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Hit Counter kindred spirits have entered this 

Rabbit Hole before you.

Costumers Everywhere...

 Share The Madness!

Claire's Personal Section Website

Contents of this page:


2011 up-date greeting

2007 Greetings to Fellow Costumers

About My Photograph Collection

What's' Your Theory?

Wig Design

My List of Costuming Tips

Special Effects for Costumers

History - Read about the Real Mad Hatter 

My Activities in  Period Clothing

Hat Rescue, Buy, Sell, Trade.... Coming soon

My Personal Page on San Diego's Costume Guild




Be yourself… most, will love your individuality.

Some won’t know how to react,  

Help them... have patience 

Be someone your not and you will have abandoned yourself.

Be there for yourself.

Kindred Spirits Unite!

2011 Costumers Greetings,

OMG it's been four years since I made any major entries to  the rabbit hole due to medical issues.  Hello to you all and especially to all the newbbies. My 2007 greeting is still fun reading for those new to the guild and want to get to know me. I am also on facebook these days become a fan of Photos Made Perfect!

I have been struggling with a condition called "Frozen Shoulder Syndrome" for the past three years and could only sit at my computer long enough to take care of priority issues to do with my business, Photos Made Perfect but still managed to attend a few choice events in between therapy sessions.  Only this past year since my condition started I am almost back to normal.  

This photo with the tea cup was taken with natural light from my kitchen and I gave it a special effect. This size doesn't do it justice by losing small details.  When enlarged you can see beams of light streaming from the lights in the corners. This period was 1914, for the Berkley Tea Dance in July 2010. If you like this effect and you have a favorite costume to show off let me know. 

(2007) Greetings

Fellow Costumers,

I joined the group in April of 2007 and I have been to one meeting.  I didn't have a chance to speak with everyone.  Then I went to a tea party and didn't get to met everyone there either, so I thought since we are so many and we don't all go to the same events, it obvious it will take a long time to get to know each other if at all, so I put this page together to share my thoughts, experiences and talents as they apply to costuming.  If and when we meet, we will feel like kindred spirits.

About my photograph collection  to the right. 

It is,... every photograph I could find of myself wearing something on my head.  Back in the 1970s my friends use to call me the "Mad Hatter"....they should see me now! As I look through the photographs I remember the ones not capture in time. Like when I wore berets in 1965 because Felix, of The Young Rascals (see rascals photos) gave me his beret, and during the Beatle hat craze too. I wore sun-visors in every color. Oh, and all the Halloween costumes and Easter parades I participated in. Living in New York had something to do with my relationship with hats with the weather. I wore rain hats and in bitter cold fur and goose down hats. In the past , I have given thought to the fact that I have always worn hats but never put it together like this in any one place. You should try it and get back to me with your comments.

What's your Theory

What is the common thread between us... why do we like to be in costume? Here is my story and theory, I am curious to hear yours.


I believe, that because you are the sum of all your experiences.... you are who you are.  So when asked why do you like dressing up in period clothing I had to stop and think about it.  When I look for reasons why I like costuming the following comes to mind.  I am a native New Yorker and when you meet me you would never think I have a shy bone in my body, but believe it or not I do suffer from bashfulness and wearing a hat seems to be the cure. When I wear a hat, I think, it is saying to people that I am confident, friendly and approachable.  Most of the time strangers will break the ice first, then I will talk until the cows come home. Not all memories of wearing a hat were pleasant, but useful all the same.  When  an individual expressed their negative opinions about my hat, I appreciated my hat for aiding in identifying that person up front and promptly giving them some New York hospitality. One person who comes to mind, was a friend of mine that said she hated my hat, I don't even remember which hat it was ...but I remember her telling me how much she hated it...hoping I would never wear it again.  New York is so very fashion conscience that when I wore hats I felt connected to the city even though I was from Long Island.  When I would travel out of the city comments like "Oh you are sooooo...New York" or "you have too much style for this town" .  That was a plus for me in my mind at the time, I was wearing a huge round, raccoon hat with a matching collar on my coat. 

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Many folks have absolutely no problem coming up to  me to ask "why you wearing that hat?"  I think some people wish they had the courage to wear it!  Those are the very ones that can't fight the impulse to snatch the hat off my head and put it on themselves! while he avoids attention I don't mind it because it make my world friendlier.

The fun was in the details! My lamp was a flash light with flimsy plastic waving around like a flame.  My face and hands  were green, I  sprayed a pair of slippers green and a green sprayed book.

My father always told me to march to my own drum and wearing hats when no one else did, was my way to be different and now with my business it's the whole magila not just the hat anymore. Well, I guess it started with my parents. If you get use to wearing a hat and being looked at for it

I don't know if this ritual is still done today but when I was  growing up in New York, it was the custom to get decked out on Easter and parade around the neighborhood all day long.  At my Holy Communion, wearing this veil my mother made me, made me feel special.  

(Three girls) This was taken on Easter Sunday in the Bronx, with my sisters. 

 Then, my father may have been a beatnik.  Maybe his goatee is a give away? I saw him wear anything from a berets, panama hats and fedoras. He was a Merchant Marine and also wore military hats.  As he traveled around the world and brought home hats to share with the family and I took to the Vietnamese style, #6 down, in my collection.

left corner photo: He just came back from Egypt and in the right here he's posing as a matador.

