Colonial Williamsburg is land-locked in the Virginia Tidewater, so imagine my surprise this morning to meet this handsome young 18th c. sailor strolling the streets of the town. (He's really CW interpreter Beau Andrews.) His shirt, straw hat, and waistcoat are standard attire for any man of the time regardless of his class, but what instantly caught my eye - and what identified him to me as a sailor - were his linen petticoat breeches, the first I'd ever actually encountered outside of a painting or print.
One of my very first posts for this blog - way back in 2009! - was about petticoat breeches. While this fashionable affectation for gentlemen and courtiers didn't last long in the second half of the 17th c., it did continue for working sailors long into the 18th c. It was a practical style: the wide legs offered plenty of room for movement and could be easily rolled up higher on the leg if necessary, and the loose fit dried quickly. While breeches as wide as these gradually narrowed with the 19th c., loose-legged trousers continued to be standard attire for working sailors, and remain so today.
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.