, I’d pick Lady Jersey of the Regency period. She’s perfect for me because I write Regency period historical romances. Lady Jersey was one of the patronesses of Almack’s, the exclusive club where young ladies hoped to find a desirable marriage match. Gaining a voucher to Almack’s was like a Quest for the Holy Grail. Only the patronesses—a select group of ladies—decided who could cross the club’s threshold. For a night at Almack’s, I’d love to dress as Lady Jersey in an exquisite ball gown. My dream gown would be cerulean blue crepe with short sleeves over a slip of white satin. The bodice would be cut low and adorned with silver beading, and the hem would be delicately embroidered with silver flowers. My hair would be in the Grecian style with soft curls around my face and the back pulled into a chignon and decorated with a simple wreath of white flowers. A diamond necklace, diamond drop earrings, two diamond bracelets, long white gloves, and white satin slippers would complete the outfit. Who wouldn’t feel beautiful wearing this for a night out?
I would dress as Anne Bonny, a pirate in the 1700s. She disguised herself as a man and sailed the seas with her lover, Jack Rackham. Anne was a strong woman who fought alongside her brethren as an equal. She was tough and demanded respect—although she dressed as a man, many knew she was a woman. You could almost say she was a pioneer in feminism before the word actually existed. What a woman!
If I could dress up as any famous historical figure it would have to be Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. I’ve always found this woman fascinating, and strong of character, and the fact she’s related to Diana, Princess of Wales is just another boon against her name. For a woman who married at just 17, she became one of the most famous, and at time scandalous figures of the Georgian period. She partook in political speeches, was a leading fashion icon (which many tried to emulate) and gambled away what we would consider small fortunes. She fell in love with a future prime minster of England and had love affairs. Who’d not want to dress up as the Duchess of Devonshire, if only for a day.
Though Catherine the Great is often remembered for her scandalous personal life, her accomplishments as the Empress of Russia were remarkable, which is why I choose to dress up as her. Well, that and the amazing gowns and jewels she owned. Catherine wasn’t a native of Russian, but just six months after marrying the Emperor, with the help of her loyal guard, she was able to oust her husband and become the empress. During her rule, she triumphed over several uprisings, greatly expanded Russia’s territory, and was an enlightened ruler who wrote several books, was a champion of the arts, and was responsible for amassing much of the treasures that are housed in the Hermitage Museum. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the rumors about her engaging in inappropriate activities with a horse are not true.