No wire hangers. Gotcha!
1. Wear a corset! Really! It makes a difference and it not uncomfortable. A corset holds the “girls” in place, provides the period correct silhouette, and gives one back support;
2. No bangs! No ringlets! Part ye hair in the center pull it into a neat roll;
3. No synthetic fabrics! Synthetics are flammable, shiny and inappropriate; if it is shiny, don’t buy it! No matter how good the deal! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
4. No obvious makeup. Avoid looking like a trollop!
5. No zippers!
6. Please to avoid inappropriate footwear! No visible tennis shoes, crocs, sandals or stiletto heels. Square toe ankle boots or dancing slippers (for the correct occasion) or square toe flats only.
7. Unless you are a sweet young thing (defined as under 20 years of age) please don a one piece dress with the same pattern on the bodice and skirt of wool or silk or cotton. No white shirtwaist and patterned calico skirts! Also, unless a young girl no Swiss waist!
8. Again, repeat after me – unless you are a maiden or hunting, at the shore, a ball, a dinner, or at home, please wear a silk or straw bonnet or a wool or cotton sunbonnet when out and about. At the shore one may wear a wide brimmed hat. While hunting one may don a narrow brimmed hat; indoors one may wear a decorated hairnet or lace cap or festive hair ornament. Otherwise – mutton dressed as lamb!
9. All sad rayon snoods should be burned – or melted. I have short, baby fine hair, but I can still find period appropriate ways to disguise my 21st Century locks. Make an effort. It is not expensive or challenging. Purveyors of awful hair coverings should be shot with Nerf balls! Charlatans I say!
10. Discard all of those tapestry shoulder bags! Yikes!
11. Battenberg lace was not used in the 1860’s! Unless you have traveled back in a time machine, your Battenberg lace parasol is of the future!
12. Just because somebody sells it on Sutler row, that does not mean it is period correct. Many sutlers are clueless about what the people of the time actually wore and used. Some sutlers are stuck in the sad days of the 1970’s or don’t care if they can make a buck.
Okay, so I figure if I repeat these guidelines over and over again somebody may listen. I work in insurance claims so I am used to misguided people disagreeing with me or ignoring me. But while re-enacting is a fun family activity – it is not a game. It is educating the public on the way things were and we have a duty to represent an authentic persona – not a caricature!
Why do I care? Because we owe it to posterity!
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