I thought this was very sophisticated, bubble-bottom and all.
If this fancy, ball gown could talk!
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of chaperoning Sweet Pea and her class to a Civil War museum. The museum is a private collection that consists mostly of military clothing from the war and it was fascinating. The main room had glass display cases lined-up against the walls and the Yankees were on one side and the Confederates on the other, never the two shall combine. The collection held uniforms of all different ranks and some weapons, but what was truly interesting were the little items that the soldiers carried with them: a small Bible, lockets with faded photos and locks of hair, ornate pocket watches, etc. These were items from home that the soldiers carried with them into battle and brought them comfort when they were away from loved ones. Sweet Pea and her classmates hurried through the exhibit and I was hard pressed to get them interested in dusty, old uniforms, until we got to the last room. The room was filled with women and children's fashions from the 1850's to the early 1900's.
Something for the gentlemen - I know that our forefathers were smaller than we are today, but these uniforms wouldn't fit my twelve year old Fisherman!
Sweet Pea and her friends decided that they definitely live in the right era, as the clothing was so cumbersome! There was an entire display of corsets and once the girls got over giggling at the idea of staring at undergarments, they were mesmerized at the tortuous looking items. Why would anyone wear those? The result was quite amazing - the teeny tiny waists had to be seen to be believed. Tighter Mammy, tighter! Another case held bustles. This one gets me. Why, pray tell, would anyone want to make their backside look as though it swallowed a basketball? The display even held a maternity dress from the 1860's. I did not know that pregnant women were not to be seen during their pregnancy and only left the house for church and funerals. This was not that long ago! We've come a long way, baby!
Reading about the past is one thing, but to see clothing that an actual living person wore and lived their life in makes the past real for me. The fancy, silk ballgowns, the calico "work" dresses, the heavy, long wool swimsuit, bonnets and hats and the fussy, little children's clothes.. all tell stories of a life lived. I love to study the past and look at the paths that have lead us to where we are today and I wonder what will be in a clothing display case from 2011 and what will it say about our lives? Will there be a display of Spanx next to the corsets and bustles? I'll take Spanx any day over whale bones and non-stretchy fabrics, thank you very much! And as for the bustles, well, since I am blessed with my own "built-in" bustle, I think I'll let them stay in the past.
Actual bustles - strap one on!
A child's corset. Really?
Sweet Pea and friends - very happy not to be wearing the above device!