Beast’s Ball Ensemble: A Costume Study

A few weeks back, I did a small study project on the yellow gown from the upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast (and now you can also find the blue provincial ensembles, and Gaston’s wardrobe, as well as my post-seeing-the-movie costume thoughts).  But as happens, things come up and information can be hard to find when all the focus is on one gown.  So this study will have suppositions based on what I know about the fabric types that tend to be used as well as what various fibers look like.

Let’s start with the easiest piece.  Beast’s tie is actually a cravat.  Cravats were invented just over a century before our story is supposed to take place.  This style of neckpiece was first worn in Croatia, and its name, as we know is, is based on a French mispronunciation of “Croate.”  This piece did become extremely popular in France in the mid-18th century in grand ballrooms and at royal courts.  The flowing style we see here was an evolution if earlier loosely-tied versions, and was first noted in the 1770’s, which is the general time-frame of this story.  Someone did their homework, or got lucky.

This cravat is made of embroidered net lace, and it appears to have the body of cotton netting.  Silk, unless starched, is a bit softer, as is rayon.  I just checked this using some wide embroidered nettings I have in my personal stash room.

The same lace is used at the sleeve cuffs.

The above photo also clearly shows a few other notable details.  The buttons on the frock coat (which I shall just call the coat) are embroidered, and the fabric used is a plain weave.  Very likely the coat is wool, though it looks a lot like cotton.  I can say for certain that it’s not a synthetic, such as polyester.  The decoration on the coast is also embroidery.*  Both of these details are also visible in the next photo.  Another detail, which is easy to miss unless you look for it, is the seam on the front of the sleeve.  I will address that in a short while.

(*Whether the coat is actually embroidered, or is really, really well-painted complete with irregular “stitch” lines is up for debate, but if they did paint this, then it begs the question of why the yellow gown’s detailing wasn’t painted to look like embroidery.)

I can not tell for certain, but the decoration on the waistcoat (aka “vest”) appears to be a painted decal.  It’s a bit too smooth to look like embroidery, and we know from the yellow gown that they aren’t above painting these ensembles.  There is a texture to the waistcoat, but it’s not as soft of a fabric as a silk damask, and does remind me of a silk-rayon blend due to the body of it.

The gold buttons on the waistcoat can be either plastic or metal.  I’ve seen La Mode buttons that look similar in plastic, though either is a real possibility.  These same buttons are also on the lower part of the breeches.

An interesting note, to someone like myself to is am embroidery-enthusiast, is that the embroidery’s lack of a connecting top thread between the stitches gives the appearance of hand-embroidery.  I can’t help wondering if perhaps it is.  That would be amazing.  Also this photo looks more like cotton than wool.  When I recreate this coat, I may use cotton.

A fun little detail, visible in the next photo, is that the coat is lined with a blue and cream jacquard.  That is the kind of detail I get twitterpated to find.

The breeches hold onto very small fibers in the same walk velveteen does.  That fabric is definitely too stiff for silk velvet, but has the body of a low-pile cotton velveteen.  It is a few shade darker than the rest of the ensemble.

As for the overall cut of this coat, waist coast, and breeches:

It is extraordinarily accurate to the era. Take a look at this extract ensemble (to the left) circa 1760 from the Victoria & Albert museum in London.  The bottom of the waistcoat, the cravat, the two-piece sleeves…

Ah, yes, that seam I mentioned.  As you may be able to observe, the sleeves on both the extant coat as well as the  film coast curve forward.  This shaping is achieved by cutting each sleeve in two pieces.

The breeches are also cut just below the knee, and are quite snug.   It would be severe more decades before men’s breeches hit the ankle, where they have stayed ever since.

As for the back of this coat, let us first admire the detailing on the back of this silk frock coat from the same circa, from the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum.

Just…look at that.  Excuse me while I take a moment to admire the detail, the seams, the craftsmanship, to appreciate the time that took…

All right.  Back to the matter at hand.  Did they, or didn’t they?

Yes!  Though this is my best photo of the back so far, and it’s not great, this coat is NAILED!  The wonderful pleases, that stunning gold embroidery, the proper seaming…  After the historical let-down of the gold gown (again, beautiful in its own right, but too incredibly far from the era in every singe way to remove me at all from the 21st century, and the overall style also failed to be cohesive to the rest of the costuming aesthetic), this ensemble makes me so, so happy.  Just look:

Okay, past the bell jar.  Look at this (and see the damask fabric better, which looks aallllllmost like a moire).

It’s just beautiful.  I’m glad they hit this one out of the park.

