Clothes For The Costume Ball
( Originally Published 1924 )
A costume ball can be educational as well as diverting. Every year a certain Art School has a magnificent costume ball upon which a great deal of time is spent, not only in making decorations and creating costumes, but in research work. An Egyptian Ball was once given ; the decorations were huge sphinxes, and all the hangings were of Egyptian design. Imagination and ingenuity had materialized in costumes that were symbolic and beautiful. A most effective costume was that of a man slave. It consisted of a short skirt of striped material, a soft head dress, and the body painted brown. Horus, the sun god, was there too, resplendent in gold and white. His face and body were painted clown-white and a small Egyptian beard was worn. The suit and wide armlets were made of gold-painted oil-cloth which imitated the texture of metal yet was pliable and soft. Horus-at-night was in hunter's green and black. Another cleverly de-signed costume was that of the Vulture, the sacred bird of Egypt. The costume was of shining blue-green Rajah silk with a tight-fitting sleeveless bodice painted in irridescent feathers of gold, bronze, and peacock blue. The skirt was full, held in at the knees by a rubber band; below the knees the silk was painted in the same irridescent colors to represent the tail feathers of the bird. The wings, spreading six feet, were fashioned from a piece of silk twenty-seven inches wide, decorated with painted feathers, and were attached to the arms by gold bands ; the length was extended by sticks held in the hands. The head-dress was a close fitting hood coming to the shoulders, made of King's blue silk with a stiffened beak of gold. Painted feathers decorated the hood. Slippers of black satin with gold claws painted on them finished the costume. One young lady cleverly represented a Scarab.
A Colonial Ball is very picturesque, for the clothes and costumes of that period were very quaint.
A Louis XVI party calls for expensive costumes, and is very colorful.
A Children's Party, with grown-ups dressed in juvenile clothes, induces much sport and often proves the theory that men and women are but children grown tall.
A Flower Shop Festival, where every one represents flowers, is a pretty affair ; especially if groups of people combine to form nosegays, such as Delphinium and Foxgloves, Pansies and Mignonette, Marigolds and Bachelor Buttons, Orchids and Lilies-of-the-Valley, Sunflowers and Hollyhocks.
A Garden Party of an amusing type is to have the guests represent vegetables.
A Mother Goose Party gives much opportunity for sport and amateur talent.
A Myth Dance—Pluto, Neptune, Pegasus, Cy-clops, Medusa, Arachne, Aurora, Diana, Narcissus, Mars, Venus !
A Jewel Ball—a glittering festival of precious and semiprecious stones.
A Textile Ball is attended by King Cotton, Dame Linen, the Three Fates, the Cocoon, the Moth, and others.
Timid retiring souls may liberate all their pent-up complexes in one mad evening at a costume ball. The man who would be King can satisfy bis ambition. The schoolgirl can emulate her favorite film star.
One's temperament would naturally determine one's choice of costume. Carmén, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, Mary Stuart, Du Barry, the Angel Gabriel, Mephistopheles, Bonny Prince Char-lie, a Doge of Venice, a Chinese Mandarin, a Prince of India, a Malay savage, an Esquimo, Ganymede, Ceres, Janus, Proserpine, a kangaroo, a Chinese pheasant, a Sacred Ox, a fountain dripping with jeweled water, snow, hail, twilight, moonbeam, starlight, the Signs of the Zodiac, Goliath and David, Sohrab and Rustum, Héloïse and Abélard, the Last Duchess, the Princess, Evangeline,—there is endless variety.
Often the head-dresses atop simple costumes give a qualifying air. At all fancy balls, the attractiveness of the costumes is greatly enhanced by suitable backgrounds and setting. This is not necessarily elaborate in order to be effective. At a certain Fairy Party hundreds and hundreds of bubble-like balloons were used. If a definite color scheme has been decided upon, the balloons can be made to order to harmonize with the plan. Balloons, massed in the center of the ballroom ceiling, and attached to cords running to the corners of the room can be made to float rhythmically when the orchestra plays "I'm forever blowing bubbles." A merry scramble accompanies the release of the "bubbles."
Historical costume balls are very entertaining, especially if the characteristics of the people, the temper of the time and the customs of the people are considered. Many moving pictures will suggest ideas for costume balls—a Robin Hood Party, a Dickens Party, a French Revolution Party, a Tower of London Party—how many shades could come forth.
One must choose between being artistically picturesque or ludicrous. If the former, every de-tail of design and color must be worked out to glorify personal charm. If the latter, incongruity and all other qualities which inspire laughter must originally and intelligently unite in the creating of the costume.
There is an unapproachable fascination for dressing-up, for playing a part, for making-believe one is different from one's real self, a sort of inborn desire for a duo-personality, a love of getting away from the wearisome I. It is no wonder that costume balls are so popular.