I think there may be an emotional attachment to  playing dress up... something in my childhood.  Ya think... may be  you have issues too? just kidding!

  I have fond memories of Halloween in New York, it was my most favorite Holiday.  I wore a "Felix the Cat "  suit complete with his magical bag of tricks, when I was five.  After just ONE building you had to go home and get another pillow case to fill!  

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This subtle urge to play dress up was dormant for years.  It wasn't until I started my business and needed a way to stand out, that it came out. You could visit my guest speaking page to see me in costume teaching genealogy societies how to tell the age of old photographs.

I always thought I had a bit of a theatrical bug in me too.  The whole time I was growing up, my father was always taking pictures of us and we were not allowed to just stand there, we had to  strike a pose, was fun. This is my sister and I posing.  

The first San Diego Costume Guild. meeting I went to felt like a seven-step, self-help program. (Just Kidding) It was my first time meeting other folks just like me!  It helps to  know that I am not alone in my madness  and I like you don't want to get over it. So what ever your reason for costuming or period dressing , I want to tell you all ,that I am glad to meet you and I would like to hear your story, whether you are like me or not alike at all .  We do have the joy of playing dress up without being judged and completely comfortable in each others presents. 

Claire, aka the Mad Hatter.

(History - Read about the  Original Mad Hatter) 

Wig Design

I know a big part of making your own costume is what makes it fun.  The thrill of the hunt for the specific item to complete your look, right?  But you can't do everything or have the time for it.  So for those who don't want to make it, for what ever reason you need to find alternatives and solutions. Here are some of mine. 

I bought a wig that was plain and styled it into a "Gibson Girl" hairdo of the Edwardian period.  Now I don't have to take  AS MUCH time to fix my hair.  



Styled front

Styled Back

1912 Gibson Girl

To get a more realistic look, pull some strands of your own hair out and comb  back over the wig.  It doesn't matter that it doesn't match in color as long as it's close.  



Read more about the Gibson Girls creator, Charles Dana Gibson


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If you have any questions or would like me to create one for you, give me a call. 619-397-7600.  They would be all, one of a kind! 

1861, Scarlet

You may want to grow your hair long enough to make a pony tail so you can attach hairpieces to them like these locks.  Imagine having to curl you hair like this....whewww, no way! Who has that much hair anyway, they didn't either.  Victorians were big on hair pieces, for sure.


My next wig project will be creating a short wig with finger waves for the 1920s.

My List of Costuming Tips

Consider carefully the order in which you  put things on.  You might think that putting on make up first is good, so you don't mess up your clothes but only if you wear lip guard before putting on your clothes.  Dressing sometimes can work up perspiration and then you makeup melts!  So dress up and wear a bib for the makeup session.  Last items that should go on is your jewelry and perfume because your jewelry catches on everything and perfume ruins jewelry, so don't put in on where jewelry touches. 

Carry a calling card to give to merchants, should they come across what you are looking for, they want the business.

The Del Mar Antique Fair and The Johnson House in Old Towne San Diego  are just two places I frequent for specialty gifts and staples.

I did not feel the need to be authentic. My first criteria was to create a period dress that if damaged, it would be no big deal, establishing a spending limit early on in the process.  

Since my costumes are not authentic, I make them up by frequenting second-hand stores and a little bit of sewing to make things fit.

Once you know you like dressing, you could buy one authentic piece and build the rest of the costume around it, with less pricey replicas.  

Most of the time you just get what you can when it comes to colors, but if you have a choice try to stick to the colors you already have because many of the fashion items are interchangeable with other period dressing. Like gloves, shawls , hats or flowers and trims.  

Watching period movies and collecting old photographs is one way I am inspired and confirm my costuming efforts. Right here on my business website you can go look at Victorian photographs in the Genealogy section, to see, click here, and navigate to albums but come back! I was told that movies are unreliable source for period accurate clothing. Costume designers deliberately create costumes that for the most part accurate enough for the era with subtle changes that would appeal to the younger generation or general public.  They feel that period correct doesn't have the same flair or appeal.  

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Special Effects for Costumers

Every time I have my photograph taken, I think of what's in the background that won't date me.  I usually run outdoors onto a lawn or a plain wall and take away any object that doesn't belong to the era I am dressed in.  

Now you know this service is available, when you pose for your next shot it doesn't matter where you are, sitting or standing.  The only thing to avoid is having any person or object in front of any part of you, that wood require more work to omit.  In my sample in "Special Effects" I knew that I wanted to stand near a fire place with my mother and deliberately stood at my fireplace to produce the effect I wanted.  If you have a family photo you would like to be in (in costume) let me have a look so I can advise you how to pose for it.  You may want a costume photo with an appropriate background and want it to  be black and white.  









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This photograph really didn't need a background change because the wicker chairs, window and plants are okay for 1940s but it's in color and too clear and needed a border more inline with the period photography styles and trends.  I could add and old border too like the special effect on the right.  
This is the original photo  of my mother. 

Start a scrapbook of your period correct  costuming with period correct backgrounds

This photograph is of the 1940s - 50s . 




Back to topI know you have photographs of yourself in costume...if you want to change the background give me a call. 


  • Edwardian photo space, soon to come, could be yours!
This period dress with bustle needed the proper background.  Ladies of the 1800s would have had their photograph taken in a studio, so it was placed on a carte de visite of the late 1880s. 
Hat Rescue, Buy, Trade.

1960 felt perfect condition.


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