It is a rare occasion that brings together 75 Sherlock Holmes aficionados, their friends, and significant others in one place, but that’s exactly what happened on January 10 at the Salmagundi Club in Manhattan for the First Daintiest Thing Under a Bonnet Charity Ball. To boot, it was all in the name of a good cause, benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps combat-injured soldiers, their loved ones, and care givers. It was a most appropriate charity considering the Sherlockians’ most treasured Wounded Warrior—Dr. John Watson.
The event was hosted by the Baker Street Babes, and it had the distinction of being the biggest collection of Babes in one place since the women behind the popular podcast are spread out around the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe (with several here in New York, including our very own Lyndsay Faye).
Starting with a cocktail hour and music from The Wandering Cellist Ensemble, the mood was set with a few men and women in period specific costumes. One of the speakers, Ashley Polasek, and her escort were decked out in matching Victorian evening attire—Ashley in a cap-sleeved, corseted, and bustled blue dress and her escort in a matching coat, tails, and top hat.
Another attendee had created a bustled and tiered skirt with matching steampunk accessories. She told us it had taken her a month to create the skirt and bodice, adding pieces as she felt like, and then restuffed her bustle—because any self-respecting Sherlockian always has a bustle just lying around, you never know when you’ll need it!
While some people took the opportunity to people watch, others looked at the art, books, and memorabilia on display for both the live and silent auctions that happened at the end of the evening (stay tuned for a special newsletter-subscribers-only sweepstakes that will include some of the great prizes Clare Toohey and I picked up during the auction, including posters and fan art!)
The cocktail hour was followed by a buffet dinner, toasts, and trivia. We shared a table with some Baker Street Irregulars who had flown in from England—and ended up being one of the esteemed toasters. As to be expected the toasts ranged from speeches to Dr. John Watson (obviously), the Jezail Bullet (the bullet that wounded Watson, and not so obvious), Altamont (an alias used by Sherlock Holmes in His Last Bow), Henry Wood (a character from “The Crooked Man”), and Mrs. Stoner, the young widow of Major-General Stoner of the Bengal Artillery.
Our evening was finished out with the round of trivia, which included questions from canon, the BBC series Sherlock, CBS’s Elementary and the various Sherlock Holmes movies. Clare and I were mollified to know that not even the Baker Street Irregulars who shared the table with us knew all the answers to the very difficult questions.
All in all, the evening was splendid. There were bonnets, Sherlocks, and even a few Irene Adlers. To top it off, hundreds of dollars were raised for a cause even Sherlock would have been happy to contribute to!
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance and watching crime shows, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt.