Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gettysburg 150th Anniversary ~ The Ugly


Gettysburg 150th Anniversary ~ The Ugly

I decided to skip “the bad” because all in all, there really was no bad. Yes, we had some rain and mud, but….it was Gettysburg in July! What does one expect?

So, we move on to “the ugly”.

While I would LOVE to post images of “the ugly”, I have refrained from doing so to avoid being sued by overly sensitive persons. While “opinion” is not defamation, one must actually hire a lawyer to defend oneself for having an opinion – even though ultimately, I would owe no damages. So, instead, I will try to illustrate with words what constitutes “the ugly” and “the uninformed” and “the lazy” and “the clueless”.

Maybe I should just use bullets to emphasize the offenses that I saw at the BGA, the GAC and the NPS events~

1)   no corset! If you are going to portray a mid 19th Century women, you MUST wear a corset! No exceptions.
2)   Plastic, shiny, acetate, fire hazard dresses, petticoats, accessories. If it isn’t a fabric that consists of a material found in nature (and I do NOT mean petroleum derivatives), it is WRONG!
3)   Bangs. Fringes. Ringlets on girls over 12. Side parts. With very few exceptions, women of the mid 19th Century wore their hair parted in the center and dressed appropriately.
4)   Snoods. Of any color, fabric, design. Only very fine hairnets are acceptable. They may be decorative. But, the net is fine. And, one’s hair must be dressed / styled before affixing the net! Gathering one’s undressed, limp, unkempt tresses and enclosing that hair into a bulky hairnet is not acceptable.
5)   Modern sunglasses.
6)   Tennis shoes, flip-flops, Doc Martins: NO! NO! NO!
7)   Please, unless you are at the seashore or a very young girl (let’s at least draw the line in the modern world at 30) Do NOT wear a “height of fashion” straw hat. Your authentic options are a silk covered buckram bonnet, a stray bonnet, a sun bonnet, a slat bonnet, if inside a decorated hairnet (NOT snood), if a man – an appropriate military cover, if male civilian – in the summer a stray hat is appropriate.
8)   Solid color cotton dresses are verboten.
9)   Okay – the guy wearing a barrel and nothing else was amusing.
10)                   Those faux tapestry haversacks that are unfortunately carried by men and women alike are…..WRONG!
11)                   Make up! NO! No! Noooooooo! Unless, of course, you are a woman of ill –repute) Of course, when you have a period photo taken and you are wearing red lipstick, you are offended to see that your lips look….black!
12)                   A skirt / blouse combination with a Swiss waist unless you are a sweet young thing like the beautiful granddaughter of our friends Dean and Anita Lauramore!
13)                   Sunoco Rangers – men wearing jeans or twill pants with a stripe sewn along the outside seam to mimic a 19th Century military uniform.
14)                   Inappropriate parasols from Thai paper, Battenberg lace, plastic, acetate, etc.

Okay – this is just a small example of the unfortunate things that we saw over the last two weekends.  Please, if you are going to portray a 19th Century man or woman, make an effort to research what is appropriate.  Understand that just because somebody sells an item on Sutler Row, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is period correct. Committed historians and researchers of material culture have spent time and energy investigating what is appropriate. The experts make some accommodations for what is not readily available and understand the substitutions they make and have a legitimate basis for doing so.

Do your research.  Talk to the experts. If you want to make your own clothes or uniforms, buy your fabric and patterns from the right resources. If it is considerably cheaper than anyplace else, it probably isn’t right.  You get what you pay for in this hobby.  Go for quality over quantity always. It is worth it!
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