Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wardrobe: Civil War Inspired

In attempts to be inspired by Civil War Era fashion it is difficult not to address the elephant in the room: women's lack of rights during the 19th century. I won't get too deep into the 19th century view point on women. I'll just get fired up. Basically we have the Cult of Domesticity. The notion that a woman's place is in the home. As the delicate sex it is in her nature to be quiet and moral. She should only worry herself with organizing parties and hosting guests of her husband. Women should not be concerned with matters outside the home, especially politics. In fact it might hurt them to do so... blah blah blah.
There were some efforts by women to gain equal rights in the mid 19th century and although women were not considered in the fight of equality for all men, I think it certainly got the wheels turning.

That being said, women's fashion of that time wasn't necessary my taste either. However what happened to fashion as an industry is very influential to how we think about clothing today.

An interesting little fact we learned on our tour of Harper's Ferry (important sight for the Abolisionists' and famous for John Brown's ill fated attempt at a slave rebellion), is that standardized sizing of ready-made clothing came about through the Civil War. Previous to that the wealthy had their clothes taylored to their exact measurements and the less well off made their own or bought used items. This includes shoes, hats, gloves, and other accessories. Some ready-made clothing was produced but was so ill fitting that they were known as "slops". Data was collected from the troops and used to create standardized sizes so that clothing, shoes, and hats could be mass produced.

This profoundly influenced the way we interact with clothing now. Ready-made items are cheaper to produce and the main source for dressing most if not all Americans. Plus shopping as a past-time would arguably not exist.

So here is my Civil War inspired ensemble for today's publicly and politically participating female.

*Custom made clothing still exists today and is known as Couture but that is a story for another posting.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...