“Why Are You Dressed Like That?” Embracing Bygone Styles with Rachel Maksy and Morgan Donner

“Why Are You Dressed Like That?” Embracing Bygone Styles with Rachel Maksy and Morgan Donner

February 24, 2020 100 By Bernardo Ryan


– We just naturally assume,
that because we are now in the present, we have
technologically advanced such that our clothes are better,
our technology is better, our methods are better and more superior, and our clothing is more
comfortable, and more practical. That is not necessarily true. Hello, I am presently in Boston today, we have actually been sent
here by today’s sponsor, who you shall hear more about anon. We being myself, Morgan
Donner, and Rachel Maksy. I thought we would take
this marvelous opportunity, whilst we have three very
eccentrically dressed humans in our midst, to go ahead and
explore the topic of dress. (aesthetically dressed
people walking with Purpose) I think people often think that they have to categorize themselves within one very specific pre-set style. Be it goth, E-girl, Lolita, athleisure, whereas I don’t think it has to be quite that specifically defined. Everyone’s style is individual
and it can be defined in whatever terms you like. I think my personal style in
particular would be described as, academic, Victorian, witch. Were you to have asked me
five, seven, 10 years ago, what my ideal style were to be, I probably would not have been
able to give you those terms, because I don’t think often, one’s particular personal
style is quite so definable, until one endeavors to
explore style, and experiment with different silhouettes,
and different fabrics, and different garments. This has been said, time and again, a personal style does
not develop overnight, it does not develop over
the course of one year, unless of course, you have a
very defined objective with it, and a lot of money. In the beginning, I did not,
obviously start out dressing like an Edwardian, I still
don’t really completely dress like an Edwardian. And whereas my style has
specifically gravitated more, and more, and more towards the end of the specifically historical spectrum, not everyone aspires to get there. There is sort of a degree
on the scale of eccentricity that one can land. (we now transition to a
Queen herself, Morgan Donner) – It’s more of a percentage. Like if I am going to work, then I would say it’s more like, 50%. I incorporate lots of elements
that I enjoy in a sort of historybounding kind of context or way. I will wear jewelry that
is either historical or historically inspired. I’ll wear, again, the
layering that I like. I will often do my hair
up, but I won’t as much, as I might if I were purely gonna go out to hang out with friends. My style’s often been described
as like a 16th century, pinup-esque thing. I love Italian 16th century clothing, especially of the lower,
like working classes. It’s such a beautiful level of decoration, but also simplicity for
the sake of practicality. And so obviously I’m not wandering about in 16th century dresses per se, but I do love the layering
aesthetic that they go for, I love the bright blues,
and reds, and whites, so I incorporate that a lot into my dress. My amount of history integration varies from you know, 50, 60, 70, 80%. As the day requires. (Enter another Queen
and Icon, Rachel Maksy) – So for my personal style,
I usually take inspiration from pretty much anything that I see, so it could be old photographs,
it could be a movie, like “Lord of the Rings”, and Hobbits, pretty much anything I watch, and then instantly I
want to recreate outfits. I pretty much like to make outfits that tell a different story. This one’s kind of, like, a jock. So, you know, I just have
always been fascinated with how style can kind of
tell your own narrative, and express yourself. – When you find your true
style, when you find the style that you really feel good in, and you feel that expresses yourself really accurately, you have a different sort
of confidence about you, you exude this sort of power. And so I think that people are
not quick to mess with you, when you sort of walk down the street like you are a Victorian on a Mission. Or whatever it is that your style is. – There’s definitely a
different feel when you go out dressed vintage than
when you kind of blend in with the crowd, ’cause
that’s exactly what it is. Mostly when you dress “modern”,
people don’t bat an eye and you just kind of can blend in, and sometimes you want that. You also learn to just kind of
not care what anyone thinks, and just do it for yourself and the enjoyment of it, for yourself. But you definitely have to
get used to people staring and wondering what’s going on and why you’re dressed that way. Whereas when you’re wearing
modern, people just kind of are just like (shrug). But I have gotten into
some good conversations because you’re dressed
the way that you are, whether it’s just from
