WHAT LIES BENEATH

Victoria's Secret is more widely known than its name implies, but the company might not exist if not for the 1890s invention of the bust-girdle, which evolved into the modern-day brassiere. Colleen Gau, co-author of "Uplift: The Bra in America" will touch on how bra design shifted in response to such factors as wartime rationing, the increasing number of women in sports and the feminist movement of the 1960s and '70s when she delivers "Looking for the Perfect Bra," today at Riversdale House Museum. Gau will analyze women's social history and the business aspect of the fashion industry as she talks about this article of clothing, which was created to promote women's health but came to symbolize much more. The lecture is at 7 p.m. at 4811 Riverdale Rd., Riverdale Park. Admission is $5. 301-864-0420.

UPPER MARLBORO MIRTH

Break out your best Victorian-era costume -- or don't. Special outfits are encouraged but aren't required for the Dickens Christmas Party at Poplar Hill on His Lordship's Kindness in Upper Marlboro. A National Historic Landmark, the Georgian home will become the scene for Saturday's holiday party, complete with local actors dressed in 19th-century outfits doing readings and playing Dickensian characters, such as Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. The actors will also give lessons in period dancing. Reservations are required for the event, which lasts from 6 to 10 p.m.; the $20 admission includes refreshments. 301-856-0358.

OUTDOOR DISCOVERY

The Patuxent Research Refuge is taking advantage of the fact that not all birds have migrated yet for the winter and others are stopping by on their way south. On Sunday, volunteer naturalists at the Laurel park will lead two bird-watching hikes and a night hike. On the morning bird walks, watchers may spot Carolina chickadees, red belly woodpeckers, American robins, mallards, waterfowl and resident and migratory Canada geese. Night hikers may see such animals as raccoons, skunks, red foxes and beavers. Binoculars and field guides are recommended for the bird tour, which goes from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and is open to those age 16 and older; the tour from 8 to 10 a.m. is for all ages. The night hike is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The programs are free but require reservations. 301-497-5887.