Mrs Parks’ Rout: Your hostesses!

Mrs. Parks’ Rout has been a labor of love for three very merry friends. For 2016, two ladies serve as principle hosts while the third of the merry bunch is assisting where needed!

The Hostesses:

mrsparksMrs. Parks:  Mrs. Parks is the historical pseudonym of Brooke Aiello, a Fresno-based actor and professional costumer who also teaches theater arts at Fresno Pacific University. As an actress she’s appeared on various regional stages and as a costumer she’s designed productions for FPU and has worked professionally in film and television. She lives in the Tower District with her husband, Jay Parks, and their two kitties, Beatrice and Imogen.


lady strongLady Strong: Lady Strong is the historical pseudonym for Rebecca Strong, a school district psychologist in Lemoore. Rebecca has participated in historical interpretation at Renaissance Festivals and various other events since she was 16 years old and has been active in church and community choirs. She has two gorgeous children and four cats.




mrsbennettAssisting the hostesses this year is Mrs. Bennett. Mrs. Bennett is the historical pseudonym for Heather Parish, a Fresno-based theater director, events producer, and arts publicist. She’s the founding director of The New Ensemble and the Executive Director of the Rogue Performance Festival, Fresno’s nationally-recognized fringe festival. She lives in the Tower District with her husband, Jaguar Bennett.


Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Encouraging the Evening’s Historical Conceit

regencey dancers

Dearest Reader,

As we all gather our best feathers and prettiest accessories for the evening, I feel compelled just to mention a few things about the evening’s conceit. We are hoping to evoke the spirit of a bygone age but not necessarily every historical detail. We hope you have an evening which contains moments of time-travelling magic. Here are some ideas to spark your historical imagination:


click to see larger version

Flirt with your fan, be outraged by Beau Brummel’s last scandal, ask someone to dance and feel the thrill of that shared endeavour.

Beau Brummell
We hope that for a moment the dry heat of our California summer melts into the temperate climate of Hertfordshire over 200 years ago. There are some ways though we hope out little dance is NOT like the Regency era:

  • We’ll have central air conditioning for instance and we’ll have indoor plumbing and electricity.
  • We’ll allow, nay even encourage, women to arrive unescorted and to ask someone to “stand up” with them.
  • We will also promise not to look askance at a lady who walks across the room unescorted and we even hope you’ll laugh out loud, showing ALL your teeth.

Please feel free to gender self- identify and dance with whomever your heart desires regardless of whether they wear gown or pantaloons. If a couple of the same sex does dance together there are sashes provided to make it easier to track the movement of the dance like in this dance video.

You see a woman dancing the “man’s part” is wearing a sash so other dancers in the line know what part she is dancing in the figure. We will even be dancing this exact dance so you can study up if you are so inclined.

When I attend a costume event, I like to imagine what I would arrive in. Would my family keep a carriage ourselves, or have to borrow one?



What sort of beauty regime might I have gone through? What would be my goal for the evening (usually my goal is to dance every dance)?


I voraciously devour images of ballrooms and carriages and stories so I can use my imagination to fill in the details.


It never fails to greatly contribute to my good time and I encourage you to follow some of the links included so you can do the same.


At any rate, whether you’re an old-hand at attending historical events or looking for a new adventure, we encourage you to think of the evening’s conceit as a chance to dip an imaginative toe into another time period, to think of what life 200 years ago might have been like for you, and to enjoy an evening of community fun.

We look forward to making your acquaintance at the Rout!

Many Regards,
Mrs. Parks.

Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Everybody loves a prize!

regencey dancers


Dear Friends~

Another little  missive about our little Rout this weekend.  First, we hope you know that you have until Friday evening at 9 p.m. to purchase your voucher in advance.  All those who do will receive a dance card made my Mrs. Parks’ very own hand!

But EVERYONE who attends our little assembly can also be entered for door prizes! When you arrive, simply enter your name on the slip of paper provided at check in.  We will then gather all of the names of the attendees into a reticule and delight in prize-giving and winning. After all, everyone loves prizes!


This years prizes will include:

Gentle Reader: Set of “Quill Pens” & Journal

Seamstress: Pincushion made from Silver tea set & Handkerchief

Elegance: Set of three silver Plated Bowls

Panache: Fan & Necklace of Coral Beads

Heart’s Ease: Heart Shaped Reticule & Handkerchief

Fancy Dress: Pearl and Diamond Coronet & Opera Length Gloves


And don’t forget the delectable finger-foods and punch the Merry Co-Hostesses will be providing.  Perfect for rejuvenating your strength for dancing!


