Victorian clothing helps with modern problems


In the age of jeans and jogging suits, Kathy Brown wants to take women back to the days of walking skirts, traveling suits and gowns with bustles.

Ms. Brown, director of Shepherd's Staff, a cooperative ministry of Westminster-area churches, is mixing past and present in a fashion show to benefit her organization.

And, to let everyone compare, Leggett Department Store will present the newest fashions from casual wear to formal and holiday attire.

"The '90s of Then and Now," an evening of tea and fashion, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at Wilhelm Ltd. Caterers on Route 140 in Westminster.

Volunteer models will parade down the runway, first in Leggett's finery and then in authentic Victorian clothing from the Dorothy Elderdice collection, which includes nearly 5,000 ensembles.

Elderdice, born in 1892 at the height of Victorian fashion, collected the clothing during the 40 years she ran a costume business from her home in Westminster. At her death in 1979, she left the collection to the Carroll County Arts Council.

"It's really ironic that Dorothy Elderdice's costumes are helping me prepare for a benefit," said Ms. Brown. "It is like she is helping Shepherd's Staff."

Ms. Brown has put together 18 outfits from the collection for the show. Asked which era they prefer, most of the models chose the 1990s.

Victorians styles often sacrificed comfort for cinched waists and whalebone corsets. A fashion-lover might feel less nostalgic once she donned one of these outfits.

"Victorians wore too much," said Kathy Sterner, 15, a prospective model. "There is just too much to get in and out of."

Ms. Brown is writing the commentary for the vintage clothing and hopes to let the audience see "just what women did in these clothes."

"They categorized everything they wore," she said. "They also changed several times a day. What you wore shopping you didn't wear for afternoon tea."

As a result, the show includes velvet muffs and capes, and millinery with veils, flowers and feathers. Models, who range in age from 8 to 79, will wear beaded opera gowns, cotton frocks and satin suits.

"Some of the clothing is so small even the arms are tiny," said Suzanna Sabol, 16, who will be a bride for the evening.

Patrice McHugh tried on several combinations until Ms. Brown settled on a black silk cape, winter walking skirt and an enormous hat.

"I can just see her shopping in this," said Ms. Brown.

Ms. McHugh said shopping without losing the hat would be difficult.

"How did they ever keep these things on?" she wondered.

The answer is long hat pins and heavy hairdos, which the Future You hair salon of Westminster hopes to re-create for the models.

Victoriana will rule the evening from fashions to decorations to refreshments -- teas and elegant confections from turn-of-the-century recipes. Hostesses, including Ms. Brown, will also be in costume.

The show promises to be the first party of the 1994 holiday season, said Ms. Brown. She said the audience would see a step back in time.

Shepherd's Staff would like to sell out the 350 tickets for the second annual fashion show. The organization, which "offers kindness in times of need," recently moved to larger quarters at 30 Carroll St. and is providing more services to the county's neediest people, said Ms. Brown.

The $10 tickets are available at the door and at various locations in Westminster. Information: 857-5944.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad