Saturday, August 14, 2010

Civil War Fashion

War presented special problems for the world of ladies’ fashion in the Confederacy, as is best described in the words of General James Longstreet:

“While we were longing for the (reconnaissance) balloons that poverty denied us, a genius arose... and suggested we.... gather silk dresses and make a balloon. It was done, and we soon had a great patchwork ship.... One day it was on a steamer down on the James River, when the tide went out and left the vessel and balloon high and dry on a bar. The Federals gathered it in, and with it the last silk dresses in the Confederacy.”

For those interested in cultural history, researcher/historian Sarah Mitchell provides an entertaining, meticulously researched and informative look at southern ladies' Civil War and antebellum fashions 1855–1865, in her book by the same name. Mitchell’s book contains historically accurate descriptions of clothing, shoes, and undergarments worn by Southern women from 1855 to 1865, and a look at the ways that Southern women ingeniously kept themselves clothed and shod during the hard days of the Civil War. Sources include newspapers, magazines, letters, and diaries from the period. This work is complemented by her book on a slightly earlier period, Ladies' Clothing in the 1830's.

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