We truly hope you’ll join us for another wonderful Regency evening!



Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Last Minute Dressing Advice

regencey dancers

Gentle Reader~

I have received multiple missives from gentle persons concerned with finding something appropriate to wear.


Costumed and non-costumed alike enjoy the dancing at Mrs. Parks’ Rout!

First, let me say that any blouse and skirt or dress that makes you feel pretty and genteel is perfectly acceptable. We do recommend flat shoes (like ballet flats) for the dancing, though. The gentlemen need not trouble themselves beyond donning a pair of nice trousers, a button down shirt, and dress shoes that are easy to dance in. The addition of a tie or cravat and vest or jacket will make a man even MORE dashing. (See this post to learn more about cravats and vests for men!).

Still want to take it up a notch?

As we are nearing the evening of our event, we know that time is short in sourcing something special for the Rout. I will to try to inspire and guide you to something that can be found as nearly ready-to-wear as possible.

Option One: Your Closet

What about that sun dress that makes you feel beautiful? Or that skirt you wear to church that always secretly makes you want to twirl? Add a filmy thrift store scarf to that dress and your favorite ruffled blouse to that skirt and you are merely an imaginations breath away from Regency beauty. Look at your closet for items that might be re-imagined as “olden time”. You might surprise yourself!


Two gents, in vest and jacket, dance with Lady Strong at the 2013 Rout.

Gentlemen may be a little put off by the idea of a costume (although, if you men had any idea how “Mr. Darcy clothes” can send hearts a fluttering, you might change your mind). Go ahead and pull out that white button down shirt you wear to the office or to church, pair it with some khaki pants or darker slacks and you will be good to go. If you want to add the dash of a cravat, consider tying your regular necktie in the way illustrated below:

Take your regular everyday tie. You are focusing on the wide part here, for that reason those crazy wide ties from the 70s are kinda awesome for this.

Pop that collar up and keep it popped. Fold and loop the wide part one around and under the skinny part 1 time.

Notice all that extra skinny Part?

Tuck it in to the shirt and add a corsage pin, a lapel pin, tie tack,  a little brooch, or neat little stick pin to tuck it into place.

Now admittedly this looks a bit more Edwardian era, and I like the look of it under a vest best. HOWEVER It is a fun and easy way to “olden time” up your ensemble.

Option Two: Thrift Stores

If I was to rate the activities in my life in order of most enjoyable to least I would put thrift store shopping as a solid 3 or 4. But that would be a Fib as it regularly ties for 1st. Truth.

Gentlemen first on this one, because it is really similar to the closet option:

  • White button down dress shirt…Collar Popped
  • Standard necktie tied as per instructions above
  • Possible addition of vest (check the ladies vest section, too, as sometimes they get put there)
  • Shoes of any variety EXCEPT athletic or sandal.

BOOM! All done and not too out of your comfort zone, I should think.

Ladies, for you I have more information. All images below are from one thrift store, and one trip to said thrift store. This is my favorite thrift store, actually. It is a little rough around the edges but the deals can’t be beat. I love this place and it is with great hesitation that I share this gem of a location. But the better angels of my nature have prevailed. Thrift Center.

There are chances of finding a gown perfect with no alteration needed. I found a couple pf early 90s items that would do the trick nicely. Both in white, that classic Regency colour, and both a LITTLE on the short side, but some regency women rocked a shorter skirt. They make it easy for dancing.

Here are the two I found in my thrifting search:

Let’s assume you can’t find something this close to perfect. You are still good, my dears! Let us now look at ways you can put multiple pieces together to form a look.

Another way to mix and match elements is to capitalize on the jumper type thing that the Regency had going on…and then ROCK IT, like Romola Garai’s Emma:

Two jumpers in one shot!

Two jumpers in one shot!


Here is a Regency Fashion Plate Inspiration:

Option three: Buy something online

This option requires more money but less work than the other options.

Your best bet is to Google “Regency gown” and see if any of the options look good to you on shopping sites like Ebay or Etsy.

I have never ordered anything from any of the links below, so no endorsement is intended, but couldn’t hurt to give it a go.

On Ebay:

$77 for sizes Xl-XXL Available in multiple colours.

$77 for sizes Xl-XXL Available in multiple colours.




Fom Etsy:


This one is only $88 and ships today!


Of course Etsy also has beautiful handmade gowns that are made at the height of Historical Accuracy. They are priced accordingly and I am not sure you could get them by August 2nd.

etsy silk

This Number is made of silk and ready to ship if it fits your measurement. This gown is a little pricier at $305

This seller has couple other items ready to ship as well

Lady Kathryn’s Closet on Etsy:

And this very special gown ships from Bakersfield and so may be able to be expedited in time for the Rout (if you fit the gown, that is!). It would make a great gift for a young lady. Lady Kathryn is an especial friend of ours and she has been the belle of the ball in this gown a few times in her girlhood!

