Wednesday, July 30, 2008

1860's Work Dress


When we think of the civil war era most often we think of hoop dresses and silk ball gowns. Yet not all women could afford the nice dresses. For the working class or farm women, they needed to wear something a little more practical than a bulky hoop.

Work dress resembled day dresses only the skirts were not as full. Under their skirts they would wear a corded petticoat or a couple layers of regular petticoats. The sleeves would be made to roll up such as the full gathered bishop sleeve. Women who did not have servants needed to be able to scrub their own laundry, weed the garden, beat the rugs and so much more.
Women were thrifty so they still wanted to protect their work dresses as best as they could so they wore pinner aprons. Pinner aprons covered the front of the dress and consisted of a bib that covered the bodice of the dress and a half skirt that covered the front skirt. It tied at the waist. Two straight pins held the bib up, hence the name, pinner aprons. Pinner aprons were easy to make and took less fabric than the dress.

For civil war reenacting and living histories the work dress is often called a camp dress. Women reenactors wear this style dress while they are cooking over the fire in the civil war camps.

My civil war ancestors were all Virginia farmers. They did not own slaves and had to do their own work. They were hard workers. So when doing living histories I love to portray a farm woman in tribute to them.

6 comments:

Sassy Mama Bear said...

I love hearing the history behind the clothing. We will see it when we go to the annual Civil War Weekend at Wade House here in WI.

Brittany E. said...

This is interesting, I never even considered what your average victorian woman would wear.

torasham said...

like the women dress...looks like very classic for me...interesting

melody said...

Well I'm doing homework and I'm in highschool and I was looking for stuff on work dresses. I didn't think it was going to be very interesting but I found it fasinating that they even make their own dresses, so I thought that a lot of people take things for grantid and we should be thankful that we can just go to the store and buy clothes instead of meke them.

melody said...

Well I'm doing homework and I'm in highschool and I was looking for stuff on work dresses. I didn't think it was going to be very interesting but I found it fasinating that they even make their own dresses, so I thought that a lot of people take things for grantid and we should be thankful that we can just go to the store and buy clothes instead of meke them.

Will A. said...

A great site! I'll recommend it to my friends

Do you have any advice for me re what a farmer from Tidewater might have worn in those days? I'm looking to portray a member of Burrough's Partisan Rangers from Princess Anne Co.

Will A.
waygarn&hotmail.com