Costume College 2019: Friday

Costume College 2019

I know that the Rate the Dress post is very overdue, but I also think that three Rate the Dress posts in a row is rather repetitive! So RTD is on hold for the week so you can enjoy some other content, like Costume College 2019!

I had a lovely time at Costume College, but I’m also totally at peace with my decision not to go again. It’s no longer an event that’s focused on my interests, and I’d rather save my energy for local events, and conserving the environment.

The best part, as always, was definitely seeing old friends, and making new ones.

Here are some photos from the Friday Night Event. So many amazing outfits!

I apologise that I haven’t tagged everyone: if you know someone’s blog or handle that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments. And if I got a photo of you you’d like, if you leave a comment asking for it I’ll be able to see your email (no one else will) and can send it to you.

Love this mid teens frock! So charming:

Costume College 2019

And handkerchief hems and amazing stripe matching.

Costume College 2019

Jessica’s 1860s dress makes me so happy, and even more so when it’s paired with Sewing Through the Centuries’ equally fabulously pattern-matched Edwardian skirt:

Costume College 2019

Georgian gorgeousness in the haberdashery stand:

Costume College 2019

And Angela of Burnley & Trowbridge looking perfectly put-together amongst Redthreaded’s corsets:

Costume College 2019
Costume College 2019

1830s amazing ridiculousness:

Costume College 2019

And nice to see some WWI history represented on Constance. Her apron was starched within an inch of its life!

Costume College 2019

Madness at the American Duchess book signing table:

Costume College 2019

Bustle era Snow White!

Costume College 2019

And possibly my favourite photo of the night: Christine of @SewStine in her phenomenal embroidered 1900s skirt and Costumers for Climate Action sash reacting to seeing Amber of @VirgilsFineGoods chinΓ© francaise

Costume College 2019

Speaking of…

Costume College 2019
Costume College 2019

And having excited 18th century conversations with Nicole of @Silk_And_Buckram.

Costume College 2019

Amber and Cait of @WilloughbyandRose were my roommates and were the best possible late-night-chatters and getting-dressed helpers a costumer could want. They made the weekend so much fun!

Costume College 2019
Costume College 2019
Costume College 2019

I didn’t need any help Friday night though, because I went for 30s inspired faux jumpsuit made from Eastbourne Trousers and a hacked Henrietta Maria top.

Costume College 2019

Being comfy, having enormous pockets and representing my own pattern line? Couldn’t get any better!

Costume College 2019

I did enjoy the more elaborate costumes, like these phenomenal jointed wings:

Costume College 2019

And Kelsey’s EVA & Worbla fabulosity:

Costume College 2019

And Kenna of @houkakyou in more amazing 1830s (and amazing sense of humour!). I highly recommend her IG: she took my favourite photo of me from the weekend.

Costume College 2019


  1. Pamela says

    Thank you for these photos! There are a lot of gowns in your post that I hadn’t seen in any others, and they’re truly sublime!!
    If you don’t mind me asking, would you consider elaborating on why it’s no longer an event that’s focused on your interests? Have your interests changed or has the format shifted?
    I ask because I keep wanting to go, but the idea of the amount of travel (plus all the work I’d want to do to for costumes/classes) makes me wonder if the value offsets the outlay (and, the carbon emissions)
    I totally understand if your reasons are your own, and I will absolutely respect that, but I’d love to get a better feel beyond the usual COCO OR BUST that I hear from most people.
    Thanks. For the photos, the wonderful weekly posts, and for being you. <3

    • Happy to talk about it πŸ™‚ I actually heard a lot of people who have gone for years say that this was likely to be their last, and many people who have gone every year for years didn’t go this year.

      It’s no longer an event that really fits my interest because:

      – it’s so big it’s no longer a place where you can go and really meet people and develop relationships. It just ends up being frenetic running around for 3 days. That’s stressful, and not rewarding.

      – it’s feels heavily focused on beginners, and many of the more experienced teachers who are really scholarly or fabulously, massively experienced are no longer willing/interested in teaching, because teachers aren’t paid, nor are they chosen for their skill and experience. This year CoCo publicly said that other than a couple of classes, everything else was basically chosen by randomly drawing it and including it if it fit into the schedule. That’s really disheartening to me as a teacher and a student. My time is precious: if I offer to donate it I’d like at least the recognition that I was accepted because I’m good at what I do, and if I go to a class I’m sad about the wasted time if the teacher isn’t good at teaching or an actual expert on the subject.

      – Because teachers aren’t paid, and because the focus has been on beginners, CoCo isn’t attracting many people who work in the industry, which is where I’d like to be networking.

