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The Civil War Lady
What they wore from head to toe!

                                


    The Dresses From the Inside Out

Women wore about 7 layers of clothing under their dress everyday.

The first layer would be their bloomers/pantalets,  which were made of cotton and would come below the knee or to the ankle, depending on which they were wearing. Normally, a younger lady would wear those that would go to the knee, the more mature and older women would wear them longer, to the ankles.

 The second layer would be the Chemise.This was nothing more than a cotton night gown that would be worn under the corset to keep it from becoming soiled by bodily oils and from pinching the lady.

 The third layer was the corset Corsets were not used to get the very thin waistline, or to give a woman a busty boost. They were simply designed so that it would give a smooth line from the waist to the bust of the woman. The were constructed of whale bone sewn into cotton. There were hook and eye clasps on the front and it laced up in the back. The corset originated in France.

The fourth layer would have been the corset cover or camisole which of course was made of cotton. It prevented the color from rubbing or fading onto the corset. Corsets were very hard to launder, so they tried their best not to get anything on them.

The fifth layer was the under petticoat, normally white, that was made of cotton. It was worn under the hoop skirt to keep it from getting dust and dirt under it and was worn to preserve modesty. The drawers/pantelets were split and any tilt of the hoop or gust of wind could reveal more than she might wish to be seen.

 The sixth layer was the hoop skirt. Hoop skirts were sometimes made of whale bone sewn into cotton, but were mainly consrtucted out of steel covered by cotton, making a simple caged crinoline. This is what gave the southern belles their bell.

The seventh layer were the over petticoats. Normally, during the spring and summer a woman would only wear two of them. But during the Fall and Winter months would wear anywhere from 4 to 5 at a time. The purpose was to cover the hoop skirt so that the bones wouldn't show through.

       Finally the blouse or bodice and the actual skirt.

The difference between a blouse and a bodice is that a bodice would fit snugly to the lady, the blouse was loose fitting. Different skirts were worn for many reasons. A lady would have a work dress or skirt, to work in around the house. There was no sense in messing up a perfectly good dress just for cleaning. She would also have clothes she would wear around the house, saving her much nicer things for times when she would go to a friends house, into town, etc.

Shoes, Boots and Slippers      

Everyday boots

     There were about three main types of footwear during this period. Women would wear everyday boots, without much heel. They wore these because there wasn't much heel, which meant less stress on the ankles and back. They would wear these around the house and to do work in. The second type of footwear was the "granny" boot, which became the "everyday" boot during the Victorian and Edwardian period. They would wear these into town or for afternoon tea at a friends house. The third type of footwear was the slipper. They came mostly in the colors back and white. They were flat, with no heel. The only time these were worn would be at a ball. These were much easier to dance in than the other types of footwear, not to mention more comfortable.


                                     

                                       



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