Sans asked why we weren't in costume over the weekend, but we in fact were. FH whinges about his face being seen on the internet, so I've blacked it out to make him happy... but I digress.
This blurb is a bit like Pulp Fiction, the film. I'm starting in the middle (1820's), will move to the end, and then hop back to the beginning. Also let me just say that I will end up leaving things out as I don't have an entire semester's worth of time with three hours a week of lecture time available for me to give information. But it's out there if folks are interested in reading more.
In a Rendezvous camp setting, we are depicting a fur trading camp in the time frame of 1770 to 1860. We stop at the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression, War Between the States, etc..) because generally the only activity for female reenactors is the role of "camp follower." I'm certain you can figure out what that means. Needless to say it's not very flattering for most women and while wouldn't mind portraying it for a historical documentary once in a while, we don't want to be in that role constantly.
Now the time frame gives us about 100 years of garment history to "play in" and it also gives us melding of several cultures and their clothing styles. In the picture below FH is wearing a Cherokee Ribbon Shirt without ornamentation. The ribbons are quite handsome, but not very practical for everyday wear when you're hunting, chopping wood, etc. The fabric is a lightweight cotton, which fits for the 1820's and 1830's. If you look closely the color is a faded green and white, and is a simple checkerboard pattern. Commercial weavers in Europe were already producing checked and plaid patterns by this time.
Keep in mind that shirts during this time were considered underwear. But when you're on the frontier and your waistcoat falls apart, not to mention kept getting in the way, you don't replace it easily. And some men ceased caring about them altogether given that they were living and trading with Native Americans on the frontier.
[Side note, the Cherokee and other tribes in southeast had adopted European customs and modes of dress. There was a good deal of melting pot action going on... until the American government started playing dirty.]
His belt is typical of the time: wide and buckled to the side. It's actually his kilt belt, but it serves for this nicely. He made the knife in his belt years ago but only just threw together a sheath for it over the weekend. He's going to add a loop to the sheath so it can slide onto the belt. He's also lacking a belt pouch still. FH really needs to dig out the leather tools and get moving. ;-)
The strip of cloth looped around the belt is very important. It's a strip of "patch," thin linen or in this case cotton fabric that is used to load the firearms. When you load a muzzle loading firearm, the little chant you say over and over until you can do it without thinking is "powder, patch, and ball." The fabric actually gets loading into the barrel as part of the shot. It's kept in a strip about an inch wide and tied to the belt. When you need a strip, the hunter sets the butt of his firearm on the ground, loads his powder, than sets the strip over the barrel and cuts about an inch off the length while setting the ball in place. This keeps tiny bits of fabric from flying thither and yon.
He pants aren't precisely period in this picture. There was denim fabric then and it was being made into pant. But the pants would not have pockets. That's why his shirt is long. It covers the pockets nicely. I have to make him some pants soon, but for now this works.
Longer pants were being worn in the 1820's, especially along the "frontier" in western Virgina and Kentucky. The handsome knee length trews with extremely tall stockings didn't work well in "uncivilized" parts. They were easily torn and didn't protect well from certain natural elements... like brambles and thorns. If I had thought quicker, he would have gartered his pants at the knee with strips of leather. I will be getting some small buckles in the near future to make him "proper" garters... at least from a "white man's" view of proper. Native men just tied leather strips at their knees to hold leggings in place. And speaking of leggings...
Another option was sometimes adopted from various Native American tribes. The breechcloth and leggings combination.
If you click on the picture to make it larger you can see the leather legging detail. The breechcloth is designed to cover one's privates and behind, while the leather protects your legs. Mr. Aday is wearing an apron panel, which is beautifully decorated in the front. However I don't have a picture of his front. FH took these. There was no way on this Green Earth I was walking to the rifle range in a skirt. Remember what I said about brambles and thorns? Yeah.
Foot wear depended heavily on what you could afford, what was available, and if you had to make it yourself. Back east there were more cobblers and if you could afford boots, you could get them. On the frontier once your boots worn out, you might switch to moccasins. The style of moccasin varied by region.
As time progressed through the 1840's to the 1860's there was a westward migration of white Americans. As "civilization" became easier to reach so did fashion. Actual boots were easier to get, as were wool trousers and fancier clothes, like proper frock coats. The styles from Europe from that time were adopted here, albeit slower. It did take time to bring the latest fashions over the water.
Jumping back in time to the American Colonial and Revolutionary periods, we see men's fashion still similar in the frontier areas. The example here is a painting depicting the capture of Quebec's governor, Henry Hamilton by George Roger Clark. The military uniforms of the time versus frontier clothing make an interesting contrast. Do you see the different hat styles too? Oh the coat that Clark is wearing is called a hunting frock and was worn up through the Mexican-American War. It's a variation of the typical frock coat of the time. But it's sturdier and made so ice and rain don't hinder your movements.
Mainstream clothing in the colonies (places near actual cities) are what most people think of when pondering this period. If you look here and here you can see some great photos that I don't have the rights to, but illustrate men's fashion nicely.
I think that's about all I have the time to blog about. I really need to actually get going with the sewing or else I will never get done.
If anyone is interested, click the following links to see some more clothes.
Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc
NativeLanguages.org section on clothing
Crazy Crow Trading Post
Oh and one more thing, when FH has to dress nicely in period he will eventually have an outfit that looks like this:
But there's no way I'm letting him run through the woods with embers from muzzle loaders flying around and tearing my hand sewn work on brambles. No way, no how. These will be for indoor and formal occasions. The rest of the time he gets to run around like the Cherokee-Scott-Irish man he is... leather, canvas, and cotton. ;-)