Finally, the post on how to turn a modern suit into a Regency costume......but first:
The play we needed the costumes for is called Arcadia written by Tom Stoppard. It's set in 2 time frames, 1809 and 1812 and present day. When staging a play "present day" means now, not when the play was written. Arcadia was written in 1993, we chose to set it in 2014. The scenes switch between past and present, using the same set, an English manor house's dinning room. There is 2 casts, one past, one present. The scene break down looks like this:
Act I scene 1: April 10, 1809
scene 2: present day April 10, 2014
scene 3: April 11. 1809
scene 4: present day, April 11, 2014
Act II scene 5: present day, April 12, 2014
scene 6: April 12, 1809
scene 7: present day, about a week later
scene 8: early June, 1812
There's a really good Wikipedia article about the play, if you're interested. On to the costumes.........
We had about 3 weeks to get the costumes done for this one, which is way we had to take a short cut on the men's costumes. I've only tailored one men's suit and that took 3 weeks. We needed 6 Regency costumes. SO..................................................
We went to a shop downtown called Looking Good, and bought some styling Stacy Addams suits, which have a wonderfully long jacket.
On the male form you can see the marking lines where the fabric is going to be cut off.
Here's a back view. The brown jacket on the left has already been cut up.
Here's Nick, who played Ezra Chater, wearing the finished costume. To get this look, you mark the cutting lines, sew up the cut edges, take the collar off and sew it back on upside down, turn back the fronts and sew the buttons on. The pants were also cut into knickers. To make the tails on the coat longer, use the cut off fabric. Because it's theatre, the seaming doesn't show.
On stage, Matt, who played Septimus Hodge, is wearing the finished costume from the first photo. Also note that Matt's jacket is cut in a different shape than Nick's.
Septimus in a different costume, with Ethan in the background as Capt. Brice. Lady Croom, played by Jenah is wearing one of the 3 dresses we made for her. You can't fake that time period's woman's costumes.......or can you?
Past meets present. Thomasina, played by Jenna, wearing a 1960's vintage prom dress altered to mimic a Regency dress. Tess, playing Hannah Jarvis, is in the present day.
I had to wait for photos to be posted and wish I had some better shots. I hope you can see what was done to the suits.
The first 3 photos are mine. The production photos were taken by Travis Hunnewell and Michael J. Morgan.