No Nerdy History Girl visit to Colonial Williamsburg is complete without checking in to see what the stylish 18th c. mantua-makers in the Margaret Hunter shop are wearing.
Colonial Virginians had no fashion-rules about when to put away their summer clothes for the season, but simply wore their warm-weather clothes until the warm weather passed. Newspapers from 1774 noted that summer had lingered into mid-November, and summer wardrobes with it. This was also the case last week, when the temperatures were in the balmy 80s, with clothing to match.
The clothes shown here are replicas, meticulously copied from 18th c. originals, and cut and stitched by hand exactly as an 18th seamstress would have done. As always, click on the images to enlarge them for details.
Doris Warren, aboveleft, is wearing a violet linen petticoat, stomacher, and laced jacket in the French style. The jacket is also lined with linen, making it a comfortable choice for a hot day. The sleeve ruffles, apron, and tucker (the ruffles at the neckline) are cotton, and the cap is also cotton, trimmed with a silk ribbon.
Sarah Woodyard, aboveright, may be a mantua-maker's apprentice, but here she's dressed for a summer stroll with an eye towards capturing a few hearts along the way. Her sack gown is made of summer dimity, trimmed with ruffled and pleated furbeloes (see the detail, left.) Silk ribbon bows in mint green add a touch of color, and around her throat is a cotton kerchief. Her hat is straw, covered in pleated silk and silk gauze and crowned with ostrich feathers. She's wearing her hat over a cotton cap, and tipped fashionably (and flirtatiously) low over her face to protect it from the sun.
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.