The staff at the Margaret Hunter shop, Colonial Williamsburg, are old friends of the Nerdy History Girls, and the shop is always one of the first stops I make when I visit. Lately mantua-maker Janea Whitacre and her staff have been studying and recreating fancy caps worn by English ladies c. 1770-1780. These caps were an early example of "fast fashion," extravagant styles that were only worn briefly before the next trendy, must-have cap appeared in the shops. Janea says that existing examples of these caps often have less-than-perfect craftsmanship in keeping with their short fashionable life.
The cap, left, is a recreation of the maidservant's cap worn in the 1770 print Tight Lacing, or Fashion before Ease by John Collet. Made of silk gauze and decorated with silk ribbons, there's no shoddy workmanship here: the stitches on the rolled hems and pinched and puffed trim are exquisitely tiny, making for a charming confection of a cap. (As always, click on the image to enlarge for details.)
But a cap on a painted mannequin head is no substitute for a lady. The photograph, right, comes from the Margaret Hunter shop's Facebook page, and shows the cap charmingly worn by summer intern Samantha.
More from the Colonial Williamsburg mantua-makers to come!
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.