Please enjoy: Projects we have built & are working on. There are 6 years of research here. Our Etsy shop is alive and well: SilhouettesCostumes Etsy shop although the “for profit” business was permanently closed and taking no orders effective 2022. We are focusing on building new ensembles for our educational …
Suzi Sellers, Proprietess, is the driving force behind the business. In charge of research, design, & construction, she works with a number of independent subcontractors to provide an entire ensemble including undergarments, main dress, outer wear, and accessories. Shelly Jackson, Milliner, provides historically accurate and superbly constructed headwear including period …
Suzi Sellers, Proprietess
Suzi has been sewing since she was 8 years old when she sneaked her grandmother’s 1940 Singer sewing machine to design and make Barbie clothes. By age 10, she was making all her own clothing which incorporated embroidery, handmade lace, and special embellishments.
Performing at an elite level in high school and community theatre, Suzi designed and built costumes and sets for many performers. As a Miss America pageant regional winner, she perfected stage, lighting, and costume techniques for “Leading Lady” local performances.
Suzi earned a degree in Theatre Design/Technology, “Costume Emphasis” from the University of Illinois (UIUC), where she was honored to be selected by Japanese Masters to build key costumes for Kabuki, plus German designers sewing the leading characters. At this time she also learned how many hours it takes to sew the ruffles on an 1893 “9 Yard Petticoat”.
Determining costume design did not appear to be a lucrative profession, Suzi jumped to her other college degrees of Landscape Architecture and Coaching for the next 30 years for income. She kept her sewing and design skills strong by forcing her children to wear crazy costumes and leading “Odyssey of the Mind” and Cub Scouts in acting, writing, and designing projects. She designed hundreds of shirts graphics for organizations through the years, as well as bridal & formal wear.
A summer job working with anthropologists as a docent at an 1885 living history farm in the Chicago area in 2001 opened Suzi’s eyes to the world of historical theatrical costume interpretation. There she learned how to research and apply the theatrical techniques she knew, to historic pattern making, materials, and methods. Living in full Victorian garb in 100 degree Illinois humidity, and finding it to be more comfortable than anything she’d ever worn, became a turning point, and the beginning of an idea to share the EXPERIENCE of historical costuming with others.
It was after a medical set back due to a tick bite in 2004 where she contracted chronic/persistent Lyme disease, plus a move to beautiful northwestern Wyoming with her husband’s retirement, that brought Suzi to Silhouettes.
Working several years at the Cody Chamber Visitor Center, she helped French and English speaking tourists, as well as associates with the many re-enactors and performers of the area. These connections with “The Cody Gunfighters” and museum curators as well as historical organizations led to development of the Buffalo Gals historic interpreters performance group, as well as good local customers who value historical accuracy.
Embarrassed one day that she had “only modern things to wear” when a coworker at the Visitor Center came to work during the classy Cody “Buffalo Bill Art show” in gorgeous 1900’s cowboy ensemble, and also impressed with a friend’s fur and leather work displayed in that show, Suzi started thinking “I could do that”. The real “aha” moment came though, when a storyteller friend needed someone to sew an authentic costume. That one complete and accurate ensemble “from the bum up” led to the inspiration for many others to follow, some of which are shown on this website.
Suzi has had many concurrent careers including professional photography, graphic & web design, printing, landscape design/build, and coaching/teaching. She particularly enjoys the photographic staging of her costume projects, but all of her skills benefit the Silhouettes process in some way. Period sketches on print and web are her original drawings, and she does all her own web design, formatting, writing, and blogging.
In 2020, when COVID basically shut down the business due to closures of historic sites and events across the US, Suzi made the hard decision to close the “for profit” end of the business to focus on The Gals and the joy of sewing as community service. She works as a postal carrier to finance the operation, while taking on a few select customers and special projects, and continues to follow her passion and improve expertise as well as to expand the years into the 1920’s. She also now builds costume ensembles for women AND men educational performers plus children which are always designed, built, and fitted using period correct materials and methods so they are “historically authentic from the bum up”.
Designer & contractor for the lovely Silhouettes Shoppe located next to the beautiful babbling Bennett Creek in historic Clark, Wyoming, Suzi has built not only a workshop, but a “vacation destination”. She has gathered all her experiences into one basket, to the benefit of those wanting a full historic experience working with a personal tailor.
The “Buffalo Gals” have extensively researched and authentically designed & built ensembles to meet the needs of clients needing historic interpreters. Enjoy their journey in costume and character development, and the events that follow on their individual web pages: Alex Hurst 1860 Orphan to “Mama’s Girl” Click here to …
Gee whiz! I don’t know where to begin! The corset is LOVELY. The mail came while I was in the middle of a phone call and I had to hang up because when I opened it up I started to cry. As I’m writing this, I’ve been wearing it for about six hours. It is excessively comfortable! And beautiful, too! I was stunned by how it looked, reminded of those wedding ensembles you see in museums! I’m speechless! My grandmother was surprised too, and unpacked a leather bodied kestner doll that had belonged to HER grandmother to compare my “shape” to. It was wonderful! My family is already sick of me standing leaning forward and straightening my back up like the fashion plates and going “looks bad, right?” And then standing normally to demonstrate that Edwardian corsets are, in fact, NOT the devil’s tool to ruin women’s backs. — RR (still wearing it we think!)
What an amazing part you played in my amazing wedding experience. A million thanks for being so super on top of your trade – willing to take on such a challenge and for all of your attention to detail and time. You are a Master – no a Grand Master! You will forever be a part of my story and wedding memories. —- Rebecca Roseman (wait! I’m Armstrong now)
“I can’t wait to show it (the show) to the rest of my team when we get back from break. We’re going to do it in the media center, so we can show off all of the kids at the same time. Thank you ma’am! I appreciate you my wonderfully talented costume maker/seamstress!” — Dr. Anderson
“I really even hate to call it a costume because Suzi’s work is the real deal. This is clothing that will last you for a lifetime, not some Halloween costume. Her work is impeccable and she really works with you to get things right and understand what it is you are wanting. Thank you Suzi, your work is so beautiful! You do soooo much with your research and sharing that is priceless. I for one, appreciate what you do. ”
“We tipped a cup of tea for freedom to you today. It was attended by famous suffragettes and abolitionists including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, President Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Soujourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and the baby of the bunch – Ida B. Wells.”
Dr. Anderson teaches her students about American history in a unique way, by dressing up the school and herself for a specific time and place each year. Her authentic ensemble was a challenge to build and a joy to research as we learned from each other.
Silhouettes wants to thank this customer who has become a friend and an “honorary Buffalo Gal” as we have forged our own new paths in history.
Silhouettes is alive and well although different as we are building very special ensembles for the Buffalo Gals. You can buy new and gently used garments plus fabrics, patterns, buttons, and more from our SilhouettesCostumes Etsy.com shop.