a passerby in the store, or some of my favorite conversations are with older people who can relate to this style a little bit more. Teenage girls seem to
like it for some reason, which is very surprising
because they are scary, (laughs in Fear) and so when they’re
the ones that are like, oh my God I love your outfit,
I’m like, (astounded gasp), I feel like I’ve been like,
(awkward gasping), thank you, please don’t, please don’t make fun of me. You’re part of their clan
when they accept you, you’re like (silently dying). It’s a good conversation
starter, and I guess that’s another reason why
sometimes I don’t dress vintage when I just I guess, purely don’t feel like talking to anyone, or getting looks. It does boost your confidence too, especially when you love the
outfit that you’re wearing, you want other people to love the outfit that you’re wearing. – There’s a lot of fear
and lack of confidence in people who are just starting to get into historical dress,
because of the uncertainty of how the public are going to react. I mean you just sort of get used to it. I don’t even hear people
on the street anymore. People perceive, I mean,
honestly quite wrongly, people perceive the past,
the Victorian period, with a sort of Elegance,
a Bygone Elegance, and Propriety, and Status(tm). When, I mean obviously we know
as historians, in reality, that is not true. But nevertheless, that kind of does work to your advantage nowadays
because people do treat you with a likewise sort of reflected sense of propriety, and elegance. Which I think is a sort
of interesting commentary on the weight that we
put on visual judgment, on people within society. It’s kind of interesting because we do equate certain
appearances with wealth, and therefore with higher status. And in a weird way, it’s
almost as if you can sort of cheat that system by
taking on a style of dress that people associate with
respected positions in society, and especially if you know how to sew, you can make these silhouettes, and you can make these
appearances yourself. You don’t necessarily have to
be that sort of class status, in order to achieve that,
that level of respect. (smiling cheekily) – One of the things that I really love about historical dress, both for full on events
where you’re literally like copying a painting and going 100%, it’s so lovely to have that
stepped out of a painting feel. I love that with
historybounding you get like, a little piece of that for your everyday, which is fantastic. There are, I’m sure, lots of
reasons why you might feel like you could or couldn’t do it. Just take the elements that work well with your own wardrobe, when it comes to incorporating
historical elements. I’m a big fan of the jewelry, so I have tons of
reproduction jewelry pieces, because they make me happy, and even if nobody else
recognizes what they’re from, I know exactly like, what dig that reproduction was based off of. Another one of my favorite things to incorporate is the hairstyles ’cause that is something that
you could wear like, jeans and a T-shirt with,
if you really wanted to. You’re not gonna get as
much of a, “I feel weird, or I feel like I look weird.” That could be a really nice
way to enjoy, you know, trying out that hair technique
that you read in a manuscript and like in pieces, and then
like modifying it to work well with a style you feel comfortable going to the grocery store in too, right? (dramatically stares
into the middle distance) – I dress up, vintage I
guess would be the term, probably 80% of the time. There is a lot of times
where I will just throw on a sweatshirt and
whatever skirt I have lying around just to run to
the store or something. I think sometimes it’s nice to sit down and actually get dressed
and put on the full makeup and plan out your outfit, but
yeah I would say probably 80, 85% of the time I like to
kind of craft my outfit, rather than just throw
on whatever is lying on my bedroom floor. – Having made historical dress, having owned historical dress,
having worn historical dress, I’ve found that there
are actually a number of practicalities that you just cannot get from modern clothing nowadays. Long skirts you would think,
are highly impractical. Yes, it does make going up stairs a little bit more challenging, you do learn to walk a
little bit differently, however I have found
that lining your skirts in stiff material, in
tarlatan for example, hold your skirt out, and
sort of stiffen it in a way that it sort of stays out of
your way, and you don’t step on it necessarily so much,
when you go up stairs. There are perceived impracticalities
of historical dress, and these perceived impracticalities were actually often solved by
people in the period who had to do similar activities,
to the activities that we have to do today. The benefit of long skirts is that you can wear nine
petticoats underneath, and you are the warmest person
walking down that blustery, wintry, snowy, windy, New York
City wind tunnel of a street. The layering is practical
