Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dressed for 1775: The Tailor's Intern, Colonial Williamsburg

Thursday, June 2, 2016
Isabella reporting,

Whenever I'm visiting Colonial Williamsburg in the summer months, I always try to share photographs of the summer interns from the Margaret Hunter shop. Not only does the summer internship program provide valuable hands-on experience for college students who are studying historic clothing, construction, and fashion, but it also fills the shop with younger workers - workers whose ages more closely coincide with their counterparts in the 18thc.

It's easy to forget how young the Georgian labor force could be. Extended schooling was a luxury for the upper classes, child labor laws did not exist, and the entire concept of the teenager is a twentieth century invention. Most young people worked, often at an age when we'd still consider them children. Chimney sweeps, cabin boys, scullery maids, and workers in the mines, mills, and factories toiled long hours in hazardous condition for little pay. By comparison, an apprenticeship with a mantua-maker (dressmaker) or tailor offered the opportunity to learn a skilled trade, and the possibility of relative security and success.

Ike Cech, above, is one of the tailor's 2016 summer interns (I'll share the mantua-maker's interns soon.) A student at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Ike is studying textile and fashion design with a focus on historic design. This is Ike's second summer at Colonial Williamsburg; last year he was part of the team sewing the reproduction of General Washington's marquee, or tent (see more about the tent here.)

It was hot and humid today in Williamsburg, and Ike shows how an 18thc Virginian would have dressed for the summer weather while keeping an eye on London fashion. He's wearing loose, lightweight striped trousers, a checked linen shirt, and a black silk neckerchief. His striped jacket is a light wool and worn open (see the same jacket here worn buttoned for a very different look.) The final jaunty touch: a white felted wool hat, the summer version of the ubiquitous black hat worn by most 18thc Englishmen.      

Photograph ©2016 by Susan Holloway Scott.          


Unknown said...

Worthy of a General Wolfe whistle.

Unknown said...

Hello ladies

It is great that you love to come and visit Colonial Williamsburg. The Millinery and Tailors are awesome, but if you want to expand your horizons than please consider to come and visit the Wigmaker Shop. We would love to address the lastest fashions for one's own hair and wigs etc. You can't really be dressed proper unless you start from the head to eventually ones foot.

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