I’ve been reading since I was three years old. Books are my oldest companions. Some of the first non-children’s books I read were by Agatha Christie. I read of far off places and people who spoke multiple languages. I read about exquisitely-dressed women, striding down station platforms to their first class train carriage, their ladies’ maids tottering along behind them, carrying their jewel cases. I read about the Orient Express and the Blue Train and grand ocean liners and voyages that lasted longer than my parents’ one-week summer vacation.
I dreamed of a world as shiny and Deco as the Chrysler Building, picked out in white and black and chrome, captioned in a clean sans serif font. I dreamed of travel by train, where a Lady Must Wear the Proper Hat™. I dreamed of travelling to all those gorgeous foreign places forbidden in my youth in the 1980s — Bucharest, Prague, Baghdad… I dreamed of charming jewel thieves on the Riviera and murder (never anyone I knew, of course) on the Nile.
But more than anything, I dreamed of the clothes. I dreamed of being that impeccably-dressed woman with her supremely-efficient lady’s maid. I dreamed of parting a crowd by merely walking through it as passers-by stopped to stare at my wonderfully-matched suit in gorgeous cashmere melton. Most of all, I dreamed of the perfect hat and my curls always placed in the most becoming way around it.
When I got married, we couldn’t go on a honeymoon right away. But a year and a half later, Cunard had a special, so Bob and I took the Queen Elizabeth II to Southampton and stayed a couple of days in London. We dressed as best as we could. I wore evening gowns to dinner every night. I admit that they were all left-over bridesmaids’ dresses sold at a discount by our local bridal shop because the weddings had been cancelled. But they were evening gowns and I was on a Cunard ship on my honeymoon! Who cared that we didn’t even have a porthole. There is something so inspiring about those stacks of red with their black tops. But I was sure, back in 2003, that we were experiencing the last days of Transatlantic Crossings. I knew Queen Elizabeth II wouldn’t sail much longer.
And then they built Queen Mary II. And Queen Victoria. And now there’s a new Queen Elizabeth sailing the seas. The Golden Age of Ocean Travel lives again.
When you near your 40th birthday, there is a natural tendency to look back upon your life and think about how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. There is also a desire to do what you haven’t done yet — to mark this milestone in a grand way, to celebrate middle age lest we dread it.
On my 40th birthday, I desperately wanted to take a Transatlantic Crossing on the QM2, take the Orient Express following the route in the book by Agatha Christie, and return home on the QM2, all while dressed in a fabulously period wardrobe.
I started saving for this trip when I turned 35. Unfortunately financial circumstances deemed that there were more pressing uses for the money, and I got lunch and a private tour of Eastern Pennsylvania for my 40th birthday.
Well, this year is my 45th Birthday. And I am determined to achieve what I did not five years ago.
Look. I’m a clothing historian. I make period patterns for a living. My favourite time period has always been the early 1930s. With the success of Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire, I have learned a great deal about the clothing of the 1910s and 1920s.
I produce patterns and clothing for this time period. I have the skill to make everything I want. I have the knowledge to know what to make for a complete traveling wardrobe for the Golden Age of Ocean Travel. I can do this.
Today is the 13th of February. It is precisely eight months until my 45th birthday. That’s 33 weeks until I have to board the ship. And isn’t 33 a lovely number?
If I have to sleep in the bilges to make this happen, I will do it!
Tomorrow we’ll delve into some books I have from the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s that tell you what a lady should have in her traveling wardrobe. Then we’ll get down to brass tacks and figure out how many outfits I need to make to take this journey.
Then we’ll start building my wardrobe. Stay tuned to the blog as I build every piece of my wardrobe from underwear and nightwear to lounging ensembles and sportswear to dresses for afternoon tea, evening gowns, beautiful traveling suits, and dresses suited to the tango!
And hats! Oh my yes HATS!
But it’s probably best to start from the inside out. And that means SKIVVIES!!!
(Isn’t it wonderful that Cunard doesn’t have any luggage restrictions? Yes, I could literally take steamer trunks full of period clothing. And they even carry them to your cabin for you!)
So here is the itinerary:
- Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary II — 2-8 October, 2012
- Rail Journey from London to Venice on the Orient Express — 11-12 October, 2012
- Westbound Transatlantic Crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary II — 14-21 October, 2012
Now go post this on every blog, website, forum, social media site, and billboard you can. The more patterns I sell, the more likely I am to be able to do this. And I’ll have you all to thank!
© 2012 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material.