Dressing up a New England potter from 1820 ...
No, I am not a Princess....
This is a real problem. I have found wonderful web sites on fashion of this time period. Late "Regency"? Found some wonderful blogs about dressing in America in Pilgrim days, Colonial times, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian and 1900's dress to. But all these are the fashionable, "I want to be a princess and go to balls" fashion.
What about the peasants? What about the shop keepers, the tradesmen and the working class? One problem is that there were no photographs in the early 1800's. If there were, how many people would get photographed in their street clothes? The really poor would not be photographed at all. So this leaves the painters and illustrators of the day.
Another problem is that the poor didn't pack away their clothes in trunks to be cherished and passed down to future generations. They were worn, worn out, cut down for children and then used for rags before completely rotting on the compost pile. How many people today keep their old underwear? Occasionally pajamas or slips get saved and packed away.
To the left is an old flannel slip with red wool hand embroidery.
The tucks, hand stitching, knitted trims, banding and buttons are wonderful to look at and a good source for special features to be added to reproductions. But the are still to late for the time period I am looking for.
So what would a potter in 1820 Connecticut be wearing? When not getting muddy and dirty with the pottery work, she would be slopping hogs, butchering chickens, cooking, washing theses clothes with inferior detergents, scrubbing and mucking stalls. I can see myself dressing up in my one nice dress for Sunday church, coming home to make dinner for my 13 children and husband and maybe a neighbor or two, and some work hands. After washing dishes and pots, I would sit down with my knitting needles or needle and thread and work on mittens, a quilt or a new slip for one of my girls like the above.
I have heard one might have two dresses one to wash and one to wear while the other was being washed. Lucky girls had a third dress saved for Sunday. Washing you and your clothes might happen once a week, so you would be rather yucky most of the time. But so was the rest of your family, so you probably didn't notice it.
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