As I’ve mentioned before, I have a ton of posts I want to get written, yet somehow the most interesting are always the ones you haven’t planned and just come to you – like something you have to share.
Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I am an avid doer of Murder Mystery parties. They are something I have been participating in (and hosting) since I was about 16. As of last year, a fairly set group of us, started doing Murder Mysteries regularly. The first was a Gangster one, the next set in Space, one after that was Pirate and so on and so on. We have bought proper (and the original) board game style boxed sets, we have downloaded some for free and we have paid between £3-£20 for downloaded ones too. Some have been a lot of ad-libbing, others have been mostly scripted – there have been good and there have been bad.
Recently I was given the wonderful opportunity to choose a Murder Mystery from a site, free of charge, in order to blog about it. After checking with the usual suspects as to who was interested, we settled on a group of 8. This gave us only one option from this particular site (its fairly new, up and coming) – a Hamlet Murder Mystery.
The Murder Mystery is so far unlike any we have done before. However once we’ve done it, I’ll blog all about it. This post however is actually about the costumes we’ll wear, or more specifically – the one I will be wearing.
My part is Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother and Queen of Denmark. I’ve done some research and while Hamlet is pretty much a time period free play, many costumes have medieval undertones. We’ve settled on a Medieval/Renaissance feel of clothing and of course that means I have spent literally hours trawling through Ebay to see what type of thing I might buy/wear.
The problem with any costume you buy, is the consideration as to how much wear you’ll get from it again. Realistically you hardly ever get wear from a costume again (let’s face it, we all like a new outfit every time there is an event to go to) but even still, you have to take this into consideration when deciding how much to spend. On top of that of course is quality, size, location etc.
Since the Murder Mystery is a little under 3 weeks away, I have limited myself to UK Ebay only and location of UK items only. This is limiting in itself. After that I have to consider my dress size – somewhere between a 14 and 16 – which according to many fancy dress companies is XL or even XXL(!!) The most stunning and beautiful dresses – the ones you fall in love with at first sight – are definitely in the region of £40 and upwards. The bottom end (and definitely lower quality) are more like £20. Therefore do you pick quality over price, or be sensible and go for the cheaper but less likeable options.
All these dresses can be found on Ebay. I searched “medieval dress” along with size XL (as majority of other dresses only seem to come in smaller sizes). These pictured above, range from £16-£20 and as you can see, aren’t the greatest selection. The only one I actually liked (which is the second from left) only came in 20-22, nothing smaller (at that price at least).
Next up are the mid-range options. These are from around £20 to £30 and actually aren’t much better. In fact, depending on which seller you’re buying from, even the lower range dresses can be found in this mid-range, just charged a bit higher.
Though the shapes of these dresses are a little nicer, the actual materials aren’t much better than the cheap ones. For the extra money, they’re definitely not worth any more than the other lower range ones.
If money was no object, your choices of course are limitless. The top line of these dresses range from £30 to £40 and are actually quite nice. However the bottom line dresses are all around £70 and you can tell the difference between the two qualities and prices.
Finally, this dress above is one of the highest prices for listed medieval dresses. Though clearly beautiful and well made, this dress with set you back well over £500.
Anyway, the my point is really – you can spend an awful lot of money on a costume and still be left with something not all that great anyway. Where do you draw the line between what is affordable, how you’d like to look (and lets face it, feel) on the night and also what you can justify spending for a few hours of dressing up.
Having weighed up my options and spent several days doing so, I have decided that I am actually going to make my own dress. At first you might think that this is a cheaper option, but ultimately I don’t think it will be. At patterns ranging from £5-£10, you’re already half way to one of the cheaper dress options. However my decision is based on the fact I think I can make a nicer looking dress, for less in comparison. It might still come out around £20-£30 and for sure it will take me a hell of a lot more time (and probably stress) than ordering on Ebay, but at least I’ll know (fingers crossed) that it will a) fit, b) look nice and c) be exactly the colours and material I want it to be.
The dress I have picked is the one above (its the same dress pattern in both pictures) and I aim to stick to similar colours – the red and gold. I only ordered it yesterday but hopefully it should be here in a few days time. My friend and I are then going to go shopping for material (she has chosen to make her dress too and we’re going to shop for them and sew them together) and make them within the next couple of weeks.
Hopefully I’ll be able to document the progress and show you how my completed costume looks. I’m actually pretty excited for this project, as its been a long time since I sewed anything.