Next costume study: The Provincial dress.  That one, which does have some big historical liberties, still invokes the era, and has some small details I love.  Stay tuned for that one in the next few days.

Gift Card FAQs

Q: Why are gift cards paper cards?

Two main reasons: So you can gift them to someone else if you choose, and because digital gift cards are a hassle to keep track of.

If cards were digital, and someone were to gift the code, what do you think happens when one person redeems it, and another person tries?  Unfortunately, it reflects on me to not honor both, especially if the person the purchaser gave it to uses it first.

A paper gift card is harder to duplicate.  You do need to keep track of them and not lose them.


Q: How can I redeem a gift card?

You need to return it to me.  Make sure to redeem using a trackable method, and to take a photo of the card with “REDEEMED” written on the face with the card number visible in case the card gets lost in the mail.


Q: Can a gift card ever be digital?

No.  However, what can be done is you can pay for an item for someone else, and we can get it on my schedule at the time.  I’m not set up to keep track of digital gift cards on an open-ended basis.  So if you want to give someone a digital gift card, contact me and we can set that up as a commission right away instead.


Q: Can I use multiple cards on an order?

Multiple full-price cards can be.  Promotional and discounted cards are limited to one card per item.  So you can redeem two promotional or discounted cards that are for different items in the same commission, but not the same item.


Q: Do I need to use a card all at once?

No, but there is a caveat to this.  You do need to return gift cards to redeem them, but if you are willing to pay a new shipping fee out of the balance (see the next question), I can issue a new card for the remaining balance, or sent a new card with your item.


Q: Why do gift cards have a shipping charge more than $7 when it just takes a stamp?  Bigger places like Amazon don’t charge shipping.

I used to not charge a shipping fee.  A good while back, I paid out of my own pocket to have gift cards sent using delivery confirmation.  DC used to be a mere 35 cents on top of a stamp.  Then the post office nixed that, and started charging more than $7 and consider them to be Priority shipments.  So I went with the next least-expensive tracked option, which was certified. I came up against the problem of people not being home, cards being returned, and then either having to refund them, or pay again, from my own pocket, to send again.  Since this was a headache for all involved, I stopped paying for tracking for gift cards.  That’s when I came up against the big problem of people claiming to not get cards, me reshipping, a new claim of not getting them, and me having to refund them.  As a small, very small, business, I can’t afford to sent out hundreds of dollars in cards, especially twice, and then have to refund them anyway.  Those cards are still valid.

The new solution is to charge a delivery confirmation fee to the purchaser of a gift card.  These can be left in your mailbox if you aren’t home.  Amazon and other larger companies that don’t charge a fee are multi-billion-dollar companies that could afford to take a hit of a few hundred dollars, but they don’t.  Instead, they have automated programs to closely track gift cards, and can cancel them easily and reship them if someone claims to not have gotten their card.  I can’t afford the hits, and I can’t afford custom programs.  Everything I do is manual.

The delivery confirmation fee is to help cut back on this new issue of claims of not getting untracked cards.

If someone still claims to not have gotten a card, and has their bank do a chargeback, I can use the tracking to disprove the claim.  If the bank errs on the side of their customer, I can invalidate the cards associated with that payment.


Q: Why can you invalidate card numbers, but not track lost gift cards?

I technically can, but don’t.  This helps prevents fraud.  If someone buys a card, claims it’s lost when they know where it is or gifted or sold it, and I cancel and reissue, it’s going to reflect on me if the cancelled card was gifted/sold/otherwise transferred, and I don’t honor it.  So either I honor duplicates and end up run into the ground, or I don’t honor it and someone who received it from the purchaser is stuck.  Both make me look bad.

As far as invalidating cards associated with a chargeback, if someone tries to use it after receiving it, I can tell them exactly who got a refund and when.  It won’t reflect negatively on me if I have that kind of information.  It will reflect on the purchaser to have given or sold a card they got a refund for.


Q: What happens after a chargeback?

Sellers have very little recourse since banks usually err on the side of their own customers.  So anyone who does a chargeback without contacting me first will be banned from purchasing gift cards in the future, and if the card was already redeemed, will be permanently banned from commissioning anything at all from me.


Q: Do gift cards expire?

Gift cards purchased at full value do not expire.

Promotional gift cards, meaning those that are 100% free for gift bags and such at various events, do.

Discounted gift cards or gift cards for specific items are on a case-by-case basis.

Expiration dates are addressed on each card.  Cards that don’t expire will state that.


Q: Why do some expire, but not others?

A gift card paid in full is cash that’s been prepaid.  The actual price paid for a card does not expire. There are even laws preventing gift cards from expiring beyond their purchase price.

