Your Wardrobe Unlock'd™ is all about encouraging you to make better historical clothing. Part of the way we do this is through our Costume Competitions, which challenge and inspire you to show off what you've learnt!
You don't have to be a world-class costumer to take part! The point of the Competition is to get you trying things you wouldn't normally try, and to stretch you a little way outside your comfort zone, no matter what level of skill or experience you have, in a safe environment where we're all supporting each other. Some of you will be able to share your experience and ideas; others will show us your journey along a huge learning curve. Don't ever underestimate yourself and overestimate everyone else! Have a go!
There is a lot more to it than the competitive element. All entries are uploaded to the website and displayed publicly during our week of voting, to be celebrated, admired and supported by everyone. The comments give you a great boost of encouragement from like-minded enthusiasts, you give others the opportunity to admire and learn from your experience, and those of you with more confidence will get the publicity you might be looking for.
"I took this contest to try out new techniques and it really helped me progress!" - Emilie Derville, France
"I loved having a set theme and deadline which made me actually start (and more importantly finish) working on something." - Anonymous survey response
"It is challenging, very inspiring, great source of eye-candy and fun above all."- Anonymous survey response
Please note some minor changes to the rules for 2016, given below in red.
We're an inventive species and always ready to experiment with the weird and wonderful... but many fashions have been relegated to the rag bag of history. Some, justifiably so. Others just seem to have slipped from our collective memories, never to be worn again.
People often refer to the 1970s as the decade that style forgot. But throughout history, humankind has been subject to many a fashion faux pas. We all know about tales such as the Spencer jacket – an item created as a joke against silly fashions, which went on to become the iconic look of the Regency age - but there are others which were never intended to be a joke.
|Woman's Spencer Jacket c.1815 (LACMA. Public Domain Image.)||'The Bicycle Suit' 1895, Punch Magazine. (Public domain image, via Wikimedia Commons)||Attributed to William Scrots (fl. 1537–1554). ([Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)|
Have you ever wondered why so few people re-enact the 1830s? Have you ever seen a reconstruction of a 16th Spanish court dress on a modern woman? Would your child appreciate a velvet skeleton suit, or a frilly 1890s smock? And imagine walking down the street today sporting six foot wide C18th panniers, chopines, a damp regency dress, or a huge C16th embroidered codpiece? Could you do the school run in a hobble skirt?
|'The Fashions of 1830' - Lithograph. (Met Museum, NYC. 1971.564.193, OASC license)||Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens, 1609. ([Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)||Satirical postcard, circa 1911. (By Uncredited. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)|
How would you react if your boss strolled into work one morning wearing a towering, powdered Macaroni wig? The déshabillé style seduced Charles II, but what happened when a lady stood up? And who on earth first came up with the idea that it would be great if we all looked like our head was being served up on a dinner plate?
Philip Dawe [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Court dress with panniers, c/1750.
There is a good reason that some fashions stayed in the past - but we're also feeling sorry for those bits of fashion history which don't get much attention from costume makers. It's time to change that... and bring those forgotten, ignored and unloved fashions back into the limelight.
At Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, we think it's time to revive some of history's most unloved fashions. We want you to remake the things that no-one else has dared to, or that everyone else has forgotten existed. We want to see the weird and wonderful, and the downright hilarious. We're looking for extreme silhouettes, and examples where fashion dictated a complete morphing of normal human body shapes. We're seeking the garish, the oversized, and the out of proportion. We're looking for people who can bring back those fashions which time has sought to hide in the back of the closet.
And to give you some initial inspiration, we've got a Pinterest board here...
If our main theme is just not your thing, or you are already focused on making something else that's fabulous for this year and don't want to be distracted, then this category is for you!
Pick a period dress or outfit from a museum or a personal collection, either an actual garment or a painting or photo of a garment. Recreate it exactly, or interpret it to suit your figure/coloring/aesthetic, keeping in mind period fashion sense. You should look like you stepped out of a painting or a photo from the time.
When you send in your entry, please include a link or a photo of the original portrait or artwork that you are working from so we can fully admire your awesome creation!
(Remember, any inspiration image will need to be either your own or in the public domain for us to publish it on the site - otherwise we'll only be able to link to it. Easy rule of thumb: if it appears on Wikimedia Commons, we can use it!)
We've already published some articles to help you with planning your entry:
Project Planning for Success
Tackling Ambitious Projects
Photographing Garments in the Studio
The Commons on Flickr - A great resource for photos (remember, all photos must be either public domain or your own, unless permission is obtained).
Entries will be judged in three separate skill level categories:
Winners in each category will receive:
Runners-up in each category will each receive:
You will not need to send the garments themselves to us - our members are located all over the world and we'd be as heartbroken as you would be if your clothes got lost or damaged in the mail. In any case, we're not going to judge them: YOU are!
Photograph the clothes you make; we'll use these photos and your description as your entry. Your permission to use those things on our websites is granted by entering them, but the copyright on the photos and text remains your own.
You can enter a maximum of five photos, which will need to be attached to your entry email. One of these photos can be replaced with a brief video.
Keep a 'dress diary' on your blog if you have one; we'd love to link to it. This is optional, but the great advantage is that you can include as many pictures as you like on your blog, over and above the five picture limit for your main entry, and we'll link to it. Remember to use a tag so that voters can access your complete dress diary at once without needing to sift through other journal entries!
If you're not familiar with the term, a 'dress diary' is simply a blog that you keep during the making of an outfit. It documents how you made the garment(s), what problems you came across and how you solved them, including any making-of pictures, and all your triumphs and tribulations during the project. They're great to look back on and they help us all to learn from each other's experiences.
The email will need to contain:
Your entry will be uploaded to the website, giving our members and the public the opportunity to see your work. The winners will then be decided by a vote among all the members and YWU team.
We tried scrapping the skill level categories in 2013, but re-introduced them in 2014 by popular request.