Friday, December 4, 2015

Civil War Civilian Guidelines

The clothing and kits for all civilians should reflect their approved impressions; however, the overall concept is that of a rural Maryland/Pennsylvania town.  Unless you have been given specific approval to the contrary all clothing and accessories should reflect a rural Northern working class style.  This applies to both adults and children. 

As a civilian living historian, you must have the following to achieve the basic impression of a civilian in the rural Pennsylvania/Maryland area:
  1. Chemise
  2. Drawers
  3. Corset
  4. Underskirt/Petticoats/Corded Petticoat – Hoops are not appropriate for this impression
  5. Wash dress
  6. Shoes and stockings
  7. Outerwear and Headwear
  8. Collar/Cuffs/Apron
·         Wear a standard one piece dress consisting of a gathered bodice and attached skirt with gathered waist
·         Wear a dress with a coat or bishop sleeve.
·         Wear natural fabrics – l00% cotton or wool
·         Wear colors and patterns available during the period.  For home-spun choose a color that ranges in the natural dyeing category
·         Wear appropriate buttons – glass, metal, or wood or close the bodice with hooks and eyes.   
·         Hem the dress approximately, not more than 3 in. for a work dress
·         Wear proper underpinnings for the correct silhouette, and a corded petticoat instead of a hoop.
·         Wear correct shoes and  stockings.
·         Dress the hair in a suitable l860’s style – parted in the middle, chignon at the base of the head
·         Wear a correctly made bonnet – consider a slat or corded bonnet
·         Use hand-stitched button holes
·         Match proper fabrics to the era the clothing was constructed – example:  don’t make a homespun dress with Pagoda sleeves – this is incorporating prewar style with war years fabric
·         Wear correct eyewear for the period – contacts or period style frames

Things to Avoid:
·         Fingerless Mitts
·         Snoods
·         Sunglasses/Modern eyeglasses
·         Modern jewelry (except wedding rings)
·         Felt bonnets or hats
·         Wristwatches
·         Makeup
·         Nail polish
·         Synthetic fabrics
·         Machine stitched button holes
·         Plastic buttons
·         Garibaldi shirt/skirt combinations unless you are under age 20
·         Zouave jacket/skirt/blouse combos – if you want the jacket wear it over a one piece dress
·         “Tea” bodices
·         Straw hats unless you are under age 20
·         Bangs or any other modern hair style, avoid sausage curls on a grown woman
·         Modern lace
·         Snaps / Zippers / Velcro
·         Basket for a purse
·         Enamelware
·         Parasols
·         Wool military blankets
·         Two piece slat chairs
·         Military style haversacks
·         Constructing dresses or other garments without using a reliable historically documented pattern with proper fit
·         Striped stockings
·         Military style canteens

 Wash Dresses
  • The vast majority of women wore one-piece dresses with bodice and skirt of the same material, not separates.
  • Should not be a solid color, should be in period appropriate pattern
  • Jewel neckline, with self-fabric piping
  • Armscye should have self-fabric piping
  • Waist should fall right under last rib of your rib cage
  • Bodice closes in front with hook and eyes and should be lined
  • Cotton wash dresses should not have darts in the bodice, they should be gathered
  • Sleeves should be coat style
  • Skirt should have  hem facing and a hem saver of wool or cotton tape at bottom to prevent wear
  • Skirt length should be brushing top of shoe to ankle length
  • Skirt should be gathered at waist
  • The dress should have a white collar or White kerchief tied or tucked around neck in lieu of white collar for working impressions
  • White cuffs should be applied at the sleeve opening 1”-2” in length or undersleeves may be worn
§         Stockings should be white in color and made of cotton
§         Shoes should have broad square or very slightly rounded toe, low heeled, ankle high leather, side elastic gussets or front or side laces, black or brown in color
§         Slat or corded bonnet preferred over a fashion bonnet
§         Aprons either pinner or half apron, dark in color, possibly patterned.  White is only for light housework and not suitable for this impression.

Civilian Guidelines and Rules
The following guidelines help to contribute to everyone’s enjoyment and apply 24 hours a day at events, whether visitors are present or not.

  • Stay in period dress the entire duration of the event
  • No modern items are to be seen at any time, this includes, but not limited to soda cans, plastic, modern food, coolers, etc. 
  • In most situations, there is a feasible, period way of doing things without resorting to a modern solution.  Sometimes the period method or items is more effective than its modern counterpart.  Part of the learning experience of living history is to experience as many aspects of daily life in the era as possible.  When in doubt, seek a period solution.
  • Avoid, when possible, the use of modern items of any kind, with the exception on medical and hygiene necessities.
  • No nail polish, modern makeup, obviously modern eyeglasses, hairstyles or other obvious farb distractions.  If you have non-period body piercings, leave the body jewelry at home. 
  • Children must also be dressed in age appropriate period civilian attire.  No modern toys are allowed
  • Any furniture and material culture items used should be of a period appropriate style, whether reproduction or original. 
  • Event rules are to be obeyed at all times.
Civilians at Monterey Pass where inn keepers or farmers NO MILITARY ITEMS WORN BY CIVILIAN MEN
A good summer impression.

Jacket: Linen jacket (summer) Wool flannel (winter) or over shirt in its place.

Waist coat: Any civilian pattern with polished cotton back.

Neckwear: A cotton neckerchief is a good item to wear if you're working in the field or on the farm. For a more dresser, a necktie (sort of a bow tie) is always great to wear when you're wearing a sackcoat. 

Trousers: Cotton, cassimere or wool trousers or overalls.

Headgear: Slouch hat (straw or wool) or wheel cap. No modern day slouch hats or Amish hats.

Shirt: Documented civilian pattern made from cotton or plain white.

Shoes: Civilian boots or work shoes (Brogans are fine).

Belt: Leather belt in black, brown or natural complete with a roller buckle.

Additional items: Market Wallet to carry items to and from town. Wallet, watch, and basically anything that a male civilian would have carried on a day to day basis.

A well researched working impression.

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