Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bodice 101

I'm blogging this from a motel room in the vicinity of Seattle, Washington. In a couple of hours I'll make my way to the materials pick-up for the Danskin Triathlon. Tomorrow morning I'll throw myself into the chilly waters of Lake Washington, along with 5000 other women, and flail my way about 600 meters through the murk until I eventually emerge, gasping, wheezing and frozen solid. Then I will climb onto my shiny new bicycle and ride until they tell me I can stop. Then, in case I'm still not convinced of my generally poor physical condition, I'll walk 5k. I would run it but I'm fundamentally not suited for running, mainly due to my flipper-like, non-weight-bearing, purely decorative feet. I have new orthotics and the left one is not quite right which makes my left leg feel like someone is driving a spike up my tibia by the end of the day. So no running this year.

Meanwhile, since I have a few minutes (translation: none of my WoW buddies are on at this ungodly hour and I got tired of playing alone), I'll finally get around to talking about my visit to this renaissance festival two weeks ago with my wonderful cousin.

Okay, first of all I had no idea my cousin could sew at all, and come to find out she's made this incredible dress. I will post a photo of it when I can. Anyway it featured a laced bodice, double skirt, removable sleeves, the whole bit. Sumptuous. Divine. A friend of hers was visiting from Chicago and was also wearing a cool dress that she'd made.

I was wearing shorts and a tshirt. Maaaaaaaaaaaaan.... I felt so underdressed.

So off we go, after leaving the baby with the eldest of my cousin's daughters (more on that later) and make our way through Ye Olde Parking Lot to the faire. On the way in, a teenage emo thespian dork loudly claims that I am wearing his shoes that I stole from him. This right here is enough to keep me from ever attending another faire... but I soldier on.

Once we get inside, we are assaulted by bagpipe music. Which I secretly love. Shh! Don't tell anyone. There are tents full of medieval and pirate themed merchandise. Food booths featuring Ye Olde Polish Sausage, or a roast turkey leg for that authentic 16th century feel.

My friend Alison calls me at this point. Surprise! She and her family have come up for the faire!

As we peruse the merchants' wares and consume our Ye Olde Curly Fries, I find my gaze directed repeatedly to the, um, frontal regions of many a becostumed wench. There appear to be three general schools of thought regarding bodices. I will, as a service to you, outline them here (with illustration).

Bodice School of Thought #1: Elizabethan. This style is the most modest. The wearer's bosoms are snugly laced behind walls of boned fabric. The image that came to mind most often was the fantastic Cate Blanchett, whom I give you now:

Mind you, no costume at the faire rivaled this one.

Bodice School of Thought #2: The Merchant's Wife. Here the wearer's "girls" are squeezed upward and bulge out from the top of the bodice, but are still technically contained within the confines of the garment. In some cases, the bulge borders on obscene, with the casual observer such as myself wondering when the seemingly inevitable catastrophic failure would be taking place and whether anyone's eye would be put out when it did. A slightly less extreme example:

Bodice School of Thought #3: The Lusty Pub Wench. This bodice does not so much conceal the breasts as showcase them. The garment ends below the actual prominences which are thrust forward, torpedo-like, within their peasant blouse. Think St. Pauli Girl. It was this style that got my attention as I sat watching a truly decent Celtic band -- a couple of barefoot late-teens girls were dancing and twirling about in front of the very un-medieval aluminum stands, their perky pontoons bouncing and jouncing this way and that... it was very nearly hypnotic. Of course, *cough cough* mine was a purely academic interest. Behold:

This is actually a rather refined example, as the girls that I saw were more snugly enveloped by their blouses and little was left to the imagination. Given a choice, I prefer this approach really.

This ends our lesson on laced bodices and the wenches who wear them. :)

More about the baby and her sitter: my cousin's daughter took Delia to a bakery and bought her a cupcake, which the baby ate no-hands style to the amusement of onlookers far and wide. That's my girl!

1 comment:

yellojkt said...

There was a St Pauli Girl poster in my college dorm i still fondly remember. The bodice type I see at most RenFairs in the board. The tatas are just laid out horizontal for all to ogle.