Friday, January 15, 2010

Keeping Warm Whilst Walking: Cloak & Hat, Muff & Mitts

Friday, January 15, 2010

Susan reporting:

We promised we'd show what an 18th c. lady (or at least our favorite mantua-maker's apprentice, Sarah Woodyard, from Colonial Williamsburg) would wear to go walking outside, and here she is. 

Once again, it's all about the layers. She has a kerchief tucked into the neckline of her gown, a shorter wool capelet, and a wool-lined, hooded silk cloak over that. Long mitts cover her forearms, and her hands would be tucked inside a snug little matching muff. The muff is stuffed with wool and lined. Think
 of putting your hands inside a cozy pillow. 

Remember, too, that beneath her gown, she could be wearing a quilted petticoat and one of the quilted waistcoats we showed earlier this week. Colder weather would require a longer, heavier wool cloak, perhaps even lined or trimmed with fur.

If it's a blustery day, she'll put up the hood of her cloak, as in the first picture, above left.  But if she's making a more stylish promenade, she'd add a hat covered in the same silk to match her muff and cloak. The ribbon that holds this in place is tied not beneath her chin (as ladies would do in the 19th c.), but on the back of her head, and over her cap, with an extra hat-pin or two if necessary to keep the hat at the most cunning, over-the-eyes angle. 

A young apprentice or assistant in any of the fashion trades would have served as something of a walking advertisement for her mistress when she was sent out on errands, dressed in clothes from the shop. Of course, she might attract attention that had nothing to do with future customers for her mistress, as this print, right, shows. The sly title – An English Man-of-War, taking a French Privateer - says it all, though the sailor and the milliner's apprentice appear to be much more interested in making love, not war.


Anabel said...

I loved your blog! It's excellent!

Mme.Tresbeau said...

So beautiful! I always wondered how those sloping hats looked from the back. Is that her hair in a bun under the white cap?

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Anabel, thank you! I'm happy that you found us. :)

Mme. T., I'm glad the pictures answered your questions. Yes, Sarah has her hair pinned up in a knot high on the top of her head, in proper 18th c. fashion, and covered by her cap.

Danni said...

Can't imagine doing all that to go walk the dog, but it's a very pretty outfit. You have the best pictures on this blog. Like nothing I've seen anywhere else. Thank you!

Vanessa Kelly said...

I'm very interested in those mitts. Were they always open over the fingers?

nightsmusic said...

Lovely! I wouldn't mind taking a walk on a cold day dressed like that. :)

You mentioned that ladies in the 19c. would have tied that jaunty little hat under their chin, but I don't recall them wearing the muslin caps either, did they? Which would then make sense that they'd tie them beneath the chin rather than behind the head.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Vanessa, all the mitts I saw in CW did seem to be open over the fingers -- which reminded me of the current fad for fingerless mittens and gloves to facilitate texting. *g* These mitts were made from the same fabric as a gown (as opposed to the stretchy, warm fabrics like fleece or knits today), and were meant to protect the bare forearms from sun as well as wind and cold. No lady had a tan or freckles!

Theo, I'm thinking that the caps for day are more a 18th than 19th, and I don't recall seeing caps beneath hats. Which isn't to say it wasn't ever done...just that I don't remember seeing it. (Anyone may feel free to remind me!)

Loretta Chase said...

Oh, I do love her mitts and her muff.

Avonlea said...

Amazing blog, Girls. In the background of the first pic there is a toy doll, or maybe a poster? Might I ask about that? Did the dressmaker sell dolls, too?

Ingrid said...

I get the impression that, especially in the later 19th century, caps were more the province of older ladies. Did you get to see the BBC series Cranford in the US? It is set in the 1830's and all the older ladies in it wear caps and put their bonnets on top of them when they go outside. To me the costuming looks well-researched.
I am sure I have seen bonnets over caps in fashion plates and other pictures of the period, but all I could find on the net on short notice was this 1830's fashion plate, and you cannot really be sure whether the frills are caps or decoration of the bonnet.

Jane O said...

I love that muff. Now there's a fashion that could use revival. It could even be practical, made with two compartments, one to keep your hands warm and one to serve as a purse.
For that matter, I wouldn't mind a cap for coping with bad hair days. But I suppose that it would have to be ironed to keep the frill looking crisp and pretty.
I do love this site.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Loretta, I love the mitts, too! Remember how we saw them in the warmer weather, too, ones with embroidered backs that were very pretty and ornamental? No "lady" seemed to be without them.

Avonlea, you have sharp eyes! *g* You're right: in the back of the first picture is a doll, part of a little tableau in one of the shop's display cases. The doll isn't a toy, however, but meant to be dressed to show the latest fashions. I'm going to write about these dolls soon, with more pictures.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Ingrid, I'm glad you accepted my "cap in hat" challenge. This morning I've done a bit more hunting, so now I can speak with a bit more confidence (if not out-and-out authority).

You're right, there are 19th c. linen caps, and occasionally beneath the wide-brimmed hats that come into style. But it seems to be a style only worn by older ladies, a kind of throw-back to their youth, I guess. I couldn't find any pictures or references to this being a style worn by anyone who was faintly fashionable.

Loved the picture you found! However, I believe those ruffles that are framing the face are part of the bonnet, and not a separate cap. There are lots of hats like that, with the space between the shaped brim and the face filled in with linen ruffles, gathered lace, even artificial flowers.

Caps for older ladies for indoor wear seem to appear in pictures throughtout the century, and they're even on "old lady" characters in early 20th c. movies. Not only do these caps cover thinning hair gracefully, but they're also tied in with mourning dress, and considered appropriate for widows.

Jane O., I love muffs, too, and mean to write about them at some future date. Over the past, they've been made of fur and cloth, they've been tiny and enormous, and they've been carried by men as well as women. I agree: it's a style that needs reviving -- though I suspect nowadays a muff would need a special pocket for a laptop, or at least a pda. *g*

nightsmusic said...

I had a white mink muff my aunt bought for me when I was around 8 or 9 and it had a little pocket inside just big enough for a tiny mirror, tiny comb and tube of lipstick which were the three things my aunt always said no lady ever left the house without. What I was going to do with a tube of lipstick at that age is beyond me, but that's what it was for. This was back in the...a long time ago.

I imagine it was a more 'modern' thing, the pocket, but the muff sure kept my hands warm. :-)

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Theo, I had a white fur muff, too, with a matching poofy headband, but mine was probably, ah, "lapin" rather than mink. *g* But it sure made me feel like a fancy, grown-up lady -- and yes, it did keep hands warm!

nightsmusic said...

lol! I had a matching hat that had velvet ties with fur pom poms on the end. It tied under my chin.

And trust me, the only reason it was mink was because my aunt had more money than she knew what to do with and no kids.

nightsmusic said...

Darn, hit the send too quick, but DD2 is whining about an ex friend...

Yup, I really felt like a grown up lady too. :-)

Amberlyn said...

These clothes are so beautiful and romantic, I wish I could dress like this.

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