Monday, July 30, 2012

Documenting Your Kit - Easier Than You Think

Snakes, spiders, swarms of biting insects, wearing wool in 100 degree heat -- that's nothin' for most reenactors. But ask someone to provide documentation for their kit and they end up looking like they've just seen a ghost. But here's the deal, everyone should be able to document what they are wearing. Now it could be argued that not each person who takes part in this hobby is interested in the clothing aspect of things, but I would make the case that as a costumed living historian, it's actually one of the most important. It's the first thing others see and it's the visual memory you leave behind.  And consider for a moment the history you can teach using clothing as a prop.  Think: taxes, importation of finished goods to the colonies, social status, manufacturing, trade, etc.,  Being able to provide the sources for your clothing choices is an important part of taking your impression to a higher level.

So what is involved in providing documentation for your clothing? It's actually much easier than you think. Over the next week, we are going to share several examples, from working class to gentry.  The good news is, that it does not require writing a master's thesis, much of the work has already been done for you, if you look hard enough.  There are great reference books at your disposal to draw from, as well as countless on-line sources; and for you overachievers out there, well, the sky's the limit.

Today, we're going to start with gentry kit for a lady.......

Gentry Kit for a Lady: 1773

Shift: Linen, based on Copp Family shift at the Smithsonian Institute, CT provenance

Stays: From pattern drafted from pair at Memorial Hall, Deerfield, MA
(In progress: silk & wool covered stays)

Gown: Modeled after Dorothy Quincy portrait by John Singleton Copley – pink silk taffeta, open front 1772

Cap – Wired, lace with silk ribbon

Apron: Linen – hand embroidered
MFA accession# 64.1913 New England provenance

Handkerchief: Fine Linen trimmed with lace – Gainsborough, Countess Howe 1763

Hat – Straw trimmed with white silk ribbon - Gainsborough,  Countess Howe 1763

Thomas Gainsbourgh 1763 - Countess Howe

Fabric & Trim Samples

Shoes:  Silk Shoes

Silk covered shoes by American Duchess – silk dyed blue

Next: We'll take a look at a middlin' kit using many resources you are probably already familiar with.

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