An easy Halloween costume, for fun or politics: The Duchess

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough, 1787

Want an easy way to dress as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire?

There are many costumes you can buy that are “Marie Antoinette” of France. Since Marie Antoinette and “The Duchess”, Georgiana Spencer, were contemporaries and friends, an Antoinette costume should convey the same overall impression.  And, with the movie “The Duchess” playing now, people might even get who you mean to be. (Or, you can always go home-spun and find some dress in your closet that looks poofy and old-fashioned with a little scoop to the neckline.)

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The Duchess DVD is available

The Duchess DVD is available

Some differences you might notice, or adjust your costume for:

-Marie Antoinette was from France, Georgiana was from England. (You could even hold an English Flag.)

-Marie Antoinette is usually portrayed with white, powdered hair, Georgiana is usually portrayed with goldish or reddish hair.

-Georgiana was famous for wearing extremely tall up-do’s, with peacock feathers in them for even more height. (See the Sir Joshua Reynolds painting at read more)

-Or, alternately, you could wear an oversized picture hat to mimick the Thomas Gainsborough, painting, above left.

Other ideas to refine your Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire costume:

-Wear a locket with a photo of the person you believe she loved the most: Her mother? Her husband? Charles Grey? Bess? Little Georgiana?

English Costume from the 17th - 19th Centuries

English Costume from the 17th – 19th Centuries

-Wear a charm bracelet, or some other memento that pictures Georgiana’s four children: Three with her husband, those being Georgiana Cavendish, Harriet Cavendish, and William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (called, Hart); and, her one child with Charles Grey, her daughter Eliza Courtney.

-Wear a frilly dress with military aspects. Or, wear a duchess dress in the colors of blue and buff (the Whig Party colors that Georgiana adopted.)

-Incorporate a symbol of her descendent – Princess Diana.

How to Make Classic Costumes from Cast-Off Clothings by Barb Rogers

Instant Period Costumes: How to Make Classic Costumes from Cast-Off Clothings by Barb Rogers

-Go with a friend who is willing to dress as Lady Elizabeth “Bess” Foster (Though, that could seem a little bit creepy considering the twisted relationship the two women had. Though, who are we to judge what love is? The biography by Amanda Foreman notes that, “She [Bess] died in Rome on March 30, 1824, eighteen years to the day after Georgiana’s death. A locket carrying one of her friend’s reddish-gold curls, and also a hair bracelet of Georgiana’s were next to her bed.” Among those who died at Bess’s side were Georgiana’s son, Hart, and Georgiana’s daughter, Eliza Courtney. In fact, according to Foreman, all of the 8 children of Georgiana and Bess remained on good terms with each other after Bess’s death.)

[If any wilderside readers dress as Georgiana, send me a photo and I will do my best to post it at the blog! E-mail to kimberlywilder06 at yahoo dot com]

See the other reasons why I think Georgiana is such an important figure at my previous post: here.

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