Friday, February 27, 2015

City Girl, Country Girl, 1866 Style

As you can probably guess by the pictures we post, Marissa and I are rather fascinated with the clothing our heroes and heroines might have worn in the nineteenth century. So as I began plotting my Frontier Bachelor series, I eagerly perused fashion pages from magazines dating from 1865 and 1866.  Those wide skirts, so different from the styles of the early 1800s, left lots of room for embellishment.  Take these beauties, for example:

But as I turned to writing the scenes, I quickly realized that the full-skirted gowns so prevalent in the magazines were simply impossible in the situations my heroines faced.  For example, try wearing any of these when traversing the narrow byways of a sailing ship. 

And where in a frontier cabin would you fit any of these little ensembles?  I think you’d struggle to even get one through the door! 

Then there’s the sleeping arrangements.  Some cabins had nothing more than an iron ladder reaching up to the sleeping loft.  You’d knock over half the furnishings and give your companions quite a view.

So what did ladies wear on the frontier?  Things that were far more practical.  Like this.

And this.

As you can see, my fashion expectations had to change when my East Coast heroines ventured West.  But for those of you back East today, particularly if you’ll be in New York City on Monday, March 2, stop by Lady Jane's Salon, New York's only monthly romance fiction reading series, where Marissa will be reading from By Jove. The Salon meets 7-9 pm at the wonderfully atmospheric Madame X, 94 W Houston Street.  Click here for more info. 

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