Writing historical fiction means a lot of learning. Some of it gives me a headache. But other research topics are sheer fun. For instance, I love hunting for period clothing, matched to the status of my characters.

When, in Tomboy, Jane wears a borrowed ballgown to dinner at the Verandah Grill on the Queen Mary, I had to hunt for just the sort of thing the other cabin-class passengers would accept as chic, but which wouldn’t also make her feel too uncomfortable. The gown had to remind Jane a little of the buttoned-up safety of her (also borrowed) work clothes. (In a later scene, where she goes outside her comfort zone, the gown will be more revealing.)

But for this scene, I found the 1939 Balenciaga evening gown above, perfectly elegant, but which also didn’t show much flesh, something Jane worries about.

Sometimes it’s clear this job is 10% just having fun.