CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. — Tryon Palace in New Bern was once the location of North Carolina's state capitol.

It often holds educational events that transport visitors back in time to learn about history. These celebrations include handmade, intricate costumes worn to help immerse visitors in the time period.

Making modern-day clothes takes a lot of hard work, but making historical clothing is even harder.

What You Need To Know

  • Historic clothing interpreters design vintage clothing for historical re-enactments

  • The patterns and inspiration are found in old portraits, books and photos

  • Leslie Lambrecht creates these outfits for events at Tryon Palace in New Bern

  • She gives tours of her costume shop every month

“I fell in love with costumes really early in life,” said Leslie Lambrecht, an historic clothing interpreter.

She has loved playing dress-up ever since she was a little girl, but she liked dressing other people more than dressing herself. In college, this passion led her to start sewing costumes for theater productions.

Now, that career has led her to Tryon Palace.



Creating historically accurate costumes comes with a lot of research. Lambrecht gets the ideas for her dresses from photos, portraits and historic books with lots of details and patterns. Then, she adds her own imagination to make them unique. 

“You just go, 'OK I like this dress, but why don't I do it in pink or why don't I do it in this color,'” Lambrecht said.

Her favorite dress in her costume shop was modeled after Queen Charlotte's wardrobe. It's made of an ivory silk and overlayed with a crystal embedded netting. The dress took over a month to complete. Lambrecht based the design off of a portrait of Queen Elizabeth and then added details of her own that still stayed true to the time period. 

“While we love this dress and it is very nice, the problem is I can't really use this dress again because when she is in a ballroom, this is the only dress you see,” Lambrecht said.

These costumes don't just hang in a museum, actors wear them during historical events at Tryon Palace. Lambrecht has had to become an expert in history in order to learn about the different styles of different time periods.

Ultimately, Lambrecht is happy she got to fall in love with something she had a talent for.

It's a passion she is happy to share with others. Lambrecht gives tours of the costume shop once or twice a month. She shows guests how the costumes are researched and made, and you can even get a glimpse at some of her past and current projects.