Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What to Wear for the Very End of Summer, c. 1775

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Isabella/Susan reporting:

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, above left, 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, above right, 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.


Anonymous said...

Just found about 2 weeks ago the nicest white fine 100 % cotton diaper fabric from India at WALMART of all places. Will make wonderful ruchings lke those on this robe. Also it was only $1.97 per yard. I took the bolt!!

Being in a very warm climate myself, this white cotton robe you have shown from Virginia is just the thing for Spring and Summer here.

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