All posts tagged: Fortnight in 1916

My Costume College talks

I’m off to the US for Costume College this week, and I am SO excited!  I’ll be seeing costumers I haven’t seen in almost a decade, meeting costumers I’ve never met in real life, taking some amazing classes, and even giving two p myself! My first talk is a topic I’ve been fascinated by for years, and which I’ve given as a class or presentation in various forms: the history of the paisley/boteh motif. I just think it’s amazing that this one motif has become so universally recognisable (even Mr D knows what paisley is!): as much so as spots or stripes or checks, though its much more specific and esoteric.   The history of how it came to be so well known, and the different things it has represented in Western fashion, is quite phenomenal – and quite important to know as a historical costumer, so that you understand what your paisley garment would have meant to the people viewing it at the time it was made (spoiler alter: wealth!, knowledge!, sex!, security!, ethics!, conventionalism!, respectability!, …

A Fortnight in 1916: Clothing

You’ve gotten some hints, but many people have asked what my wardrobe was like for my Fortnight in 1916. I did a great deal of research in diaries and newspaper articles, and assembled what I thought resembled a fairly middle of the road wardrobe for a housewife to wear during a two week period in Wellington in August 1916.  One thing my researched revealed is that, just like today, there was probably a fair amount of variation in wardrobes, even in the same social class.  Some of us own dozens of bras, some of us own 2: the same was true in 1916. Here, however, is my best guess at what a middle class Wellington housewife would have worn over a two week period in winter 1916 (eta: her total wardrobe would have been bigger, particularly in terms of accessories, one or two nice outfits, and seasonal items, but that didn’t come up in my fortnight): Five combinations: My research indicates very poor women only had one set of undergarments, and even some ‘middle class’ …

1916: it gets better…

There is just 36 hours left in my 1916 experiment, and while I am to the point where I’m not just counting the days, but the hours, and while I have done more than a little whinging, I have to admit…it gets better. The longer I do it, the easier it gets.  The more the corset fits my body, the easier it is to live in the clothes, the more I really learn to move and work and rest with them, and the more familiar I am with every task that I do. It was really hard for the first week, and then not so hard. I did more than twice as much laundry the second time around, but took the same amount of time.  I can get a three course dinner on the table with under 45 minutes of actual work for most meals (cooking time is a totally different story!  No pressure cookers!).  I’ve even gotten better at ironing, and washing dishes with a stupid bristle brush and a washrag.   I think if I lived …