for colder weather, and that natural fibers used in historical dress were
extremely practical, and still are extremely
practical for the summer months. We don’t realize often
nowadays that polyester, synthetic fibers, are plastic,
and plastic doesn’t breathe. When you put on a polyester
shirt in the summer, you are going to sweat to death. If you put on a cotton or a linen shirt, these are natural fibers,
they’re plant materials, whose natural engineering
it is to absorb moisture. They absorb moisture in their plant form, and they absorb moisture from the skin when you are wearing them, so
they keep you nice and cool, they’re light, they’re
washable, highly practical. And this is something that
we’ve just forgotten today because synthetic fibers are
cheap, and they are accessible, and they are easily mass producible, and that’s what we care about. We often forget nowadays,
that modern society runs on profit, it runs on capitalism,
it runs on efficiency, it doesn’t necessarily
run on practicality. I don’t walk into a high street
shop and think, I want that, I need that, I don’t know, I think when you have devoted
your life to studying, or exploring, or having an
interest in historical dress, and looking into how these
clothes were produced, and the methods that
they were produced with, and how they were worn,
how they were loved, and treated, and cared for. You sort of have no desire to
go into a high street shop. You sort of look at these
clothes and you’re like, eh, could do better, and especially
when you learn how to sew, or when you learn how to
alter, or mend, you think, oh, but I could do this with it. I could alter it like this,
and make it like this, it gets to the point where you’re like, I could just make it myself. I could make it to fit me, I could make it out of a lot
more comfortable materials, I could actually cut the armseyes
correctly because modern, high street shops, never
cut the armseyes correctly. And of course, I never
opt to wear modern clothes over historical clothing because I just don’t
have it in my wardrobe. I stopped buying it many, many years ago, and all I’ve really been doing nowadays, is making new clothing,
in the historical way that I want it to be. So I’ve just sort of,
over the years again, accumulated a wardrobe of historical, and historically inspired
articles of clothing. – I’ve had a few weird encounters, a lot of it is very similar, a lot of it is people asking
specific questions like, if you’re in costume. I was in college one
time in our cafeteria, just walking by one of the
tables, someone seriously, and not even trying to be mean
or anything, they were like, “Are you, are you in a play?” You get that a lot, just because I think, people don’t process the
fact that some people want to dress, different time periods, or different eras of style, so I think that the
way they process it is, oh they must be dressing up for a reason, there must be a production
of some sort going on. I also have gotten,
some drunk guy was like, “it’s too early for Halloween”,
you get a lot of that, you get a lot of people
who don’t understand what you’re going for. So yeah, you definitely,
you get your fair share of meaningful conversations
that come out of how you dress, and also real weird conversations too. – I feel like I’ve been very fortunate, and maybe it’s because of how I integrate historical fashion. I’ve had very, very, little
in the way of co-workers, you know, giving me side-eye,
because I’m dressed funny. Like, I literally go to
work five days a week, so, it’s not like I’m only doing
this, you know, when I jaunt down to the library and
therefore I don’t have to care what people think. Like I work with people
every day, and I do, my, like, 50% historybounding,
pretty much all the time. But I recognize that
perhaps I am consciously, or subconsciously, choosing
a level of integration that makes me comfortable, that I can feel like I can get away with. I’m sure that if you
asked people in my office what I’m up to, they’d be like, oh yeah, she’s the girl that wears
dresses all the time. But, that’s about as
much reaction, I think, that you would get out of them. So I definitely think
it’s possible to mix in what makes you happy, while still keeping that comfortable balance. I definitely feel very comfortable in my level of bound-y-ness. I very rarely will wear
something out that makes me go, is this too much, like I’ve
either decided I’m comfortable with it, or I go, no,
I would rather not wear that to the office. – Especially if you struggle with anxiety, with social anxiety, if you
are a very heavy introvert, I find that having a set of
well known, and familiar, and comfortable clothes,
really, really, really helps. I find that when I have a new article of clothing it does take
me a couple of wears, of feeling very self-conscious, “I’m wearing this new article of clothing, this feels very strange”,
before I start to, before it sort of becomes part of me. And it becomes sort of like a second skin, and I think that is part of the process of acclimatizing yourself to the notion of wearing eccentric, or
