Thursday, April 11, 2013

Creating an Impression: An 1830s Outfit

Up until now I've mostly focused on the later part of the Victorian era, tending toward the '80s and '90s. However, in about a year (and yes, apparently you need to book a spot that far in advance) I will be attending a dinner cook-along at Old Sturbridge Village with my wife, my sister, and brother-in-law. I thought it would be a fun idea to dress up for it.

If you aren't familiar with Old Sturbridge Village, it's a living history museum in central Massachusetts. The village consists of 40 or so restored buildings, and costumed interpreters performing the crafts and daily activities of the early 19th century. Even though the web site states that the range of the village is 1790-1840, it seems that most of the clothing is from the mid- to late-1830s (I know that one of the primary sources for clothing is the 1838 Workwoman's Guide).

Dandys, 1830
from Wikipedia Commons
Men's fashion, 1837
from Wikipedia Commons
Jacket and trousers, 1825-1830
from Les Arts Decoratifs

Cossack trousers, 1833
from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The problem with researching clothes from the 1830s is that most of what you can find (at least online) for pictures are of fashion prints and clothes from museums. These are great if you want to recreate a dandy or gentleman, but if you want someone who will fit in at a farming village - that is, something beyond the wasp-waisted (and probably corseted) man in Cossack trousers with stirrups, you need to look a little further. I discovered the paintings of William Sidney Mount.

Mount lived from 1807 to 1868, and became famous for depicting scenes of everyday life. In particular to my interests, many of those paintings are from the mid-'30s. Now that's what I'm talking about! Next time I'll go over some specific points about the outfits, and make a list of what I'd like to make for this outfit, in a running series. Until then, I'll leave you with some pictures.

The Breakdown
William Sidney Mount, 1835
from The Athenaeum
Farmers Nooning
William Sidney Mount, 1836
from The Athenaeum
Raffling for the Goose
William Sidney Mount, 1837
from The Athenaeum

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I'm a pretty much self-taught tailor-costumer, and these images are fantastic! The theater I work with is mostly in need of Renaissance and Tudor/Elizabethan stuff, but if I ever pry them loose from those eras, something like this might be just fabulous!
    I I look forward to your descriptions of what these paintings are about,
    Nancy N