Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here We Are! Where are we going?

Old Sturbridge Village - 2009

At a recent event, I had a chat with someone who has been away from the hobby for a few years.  She noticed something remarkable about how the women were dressed at the recent BAR event in Needham, Massachusetts.  She noted how just a few years ago there was a real bell curve when it came to accuracy in women's clothing.  A few were really bad, most fell into some middle ground of generally acceptable, but not really great either, with only a few really outstanding impressions on the other end of the spectrum.  Her current observation was that most of the middle ground have joined the ranks of the good and she noticed a larger gap between poor impressions and ones that were really well done.

Hartwell Tavern 2010

What this seems to indicate is that we, as female reenactors, have made great strides in presenting ourselves as 18th Century women.  It is especially noticeable at events at Minute Man National Historical Park where standards have been in place for several years.

Foodways Preservation Program - Hartwell Tavern 2010

The majority of women are now in stays and gowns. There is a nice diversity and selection of fabrics, very few bad cotton prints, and for the most part, women in our New England area are reflecting the recent scholarship on how people in greater Boston were dressed in the 18th Century.   This has all happened in the last 5-6 years, and not by accident.  The Internet has made the dissemination of information easier, museums are putting their collections on line, specialized yahoo groups have emerged, new clothing patterns have become available, there are more quality sutlers out there, new books published, and a community of sharing at Minute Man NHP, through the Hive Programs, have all combined into a perfect storm for reenactors to create and wear more historically accurate clothing.

 Hartwell Tavern - 2009

So what's next, now that the basics are well in hand?

Though we’re looking much better overall, if we zoom in the lens of the time machine a little closer, it becomes evident that we should focus our efforts on paying closer attention to time, place, social status, and the details of our overall look.  Over the next several months, this blog will be looking at how we, as women in New England, can fine-tune our impressions.  We will do that by examining the documentation and hopefully opening up a dialog that will bring additional findings to light and start the process of bringing our 18th century impressions to the next level! 
 Shift Race - Hartwell Tavern MMNHP

Please feel free to comment and make suggestions, a dialogue takes more than one person!

 The Hive Collective

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