unusual, or historical clothing. It’s just wearing them often enough that they become part of you. You know how they move, you
know your body language, how you have to behave in an
article of clothing like that. For example, long skirts, you know how much floor
circumference you take up, so that you can go about your
day in a perfectly practical, and functional capacity. – I do think it’s definitely worth it, because I just feel like, life is short, and we are put here to express ourselves and if that is how you
wanna dress yourself, then that’s just another way
to do it, and I think, yeah, it brings me a lot of joy, and I think people who have unique styles, or just styles that make them happy, it is something to look forward to. If it makes you happy,
then it makes you happy. – It is completely worth the
effort in sourcing clothing, in making clothing, in doing
the research to explore what your style would be. Whether it is historical, or whether it is something
more fantastical, I think it is completely worth it. You brighten people’s days,
you sort of enlighten them to the fact that things are possible, you don’t necessarily have
to conform to very rigid, specific set beliefs and rules of society. You can express yourself, you are allowed this freedom in your life. Occasionally, you will get a strange or perhaps disapproving look,
in regards to your style, and you just kind of feel
bad for them honestly, because this is a person
who has been so beaten down by society, and so forced to conform to a very specific preset
system of beliefs, and system of rules, that they just
have no creative freedom, no personal expression. And it’s kind of sad, and
it really does remind me why this is important. In dress, as well as in any
other area of existence, to be quite honest, learning
how to think differently, learning how to think for
yourself, learning how to look at things in a different way, I mean this is how humanity grows, this is how society
benefits from new ideas, from new innovations. I mean, I know I’m taking
this in a completely sort of lofty, philosophical, overall
general view of the world, but I think as a concept it is important. It is important that we
learn to think for ourselves, and not to sort of conform
for the sake of conforming, and to express ourselves in
ways that make us feel happy, and make us feel like
our best, most complete, most fulfilled selves, because that’s, ultimately how we can better help others, and how we can better serve society. So the reason why the three
of us have ended up here in ye old merry Boston, is because this video
is actually sponsored by June’s Journey. June’s Journey have just
released a brand new, big, shiny new update which
involves collaboration and people playing together. First of all they have
introduced two new games. So in order to play these new games, you have to first form
a club of some friends. These can be online, fellow
June’s Journey member friends, or IRL friends. We all have phones because this
is the 21st century sort of. So we have been granted a
new icon with this update, and that is this detective lounge. Okay what do we want our club name to be? – [Rachel} Historically Adequate. – [Bernadette] Well
yeah, ’cause it can’t be historically accurate because
there’s no such thing. How do you spell adequate? – I shall Google this thing. After some minor technical difficulties. So now we have a club, and
you all folks can join. – [Rachel] Oh I have to apply. – [Bernadette] Approve. – [Rachel] Oh thanks, much celebration. – So now in theory we can start competing against other clubs. In order to play these games
we need a lot of energy points. And in order to get more energy points, they have set up this game so that you can buy each other coffees, and basically gift each other energy. So in theory we are now ready to play. If you would like to see
a little sneak previews of how the games work, and see, if and when we do crush the June’s Journey Development Team, that shall be on both of their channels, regardless of whether you
want to see the games, but these two are very
awesome fellow adventurers. And of course thank you to June’s Journey, for sending us on this wonderful
adventure to begin with. Let’s get back to some adventures. – [Rachel] All right. (pick up phones In Unison) Let’s get back to some adventures. (giggling) – [Morgan] Shenanigans, Miss Bernadette? – Definitely (mumbles
romantically to the lampshade). – I don’t know how to sit. (strange mouth noises) – Oh, this is why I don’t do interviews. (straight up grooving in the chair) You know, I think this
is a rugby ball, yeah, is it? I don’t know. Is it a basketball? I don’t know, but it
looks like I play sports. Oh it’s hot in here. – This is very hot. – Trying to think how to end that thought. What was the question? I don’t remember. – It’ll all be fine.
– It’ll all be fine.