Years ago I saw an ad in the back of Vogue Sewing Magazine for an "authentic victorian corset." Intrigued I ordered the pattern from Past Patterns and then had to start searching for the supplies. What was a busk? Where do I get spring steel stays? Luckily I found places to get these items but this was way before the internet so it did take a while. Anyway, in the process of locating these supplies I found a whole group of people who costume for the fun of it, for the art of it. There were dances where you could wear costumes. There was a yearly convention. I'd found a hidden passion!
I eventually co-founded my own costuming group in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1990. Though I've moved to Seattle the group is alive and doing quite well to this day under the guidance of a wonderful bunch of folks who took over for me. Check out The Greater Bay Area Costumer's Guild and take a look at the events they put on. They also have a wonderful resource called The Great Pattern Review where people submit reviews (and sometimes photos) of the commercial costuming patterns.
I'm adding my own costume projects as my schedule permits so check the sub-categories under Costuming to check them out.