Promotional gift cards are cards I receive literally nothing for, and in fact, lose money since I receive nothing to cover supplies.  A supply item that costs $5 today could cost $50 in a year.  An expiration date protects me from being financially torpedo’d.

Discounted cards depend, and any expiration dates will be disclosed before money is accepted.  The reason is the same as the promotional card.  An expired discounted card will retain its purchase value.  Groupon does the same thing to spare merchants and service-providers from financial harm as their costs rise.

In some instances, discounted cards might not expire, usually non-specific item cards, or cards for items made from fabrics that are a part of my normal stash, such as something made from plain white cotton.


Q: Are gift cards refundable?

No.  You need to make sure to provide a valid shipping address.  Returned cards will be mailed again to you.


Q: Do gift cards mean you’ll make my order right away?

Unless otherwise specified, all items are subject to normal scheduling.  If I couldn’t rush your order if you were paying in cash, then I can’t rush your order for using a gift card.


Q: What if I have other questions?

Please contact me, and they’ll be added to this FAQ.

Titanic Swim gown with REAL pearls

This swim gown is made from a French silk chiffon, as opposed to the more common Indian, and the fibers are more tightly twisted, giving it a crisper feel, not as stiff as organza, but with more body that Indian chiffon. It flows beautifully, and I wish the place I bought this planned to get more in stock. As usual, all fabrics are hand-dyed (and my bathroom sink is still pink to prove it!!).

The bodice has embroidered English netting instead of the usual type of lace I usually use, and I think this one is much prettier. It’s a remnant I have had for years. The pearls on this one are genuine Australian pearls, and they add a luster even the best crystal pearls just can’t replicate. A new touch for this gown is to use them on the front of the bodice as well as at the neckline, and the effect is so rich and beautiful without being heavy. The pearls are at home now, down in Australia where this gown now resides!

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Titanic Swim gown, a variation

This gown is a variation on my typical Titanic Swim gown.  This gown has long under sleeves of chiffon, no pearls, and the waterfall in the back is slightly longer.  The original had a train, but most people want this gown floor length.  Either are lovely.  The rest remains the same, from the silk to hand-dying and staining a sink.

Enjoy this variation!

More photos are in this Facebook album.



Rainbow Dash


This dress was inspired by the My Little Pony character, Rainbow Dash. Dashy is a blue pony with a rainbow mane. Made of a polished blue cotton in regency styling, this dress takes an un-regency twist with a rainbow of buttons down the back. The sash can be tacked at the sides or left loose. The hair ribbon is on a spring-pin and is included. Every little one who loves her favorite pony needs something for her hair! Each pony will have a dress.

More photos are in this Facebook album.


When I need measurements, these are the charts I usually use.  I usually don’t need all the measurements on any one chart, and usually also ask for base of next to the floor.  Measurements can be in inches or centimeters.

When measurements are taken, please be very careful.   Providing incorrect measurements can result in something that can’t be altered well.  Don’t provide your dream-measurements, no matter what.  Incorrect measurements, whether by accident or intentionally (a lot of brides intend to lose weight, but don’t succeed, and I’m not responsible for this) happen with some frequency.  A great-fitting ensemble requires accurate measurements.

Corset chart:

Female-sexed body chart:

Male-sexed body chart:

Miscellaneous chart:

Titanic Tea gown

This gown was made from silk duchesse satin and lined with 100% cotton. Four different laces were used, though a few more were bought until the combination was to the client’s liking.

There are a couple design changes. On the original, the overlay meets just above the waistband. which is slightly above the natural waist. That can slightly visually add weight. On this one, the front is left more open, and the sash is lowered to the natural waist. This gown is for a woman who is about a size 10, but these changes visually slim the figure, as per her request.

There are four pieces to this gown. The first is a lace chemise with close-fitted sleeves and green lacing in casings at the neckline and bottom. The bodice closes up the back on a slant to prevent a closure up the center back panel. Several yards of heavy, white venise lace over tulle cover the skirt, which was entirely hand-sewn. The sash is made of orange silk velvet piped with black silk velvet. It is interlined with an interfacing to give it support, but not so heave that it can’t conform to the body’s curves. It is lined in black cotton flannel. The flower is permanently affixed to the sash. It closes with four heavy hooks and eyes beneath the flower in the front.

These photos were taken during a very brief rain break. I had actually had it all folded, but when there as a break in the rain, hurried to put it on the dress form to take photos. So I didn’t get a chance to iron. I took about a dozen pictures and got back inside just as it started to drizzle again. Our home at the time was far too small to take full-length pictures inside.

More photos are in this Facebook album.