Dressing up for Halloween parties is lots of fun, but after October 31st has come and gone that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. There are lots of places you can wear costumes for a day or a weekend. Take the ever-popular “wench” outfit, for example. Billowing skirts, off-the-shoulder chemises and bodices ready to burst forth at any moment. What’s not to love? Here are the top 10 places you can wear that saucy maid’s outfit (and don’t forget to don the appropriate flirtatious attitude as well.)
The beauty of a Renaissance faire is that both the actors and the public can dress up, put on a saucy accent and partake of the romantic atmosphere. Wench costumes are everywhere here, in the pubs, workshops and on the stage. You’ll fit right in. There are hundreds of Renaissance festivals in the United States. Usually outdoor affairs, they normally run during the summer months.
Kind of like the little brother of the Renaissance faire, pirate festivals have seen a surge in popularity that coincides with the rise of Capt. Jack Sparrow and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. A wench costume is almost mandatory to fully participate in the skullduggery at a pirate fest. You can find them in coastal communities from Maine to California all year round.
Take a step further back in time to the 11th century. This is dinner theater at its finest. Medieval Times puts on a one-of-a-kind show featuring live jousting, sword fighting and a bountiful four-course feast. There are kings and princesses, knights and knaves at the nine unique castles in the US and Canada.
This country harvest festival is the largest celebration of organic farming in the United States. People come from all over the world to spend three glorious September days in Unity, Maine. Costumes aren’t mandatory, but the ones that show up are all over the map, and no style is too outrageous. Wench-like peasant blouses and ruffled skirts are a popular choice. But remember, this is Maine in September and the weather can get wet and chilly. So, often you’ll find those woollen leggings and hiking boots along with the lacy skirts.
Traditional highland games are popular festivals where participants celebrate all things Scottish. Gentlemen don kilts and hose and the ladies wear long skirts and laced up bodices (hmm, sounds familiar). In addition to learning about Celtic culture and history, you can also listen to pipe and drum corps, toss a caber (kind of like a big telephone pole,) dance and play games. While many Highland games around the world are small, some in the US attract 20,000 to 50,000 people. That’s a lot of kilts!
You might have to make a few alterations to your basic wench outfit to make it truly “steampunk.” This is a literary genre that’s vaguely Victorian combined with steam-powered technology. Gears and goggles and leather straps and buckles symbolize the style. Try hitching up your skirts, add a leather belt around your corset and don some lace-up granny boots and you’ll be all set. Steampunk events can be evening fashion shows, elegant balls with drinks and dancing or an afternoon picnic in the park.
German neighborhoods all around the world celebrate Oktoberfest with beer and brats and lively music played long into the night. While the St. Pauli Girl just may be the quintessential beer wench, you’ll fit right in with just a bodice, blouse and flouncy skirt.
Meet your favorite author, play games and shop for things you’ll never find at the mall. Fantasy and science fiction conventions (called “cons” by those in the know) come in all flavors. There are horror cons and Star Trek cons and comic book super hero cons. And costumes are a major part of the fun. Some of the largest fantasy cons include DragonCon and the World Fantasy Convention that moves from city to city over the years. But smaller conventions exist in just about every major city.
We can’t talk about costumed gatherings without including Burning Man. For one week every year, Black Rock Desert in California turns into a temporary city and celebrates all things “out there.” 50,000 people come together for a weeklong 24 hour a day costume party and art show.
The next time you have the urge to go swimming in an ice-cold lake in January, why not do it in costume? Polar Bear dips are sponsored all over the country and raise money for various charities. People get together in teams and take the plunge to raise money for groups like the Special Olympics. Very often team members will raise more money if they do it in costume. It seems friends and co-workers will pay to see you freeze your tuckus off, but they’ll pay more to see you do it in a costume.
About the author: Julie Anne Eason writes about costumes and sewing for a variety of websites. You can learn more about the best Brother sewing machines and recommended dress form brands on her website SeriousSewing.com