Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And the Answer Is...

Thank you to all of you who sent in your guesses for my contest…I hope you had as much fun guessing as I did reading your answers!

The mystery implement is indeed a glove stretcher. Kudos to those who observed that a bone or ivory implement was probably not suitable for curling tongs...and I was impressed by the ingenuity of Robinoh's guess of corset bone extractor. But yes indeed, this funky little tool was used to enlarge the fingers of kid gloves...as Ingrid pointed out, the fine kidskin gloves popular in the nineteenth century were extremely snug and needed a bit of a stretch before it was possible to ease your hands into them.

Oh…and the winner of the contest? There were eight correct answers...and the name I drew out of my offical Red Sox 2007 World Champion baseball hat was Sarah Lindsey's. Sarah, I'll be contacting you through your Blogger ID shortly. And if you didn't win, don’t worry--I have another mystery object or two stashed away, and had so much fun this week that I'll repeat the contest with a new one next month.

The subject of gloves leads nicely into a series that Regina and I have been thinking about doing…an introduction to nineteenth century women’s clothes. When I say “an introduction”, I mean just that--a overview of what young women were wearing in the first half of the nineteenth century. We’re not going to get too technical--there are some amazing books and websites out there that can tell you all the details of how fashion changed from year to year and precisely how clothes were constructed and so on. But we’d like to give you an idea of what you might have worn if you were a young woman in 1800 or 1815 or 1830.

First, a little background…

Where did clothes come from, anyway? Did your fashionable 19th century teen head down to the galleria when she was preparing her wardrobe for the London season?

Uh, no.

Ready-made clothes sold in stores were a thing of the future. Even the concept of clothing sizes hadn’t really come into being yet. What our hypothetical teen would have done is pore over the magazines of her day looking at the fashion plates, then go with Mama to the drapers’ to buy fabric or off to a dressmaker’s shop--you’ll sometimes see them referred to as a modiste or mantua-maker. All her clothes--from undergarments to coats or cloaks--would be made specifically for her. Less wealthy girls might get last year’s gowns from better-off relatives that they would refurbish, and older sisters might hand down outgrown clothes to younger sisters. No Abercrombie. No Gap.

So keep that in mind as Regina tells us about what the well-dressed teen was wearing between 1800 and 1810 in our next post.


Regina Scott said...

Congratulations, Sarah! And good job, everyone, for the inventive answers!

Stay tuned for more contests in the coming weeks.

(Said Regina as she eagerly anticipates her own advance reading copies.)

Barrie said...

I wasn't in time for the contest. But that glove stretcher? It kind of looks like the tweezers we use to feed worms to our veiled chameleons!

Marissa Doyle said...

I would love to see a picture of your veiled chameleons, Barrie--the name makes them sound so demure and proper. :)

Sarah Prineas said...

I never would've gotten glove stretcher in a million years.

The word mmmmmantuamaker. Love it.