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In any decade, I love stripes.

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.

Here’s why:

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
one knapsack

(Clothing inventory, Capt Thos. Arnold, Col. Christopher Greene, Rhode Island Regiment
RIHS MSS 673 SG 2, S1, SSA Box 1 Folder 13)

From RIHS MSS 72, Preserved Pearce papers,  Tailor's and Tavern account books, 1778-1781.

From RIHS MSS 72, Preserved Pearce papers, Tailor’s and Tavern account books, 1778-1781.

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.”

One of my favorite garments of all time. Boy's frock, ca. 1760-1770. RIHS 1959.6.1

One of my favorite garments of all time. Boy’s frock, ca. 1760-1770. RIHS 1959.6.1

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.