Before I wind up these posts from Colonial Williamsburg, I did want to mention the weather. While much of the country was suffering the effects of Winter Storm Freyr, Williamsburg's milder climate meant that the precipitation on the day after Christmas was heavy rain, not snow. But the temperatures did drop after that, and the addition of a blustery wind made for true winter weather, Virginia-style.
So how to dress for an 18th c. winter day? Georgian Virginians could have summed up their winter style in the same single word that their modern contemporaries do: layers. Quilted wool petticoats and waistcoats, thick stockings, scarves, mittens, caps, and mitts under heavy woolen cloaks were mandatory for those of every class who ventured out-of-doors, as interpreters Courtney Colligan and Amanda Davis demonstrate, right.
Yet even in a colonial city far from London, there were ladies who were as concerned about being fashionable as keeping warm. Although I didn't see our friends from the Margaret Hunter millinery shop outside during this visit, I found the photograph from an earlier Christmas season, left, of mantua-maker's apprentice Sarah Woodyard, ready to run an errand for her mistress. An 18th c. apprentice was a walking advertisement for her shop's wares, and Sarah's cloak is wool-lined silk, with a matching muff to keep her hands warm. (For more about her clothes, see the earlier post.)
A tailor's apprentice would also be expected to make a stylish figure when he left his shop. Michael McCarty, right, has been send out on his master's business, leather case in hand. He's chosen an uncocked, flat-brimmed hat and a neat, dark red woolen suit (waistcoat, breeches, and jacket.) His great coat of grey wool beaver may look familiar; we've seen it here before, worn by tailor Mark Hutter. (See here for more about the great coat.)
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.