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Author Topic: Countering arguments for looking too well dressed for a portrayal  (Read 11190 times)
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E L Watkins-Morris
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« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2015, 05:10:47 AM »

When presented with this kind of situation reply, "What an interesting assumption!" then keep on walking or change the subject.

I learned this response on another forum and have been trying very hard to use it lately to keep from getting upset over this kind of issue and others. It is polite and well within the bounds of 19th and 21st century etiquette.

Liz W.

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Simple yet complex...-Mark Baldridge, Art 101: The Principles of Design
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« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2015, 08:27:49 AM »

From my experience as noted in my previous post here, I now recall that when the topic came up about the one or two "slatternly" looking women in the community, the words "She drinks!" were spoken in a whisper, no doubt so my 10-year-old ears wouldn't hear (this technique just makes kids listen harder!).  So an impression of a ragged, dirty woman probably should include a period whisky bottle as a prop! 
Miss Whitlock
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« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2015, 10:44:11 PM »

I see that this hasn't been replied to in a while, but I wanted to say that I found this whole discussion very useful.

What would you define as the difference between a work dress and a day dress?
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« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2015, 02:45:54 PM »

Well since the term work dress tends to be a modern label and even day dress in the period is more commonly referred to as a "dress" it's hard to find primary documentation for these differences.  My personal definitions:

Work Dress:  Something I am going to wear and get actually dirty (Please keep in mind I do 1850-1860 events).  My work dresses are normally made of reproduction cotton, with gathered bodices and gauged skirts, They tend to be hemmed to the bottom of my ankle bone (shorter than my normal dresses). They have very little decoration other than a possible sleeve cap or directional use of fabric and I also tend to wear them with a neckerchief rather than a collar.  On my head I wear a slat bonnet.  I'd use a work dress for camping and walking the Mormon/Oregon Trail or reenactments for such purpose, doing demonstrations of laundry, gardening, etc.  Heres a recent picture of one of my latest work dresses.

Day Dress:  Something that I am going to wear to be "seen" in.  My day dresses are made of tropical weight wool or reproduction cotton. They have gathered, pleated or darted bodices depending on fabric and sometimes gauged or pleated skirts.  They are hemmed to about 2" above the floor and I wear them with collar and sometimes cuffs.  I also add accessories and either a sheer corded sunbonnet or a fashion bonnet.  I wear my day dresses for instructional presentations in classroom settings, attending church, visiting situations or events where I am sewing or doing other "not dirty" work.  Here's the same dress with the tuck to shorten the skirt let down and what I consider "day dress" accessories.
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« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2015, 07:33:16 PM »

I'm with Paula on the functional definitions and the dressing up/down of basic dresses for both categories (mentally classifying work "dirty chores", though Liz's article reminds us that this not always the case).  At present, my "work" dress is my oldest and least-well-fitting cotton dress.

Dana Repp
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« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2015, 09:45:20 AM »

I think a major component of dressing is like Betsy said, "Know who you are, what you're doing, etc." We are responsible for that piece of the interpretation and being a realistic as possible for the public. 

I have a problem with the over gentrification presented sometimes (whole 'nother rant) but realize that some of it is public perception. We live in such an overly casual society (ie: shredded cut offs in church and shorts & flip flops to a wedding) that when they see a woman wearing long skirts and petticoats they tend to think "dressed up".  I did a ladies layers presentation in Langley BC this summer and during the Q&A people were surprised to learn that the women they were seeing were not considered Upper class but from the Working class (fur trade). My dress for receiving guests that afternoon was not "Upper" class but a simple cotton day dress.

I think the great BBC presentations plague our guests into a misunderstanding of classes in the 19th century.  Hmm, maybe that would be a good presentation?


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters
Col. 3:23
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