18th century clothes, authenticity, Clothing, common dress, Costume, fashion, linen trousers, Research, resources, Rhode Island, sewing, style
You know this guy: the reluctant drummer and avid ensign who wants to be in uniform but struggles with the fact that he might be seen by someone. (14 is complicated.) I’ve been mulling over several upcoming events and the comments that swirl around on the Interwebs after any large event, and, as I often do, find my clarity in writing. That means you’ll have to wait till the end of this post or a series to get “answers,” or what pass for them.
One of the things I struggle with is that the kid is not a mannequin. He has stated quite plainly that he feels like I fuss too much over his appearance, when he has nothing to do at events, which leads him to believe that I am fussing over nothing. There’s some truth in that, right: while God and authenticity may be in the details, all is for nought if there’s nothing to do or interpret.
This means I cannot simply dress him up as I see fit, I have to negotiate with him, and keep on eye on what he’ll be doing. And I don’t have the time to make all the lovely things I’d like to make (or not all at once, anyway) so it’s a matter of choosing.
Let’s start with what the kid has already: the blue jacket, checked shirt, neck cloth, breeches, stockings and shoes. I went to the newspapers (the lower sorts’ Vogue) looking for examples of runaways, and found some good ones. On June 21, 1774, an ad was published in the Connecticut Courant for a boy who had run away in a “check linen shirt, pair of striped linen trousers, one pair brown plain cloth breeches…” but the Young Mr wants no part of striped linen trousers, and his breeches are linen, not wool.
On January 3, 1775, the Essex Gazette ran an ad for a boy in a “short blue jacket, snuff colored breeches and long trousers.” Now that’s more like it!
Long trousers sound good to the kid, more “normal” than breeches, but there’s a jacket in there that would satisfy my stripey love. For the short run, even if I don’t get the trousers made up in the next couple of weeks, he’s reasonably well documented, or at least within the realm of plausible appearances, even if he should be in wool and not linen, and even if one of the best reasons for making trousers is to replace the poorly-fitted breeches.
Kids shouldn’t just get a pass for inauthentic clothing, and children in what are really costumes do make me crazy–probably because I’m hand-sewing clothing for a wily teenager to grow out of, and looking for sources to make sure the choices I make have some form of documentation.
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