      – it also feels like CoCo is really trying to shift the focus to cosplay and other non-historical things. As a historically focused costumer, CoCo was amazing because it was all eras historical, and there aren’t many places that do that. That was what made it special and unique. There are a lot of cosplay and non-historical things I can do locally: I don’t need to travel for that.

      – The location is not fun. A heavily perfumed hotel and a lot of chain restaurants in the SoCal heat? An event has to be AMAZING for that to be a draw.

      – A lot of the events are moving towards a much more formal, performance based event, rather than social mingling time. I want to meet people, not watch performances. And I definitely don’t want to perform myself!

      So that’s why I’m not as sad as I might be about not going again πŸ™‚

      • Gillian Stapleton says

        Thank you for your honesty about this. I’ve saved diligently for several years to be able to afford to go, and now I know that it would no longer reflect my interests either. While cosplay and non-historical is fun and great, it isn’t my focus, and the concerns of climate change bother me greatly too.

      • Elise says

        Oh, very interesting assessment.

        And Gillian, I wonder what you are going to do with that erstwhile CoCo bucks?

  2. Wonderful! For those of us who have never even dreamed of going, this was a fun look at some of the splendiferous ensembles – and wow, those 1830s sleeves! visible from space?

  3. I have always admired the photos people, including yourself, posted of the marvelous creations displayed at Costume College, but based on the observations you make about why the event is no longer a good match for your interests, I no longer feel regret that I’ll likely never go, as it’s not a good match for mine, either. Thanks for your post–photos and observations both.

    • Likewise.
      It’s actually refreshing and indeed relieving to hear something other than, to borrow the phrase, “COCO OR BUST”. It’s not like I could ever really see myself going, with the expense involved, but, well, one does keep dreaming and regretting, mostly precisely because of the meeting people aspect.
      Love the photos. Will happily enjoy a local costumed picnic in a chateau garden instead. πŸ™‚

  4. RL Johnson says

    Love your photos and i must say am very sad about your not wanting to return. i have to say i DO agree with much of what you said tho.. one of the great pleasures of CoCo for me has been your lectures where i learned SO very much.. i hope you realize that you ARE appreciated πŸ™‚ — take care we WILL miss you

    • Thank you! I’m sad to give up travelling, but I’ll be sadder if thousands of different plants and animals die because of climate change πŸ™ I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my classes, and really appreciate you letting me know! I’ll still be blogging lots, and may even work up the courage to do a video or livestream or two. I know it’s not quite the same, but it’s still teaching πŸ™‚

  5. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    The amazing ridiculousness is indeed amazing. And that apron could make the ward rounds on its own if the wearer faltered.

    Costume College is a victim of its own success, and of being in LA. They need to split out into “tracks” and make sure that all tracks are covered, like any professional conference does. A small, but focused historical track, a large and free-wheeling cosplay track (they pay the bills), etc. There is FREE conference scheduling software that can handle it.

    When I was working and going to professional conferences, a frequent question on registration was “what track are you most interested in”. That let them arrange rooms sizes and schedules so a single track didn’t have serious conflicts. At times that left me torn between being dutiful because the employer was paying, and following my curiosity … do I want to stick to the computer-aided publishing or can I go hang with the animation people for an afternoon?

    And FFS, they could at least comp the rooms for the presenters. If Bubonicon can do it, they should be able to.

  6. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Have they considered satellite conferencing? With the sort of streaming video and conferencing that is possible, you could have a moderated session from the comfort of New Zealand.

    In one loooooong day, I taught people in Ireland AND Malaysia how to use some new manufacturing software … instead of a week’s travel time and horrible jet lag I got a whole lot of overtime pay and slept in my own bed.

    BTW, my parents spent an entire summer touring New Zealand. They loved it.

  7. Steph says

    Great photos, thanks!

    Actually attending this kind of event is my worst nightmare but it’s really interesting to see and hear about it!

  8. I’m sorry to hear you won’t be coming back. But I agree with you on many points. I’ve been going since 2003, but have only a 3 hr drive to get there. I’m also a historical centered costumer, and that’s what CoCo used to be, with a few scifi/fantasy thrown in. I wish it were that way again. Its basically my only outlet for historical dressing and taking classes, although those are very few these days. I really wish we were THE HISTORICAL convention again, as there are plenty of others that cosplay, etc do.
    After reading all your 1916 blog entries the last few years, I thought next year’s theme would fit in right with you. But I understand your decision. I’ll see you around on the interwebs.
    Val LaBore

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