Monday, May 6, 2013

Abominations at Chancellorsville Reenactment- Ladies’ Impressions/Hair & Head Coverings

Abominations at Chancellorsville Reenactment- Ladies’ Impressions

I emerged from hibernation this past weekend to attend the Civil War Reenactment of 150th Anniversary of Chancellorsville, which was held in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  Apparently, not everybody in the re-enacting world was presented with a copy of my October 8, 2012 entry about striving for authenticity.

For those of you with a friend or acquaintance in need, please feel free to share this blog or the link below:

Perhaps we should tackle just one facet of one’s impression at a time. While Elizabeth Stewart Clark rightly suggests one start with the undergarments and work outwards, what assailed my senses this weekend most vividly (other than the pervasive lack of corsets) was the ostentatiously inappropriate head coverings – this encompasses hair and hair-coverings.

With regard to hair, I have a link below, which will take you to a Pinterest site with an abundance of CDVs that show how women of the 1860s actually wore their hair.

Please note the absence of bangs or fringes.  With perhaps one exception where a woman has parted her hair on the side, every CDV shows a woman with her hair parted in the center and pulled to the back into a roll, neatly secured with hairpins. With the exceptions of young girls, there are no sausage rolls or dangling curls, no flowing tresses down the back.  I can assure you that Wal-Mart carries the accouterments one needs to pin down errant bangs and created an appropriate faux period impression. This does not include a “snood” of any color.

Now let us turn to hats. I noted the reenactment was swarming with mutton dressed like lamb – women over 20 sporting little hats with yards of filmy lace or chiffon trailing behind and bouncing about like a horse prancing during dressage.  While we were quite close to the horse country, not a soul was wearing a riding habit, save the cavalry. And since Fredericksburg, Virginia is not close to the sea, wide brimmed straw hats were not appropriate. If one is out and about, the appropriate hair covering is a bonnet. For working impressions a corded or slat sunbonnet is the way to go. For other occasions, a decorated straw or silk covered spoon shaped bonnet is appropriate.  I have links below to a few purveyors of lovely bonnets.

Please remember that everybody who attends a reenactment as a participant has a responsibility to the general public who attend to make an effort to portray the original actors accurately. For me, few things are sadder than seeing a visitor photograph a careless or uninformed re-enactor thinking they are seeing a true representation of the past.  There are original photographs available!!!

Bonnet Resources:

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