Made of silk, lined in cotton. $225.

I hope this helps those of you who are fretting what to wear. The Merry Hostesses hope to see you at the Rout!

Mrs. Parks’ Rout: How Mrs. Parks hand-makes the Dance Cards!

regencey dancers

Gentle Reader,

I Love working with the Lady Strong and the Merry Miss Parish to pull together our Regency themed rout. One of the aspects I enjoy the most is the crafty elements I get to add to help the “Olden Timey” feeling come alive. With this in mind, all guests who purchase their vouchers (tickets) ahead of time will receive a Dance Card. Dance cards did not come into wide use until later in the 19th century starting in Vienna and then making their way towards England and the USA Eventually they fell out of favor early in the 20th century. A dance card was usually issued only to the lady – the gentleman was supposed to be so honoured to have been granted a dance he could never forget or get confused. We’ll issue them to both parties and encourage ladies to ask gentlemen to dance if they see one that takes their fancy. You can find more information on dance cards HERE

Along with the dance card a little pencil was tied to it so the lady could jot down her partners name. Dance cards were almost always of some sort of fine paperstock, and therefore are reproducible with a printer, Microsoft publisher, and a little patience. Those little ball pencils though are a real trial.

One of the pioneers in dance card pencils was a German company named Staedtler. It says on their website they were the first to create a pencil lead fine enough…Huh. They no longer make them (according to their US representative no one manufactures them anymore) so I went in search of them elsewhere. Seriously, I can’t believe how nearly IMPOSSIBLE these things were to find. Finally, I found a single website that offers them in a single colour: Silver. Also they are around $0.61 EACH…Which felt like a lot of money for a pencil with a ribbon. Especially as I have tons of crafting supplies and golf pencils at my disposal.

“I Shall Craft These!” I thought. And I did. Here is how I did it.

First I gathered My Supplies

Screenshot 2014-07-21 at 2.58.31 PM - Edited

Here you shall see narrow ribbon, golf pencils, and jewelry findings all from stash

The Pencil

I had Golf Pencils left over from last years Rout. They were $8 for over a hundred of them at Smart and Final. They were that awful No.2 pencil colour so I ganked some spray paint from my friend Michael @ Chase Flower Shop. I decided that I’d just spray ‘em. This was the most difficult part of the process because they would stick together and then I’d flip them before the paint would dry, because I am impatient, it was a whole thing.

Here you can see how they stuck together and were kinda a pain to paint.

Here you can see how they stuck together and were kinda a pain to paint.

I was thinking after all the trial in painting them that it would have been easier to just buy them in a better colour. However finding them in a better colour also proved harder than it seemed like it should, and when I did find them they were like double the price. So maybe all the pain in painting them wasn’t a waste after all!

The Caps and Ribbon

 I had this narrow mint green ribbon in my stash, It had been gifted to me. And these little golden “pearl cap” jewelry findings were bought YEARS ago in LA for cheap!!

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Knotted the ribbon through the filigree holes and them hot glued the pencils into the caps.

Screenshot 2014-07-21 at 3.03.09 PM

When the glue was mostly dry I squished the cap closed around the pencil.

Ta Da!

The First 20 People to purchase a voucher for the rout on the second of August will receive one of these fancy homemade dance card pencils AND a commemorative dance card. So won’t you please accept our invitation? We hope to see you on the 2nd for Mrs. Parks’ Regency Rout!

A dance card from last year's Rout!

A dance card from last year’s Rout!

Mrs. Parks’ Rout: The 2014 Dance Programme for the Evening is Here!

regencey dancers

So, you’ve gone through some of our posts and have an idea about what English Country Dancing is and how you can prepare your ensemble.  But now you’re wondering what you can expect on the night?

Well, here’s some exciting news. We’ve just confirmed the programme of dances with our Dance Master, Evo Bluestein. Below you’ll find the list of the two sets we’ll be dancing and links to video samples of each dance! Hurrah!

Set 1

Auretti’s Dutch Skipper

The Wood Duck

Rufty Tufty

Duke of Kent’s Waltz

Set 2

Zephyrs and Flora  (Sorry! Embedding was disabled on this one!)

Draper’s Gardens (waltz time)

Jenny’s Market

Sir Roger DeCoverley


We hope that you’ll join us on August 2nd for Mrs. Parks’ Regency Rout!