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Looking East from Fort Lee Historic Park

The cold on the Palisades was not as bitter this past weekend as it was last year; there must have been at least an 8 degree (F) difference. There was a rumour of 37F/2C but I think it was about 45-50F (7-10C). Where there was sun, it was quite pleasant, as the wind was gentle.

So what did we wear? Mr S and the Young Mr had long underwear under their uniforms (white so it would not show under the overalls), and long stockings, too; the Young Mr has a wool waistcoat, and is still so wiggly that I don’t know how much he feels the cold yet.

Layers are your friend

I wore my 1780s wool jacket, two linen petticoats and a wool petticoat, my still-unfaced cloak, and wool stockings, and was comfortable enough at nooning to take off my cloak. It’s a long cloak, based on one in the collection at work, but blue broadcloth and not drab (the extant cloak is drab, but both drab or dun and blue appear in RI runaway ads).

So what’s the key to keeping warm? Then, as now, (or now dressing as then) it does seem to be layers. The wool petticoat makes an effective barrier against cold, and the wool jacket is warm. I tried patterning mitts, but my hands are so large relative to my wrists that I tore the muslins at the thumb or had very baggy wrists.

These chintz mitts from the Met (C.I.39.13.185a–d) seem to have a similar tendency to width at the wrist, and might work better than the pair I was following from Costume Close Up. It was late and I was tired, so a fresh start might work to keep my hands warm.

Post-war women with long sleeves would have been able to avoid that chill wind on the forearms, and I look forward to wearing my new long-sleeved wool dress.