I didn’t mean to turn out this way, but I did. It might have something to do with being interested in historical costume for as long as I can remember, or spending summer afternoons at the Chicago Historical Society, or a grandmother who could turn fabric and thread into anything. But inauthentic clothing and gear grates on me, and that’s one reason I’m incredibly unlikely to trail along with the “colonial” women behind a militia unit in a local parade. I just can’t trot along next to a woman wearing Hush Puppies and a short gown made of fabric last seen on Bob Ross’s couch.
This is not to say that I’m perfectly authentic—I have problems with gear and clothing, mostly revolving around fit and using a sewing machine on some long seams, or seams that get stressed, and let’s not get into what I carry in my sewing basket. But I keep trying to learn more, and trying to figure out what would fit my persona of the past. Here’s what I do know:
Like my grandmother, I’m picky. I would never have given up stays unless my child would starve if I didn’t sell them.
And like Elsa, I care about my appearance—I’m just less successful in presentation. So how my clothes went together would have mattered to me.
Shoes. Guaranteed, we would have managed shoes, since my great-great grandmother made her own.
As much as I try to get into a real lower-sorts place, I can’t. Tidy, orderly, as clean as possible. That’s just part of who I am.
So what about those women in their upholstery-like prints, plastic glasses and little cotton caps plopped atop modern haircuts? What to do about them–and their men? One man asked us yesterday where we’d gotten Dave’s uniform–where’d we find the hunting frock and overalls?
I made them, I said. By hand.