Recently, the New Jersey Romance Writer’s had a special guest at our monthly meeting. Kandie Carle, known as The Victorian Lady, traveled from Connecticut to demonstrate the true manner in which ladies dressed and undressed in the 1800s. Her program was highly entertaining and her wit as an actress and performer dazzled through her two hour presentation.
As she showed layer after layer of clothing from drawers and corset to capelet and handkerchief, she explained its purpose and meaning within society. I was mesmerized with the history and authenticity of it all. Everything Ms. Carle uses is actual clothing or perfected reproduction with the same materials and available resources. Her knowledge is impressive!
I was also intrigued by the symbolism of each piece and how the layers of clothing represented so much more than cloth and thread, and how different it contrasted with our disposable wardrobe today.
And in my stream of consciousness, that thought led me to think of another…about the layers of personality we all possess and how often we show our hearts, our thoughts, our intellect to other people and why we might take the risk – that exposure – which traits, and the why and when of it all.
And how its all about vulnerability. It’s what I strive for within the characters I create. Something I admire in an individual who can put themselves out there, reveal their emotions, bare their soul. It takes daring and courage and bravery, because so many times we’ve heard words that have wounded or scarred. And so many times we’ve been told to hold back, not wear your heart on your sleeve, be cautious.
I didn’t go to the meeting anticipating these thoughts, but as I watched each layer of clothing with its specific meaning and purpose, it mirrored the attributes of my character development and spoke to me, encouraging me to take more risks and perhaps look a little more closely at the signs people offer when they think no one is looking. Sometimes clothing can communicate louder than words.
All this from a chemise and underskirt? Yes. And a promise to layer my characters with emotion and depth and maybe, take more chances along the way.
You can find out more about Kandie here: http://www.kandiecarle.com/