Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Difficulties of 18th Century Dress: Saturday Links

Why is it that the clothing of bygone eras attracts so much interest? Perhaps it is a testament to the importance we place on our own wardrobes. Perhaps it is because we envy the more elaborate beauty of the past.

This week Two Nerdy History Girls shared some photos from a reenactor in Williamsburg, showing a young lady of the colonial era getting dressed for the day. It's remarkable how many layers of clothing a woman from this period had to put on, but as the post points out, someone used to doing it every day can don those layers pretty quickly. The most interesting part to me was that the front of the dress is pinned together using straight pins!

If getting dressed back then wasn't difficult enough, just think about what it would have been like to do the laundry for a household in this era! Maria Grace guest posted over on Kim Rendfeld's blog this week talking about all the steps needed to launder clothing in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Firewood might be gathered the day before, but if not, the laundress would need to move 150-200 pounds of wood to the laundry site to feed fires sufficient for a moderate estate’s laundry. That alone sounds like a day’s worth of effort, but for her it was only the beginning. Once wood was gathered and fires started, water had to be hauled to fill the copper boiler and additional wash and rinse basins.... (read more)

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