Traditional middle class

In 1987, because of the upcoming celebration of 500 years Ste. Barbelen guild, we decided the time had come for some new costumes, preferably something festive dating from the 19th century. Our "normal costume" dated from 1958 and had not changed over the last 30 years, apart from a few small variations.
Moreover, this current costume was based on a study by a few members but made many allowances in order to keep it affordable and danceable for everyone. Values and principles changed, so we searched for something nicer and more authentic.

We started of with just an old dress coat of one of our dancers and a pattern of a belle époque ball gown. Luckily we had good connections with the Royal Museums for Art and History in Brussels. This gave us the opportunity to get access to the reserved sections, as the costumes and textiles collections were kept under lock and key for many years. 

We sampled, wrote and made drawings and decided that the men would have a mid-size black tailcoat, a pair of dark striped trousers with a mid-size grey top hat. To brighten up the costume, the shirt was complemented with a large bowtie and a shiny waistcoat with lots of gold embroidery. The dandy outfit was completed with the following accessories, a set of shiny cufflinks, a striking pocket watch (on a chain) or an "antique" walking stick.

From then on the ladies would show themselves in a broad crinoline (approx. 4 metres in diameter) in (imitation) brocade, velvet and silk and a body tight small jacket with long adjoining sleeves in the same fabric. This all was finished with the necessary decorations and charming little hat with ribbons. As accessories they have a matching little bag, delicate gloves or a frivolous parasol and of course a hoop petticoat and a pair of long-legged underpants.

So when we have to perform the stylish contra dances or attend formal parties we look as if we come out of a little box from 1850!