Tips for Getting Started in Living History and Historical Reenactments

If you are thinking about getting involved with living history and historical reenactments there are a few things you will need to know. Many of us are interested in the worlds we see depicted in films about the 1700’s and 1800’s. You will need to have more research under your belt to do your impression justice. This article includes some tips to help you get started on a good foot.


  1. Join an Established Group.

Someone who has been invested their time into reenactments for a long time will likely be happy to teach you what you need to know. This is a great place to get started because they will be able to tell you what you are allowed to wear. Established groups also often have clothes they are willing to loan new members. They will be able to point you in the direction of good research sources!


These groups are also the only way you can participate in any reenactment or living history events. Groups like this have liability insurance to ensure all of the participants and audiences are protected. Some of these groups even have insurance that is specifically written for reenactments and living history events.


  1. Don’t Act Like They Do in Movies.

Movies and television shows are not a good representation of what life was actually like in these times. Writers change a lot of facts and character profiles to present different period in ways that appeal to audiences by adding drama. The same can be said for novels, even from these periods. Do some solid research and base what you do on that.


  1. Choose Simple Roles First.

It takes a lot of historical knowledge to correctly portray an upper-class character. It is a lot easier to learn about the trade practices of the time than the politics, trade practices, bookkeeping, and more. Expect to start in a lower class, and move up as you learn and gather more materials.


  1. Have Some Future Goals.

Why are you doing this in the first place? Are you looking to educate people about how life really was? Keep up with your research and portray your findings as closely as possible. Try your best to balance the ages, races, and classes of reenactors in you group. Are you hoping to portray a specific person? Get ahold of their journals, family histories and whatever else you find.


  1. Be Patient, You Will Get Where You Want to Be!

All this research, collecting, and performance is hard work! We all want to dive into something and be good at it right away, but in reality it will take us years to get to where we want to be. You may start out feeling like your same old self, but wearing a corset. After a while, you will be able to become your character (and find the right corsets). Keep reading, listen to your colleagues, and share your findings with them. Even if it’s something they already know, they will be more likely to share with you because they see the hard work you’re putting in.

Karen Reviews the Best Waist Trainer Corsets for Ladies Doing Historical Reenactments or Just Going Out on the Town!

Ladies doing historical reenactments need to have high-quality, historically accurate clothing. Costume clothing just won’t do! You’ll end up being called a “Farb,” or someone who doesn’t care about keeping true to the historical ways and fashions. Your choice of fabric is very important for historical accuracy and comfort. Poly blends are far less breathable than the natural fabrics used by period dressmakers. These fabrics also look plastic up close.


If you are looking to have the most accurate corset ensure it uses two layers of sturdy fabric, such as canvas. The outer layer can be decorative, though many early corsets are meant to be worn as undergarments. However, they still often used color and luxurious fabrics outside of the lining. This means you can find a historical style corset and still wear it out on the town. You may be able to get away with a corset made with modern fabrics. Just be sure the pattern is based in the period you require.  


There are some corset shops that have historically accurate corsets. The best option is always to order a custom corset to fit your specific dimensions. Doing this will also allow you to consult with the designer about historically accurate fabrics and shapes. You are also likely to get the best fit for your body. This article will focus on ready-to-wear corsets from leading crafters. Most of these companies take custom orders as well. Oh and if you’re a bit short on the budget, find your corset here:


1860 Julia Corset By Period Corsets

Period Corsets offers a wide range of styles from many time periods. The Julia Corset is classic 19th century French style corset undergarment. The cool thing about this company is their customization options. The fabric options are: 100% cotton coutil (white, black, or beige), viscose/cotton blend (black or white), cotton-backed satin, and brocade (email seller for current options). This style allows you to choose whether or not you would like shoulder straps, and front busk. They can also use your own fashion fabric.  


Period Corsets is dedicated to offering corsets and costumes with historical accuracy. They put in the work meticulously researching patterns, drawings, and more to design historical petticoats, skirts, and corsets. Their corsets have been a top choice for costuming for the stage and screen.


Sweetheart by Dark Garden

The Sweetheart corset by Dark Garden is similar in design to the ones worn in the 1800’s. Corsets were meant to lift the bust and raise and reduce the waist. This corset may not be completely historically accurate, but it will be far more comfortable than other options. This is also a very versatile corset for any occasion. Because it supports the breasts while cinching the waist it is a great alternative for a strapless bra for special occasions. The nice thing about this design is that is is flattering on most any body type. Dark Garden does suggest the corset is best suited for those with moderate or full breasts. If you have a petite or athletic build, check out the Alexandra. The Alexandra does have straps and looks less smooth when worn under certain fabric. They also have a strapless version of the sweetheart for curvaceous women called the Valentine.  


Dark Garden takes time to ensure their designs fit real people, not mannequins. This means they have tailored their patterns over the years by consulting with their customers. The patterns they used are based on the average measurements from thousands of shoppers. That’s how they can offer ready to wear corsets to better suit their customers. They even have a line of contemporary couture corsets!    


Steel-Boned Longline Underbust Cotton Corset by Orchard Corset

Orchard Corset is one of the most popular corset retailers in the United States. Underbust corsets were more popular around the turn of the century. This may not be the most historically accurate corset, but it has the best price at under $100. It is 100% cotton and has a very attractive brocade look. It is pre-laced in the traditional bidirectional fashion. This means it is pulled and tied from where the waist should be smallest.


Orchard Corset only sells off-the-rack corsets, but many people are happy with their products. They have a corset for any occasion and every body type. Be careful if you are with a strict reenactment group. Many of their products are made with poly-blend fabrics. At their prices, however, you can buy several corsets for the price of one. Then you can have different waist trainer corsets for historical reenactment or just a night on the town!


P.S. This page will teach you about the best trimmer belts. For more information on waist cinchers, is a must visit!