18th century clothes, 2nd Rhode Island, authenticity, Clothing, common dress, common soldier, Costume, fashion, menswear, Museums, Revolutionary War, Rhode Island, uniforms
Stripes. I love them, really, I do. Gowns, petticoats, cats. Why do I want to use them so much?
For the guys, because I can document what they’re wearing, at least based on their current state of residence and their current nominal “home” unit with the BAR.
1777 Oct 22
An inventory of Searjeant George Babcock’s
Wearing Apparil who was Killed at fort Mercer
Octor 22d 1777 Belonging to Capt Thos Arnold’s Comp’y in Colo Green’s Regemt
Two Check Linen Shirts
one Pair of Striped Linen overalls
one Striped Cotton & linen Jacket without Sleeves
one flannel Jacket without Sleeves
one home spun Woolen Jacket without sleeves
one Linen & Worsted cotee
one Kersey outside Jacket Lined with flannel
one beaver Hat & one Pair of shoes
one Pair of blue worsted stockings
one pair of thread ditto
one pair of blue yarn Stockings
one Linnen Handkerchief
(Clothing inventory, Capt Thos. Arnold, Col. Christopher Greene, Rhode Island Regiment
RIHS MSS 673 SG 2, S1, SSA Box 1 Folder 13)
This inventory has formed the basis for many of the clothing choices I’ve made for Mr S and the Young Mr from their check linen shirts to their blue stockings. I was criticized for the size of the checks of their linen shirts (too small! I heard), but feel vindicated time and again by the extant garments I’ve found (aprons, mostly) in this period. The checks are small.
The best piece of evidence I found was serendipitous: whilst going through tailor’s books Thursday, looking for stays, I found a scrap of blue and white checked linen used as a binding. The biggest lesson from that scrap is that I need a deeper, more indigo-rich blue and white to begin with.
The “Striped Linen overalls” in the inventory are definitely on the list of things I’d love to make, along with the “Striped Cotton & linen Jacket without Sleeves.”
There are extant Rhode Island garments from made of blue striped linen, documented to the period we interpret, and another one, recently acquired (coming soon to a database near you!) from which a pattern has been taken.
After a while, though, blue stockings and checked linen shirts seem…ordinary. Common. You might start to wonder if they’re just another re-enactorism, they’re so ubiquitous.
It’s worth checking again to see that these are, in fact, common garments, probably as prevalent then as they are now.
Nancy N said:
So interesting to see the placement of the buttons on the back skirts, particularly the top ones. And the way the back neck was finished.
I am amazed, tho, at the depth of your research, and the difficulties you have to overcome in justifying each choice along the way. I could understand that hurdle for someone like myself, a jumped up costumer with no historic archive, but you’re “in the biz” and clearly conscientious about looking correct.
Love the shot of you and the cat… Great apron, with its obviously period correct smoke smudges!
The little frock is fantastic, isn’t it? I’d love to recreate it. The flaps at the skirts are like mariner’s cuffs– and the use of stripes is quite flashy.
Nope, the quest for authenticity involves digging deep these days. There is a juried event at MMNP coming up for which we have been asked to document our clothing choices, even if we’e not participating in the juried portion–at least, that’s how I read the email. If one documents choices, though, eventually I would think you’d get the freedom to play within those choices.
The apron still smells like tallow! The cat was swearing about being ejected from the house with the vat of tallow she wanted to eat. She’s one tough farm cat.
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Paul Dickfoss said:
I have accumulated a large selection of blue and white check linens as a PowerPoint presentation. I would love to have the opportunity to share it with you. Many of the pictures I cannot post because of the agreements with museums.
Paul, I would be very interested in seeing what you have found. I’ve looked at one very local sample book, and some extant local garments, thinking about regional variations or preferences in checks and stripes. You can DM me at kittycalash (at) gmail (dot) com, and I can send you more links and unbroken catalog records.
Niels H. said:
Great references, Kitty.
I like the nice mention of both a striped jacket (AKA waistcoat) and overalls together.
That’s a great look, which we’re just now starting to see really well-portrayed among reenactors.
Thank you, Niels. There are some buried references in primary sources that suggest a much more varied (checkered, if you will) appearance of enlisted men and civilians in the 18th century. There are some “striped woolen trowsis” on my to-sew list, based on letters from a Leominster soldier asking his mother to send them to him.