Posted in History

Welcome to 1885

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From the Civil War to the present day to 1885. We’re on quite a journey together! 🙂

Those that follow my blog are already familiar with my debut Civil War series and are already anticipating my next project. If you’re new to the blog, you might have missed some of the great Civil War history that I’ve shared with my readers over the last 22 months. If history is your thing, and Civil War history in particular, then I know you would enjoy the various Civil War letters and other tidbits that I’ve posted. Feel free to indulge yourself.

The 4th Monday of every month is history week here and now we have a new era to explore! I’ll continue to bring you Civil War facts and letters but I’ll also start sharing some of the interesting points of my research as I delve into 1885. This is a new setting for me and I don’t know very much at the start so we’ll learn as we go. But here are a couple of points that I do know!

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By British standards, we’re still in the Victorian Era, which is good news for me since I’ve grown rather comfortable here. 😉 But here in America, we also like to call this era the Gilded Age. You can read about how each of these eras break down in my previous post, A Quick Guide to Common Eras in Historical Fiction.

And another major note is the style of dresses. I’ll be switching from the full belled skirts to the infamous bustle. I’ve forever been smitten with the full skirts, but what about you? Which is your favorite look between these two styles?

And lastly, as I study into the social issues of this time in history, I would love to take in as much as I can by reading fiction novels that also deal the era that I’m studying. Can you recommend any non fiction or Christian fiction novels that focus on the social issues of the 1880s?

 

Posted in History

A Quick Guide to Common Eras in Historical Fiction

If you’ve been around Historical Fiction for any amount of time, you would have picked up on keywords such as Edwardian, Regency, Antebellum, and Victorian to name a few. But what are these eras? How can you tell them apart? Is it possible to get a fairly accurate guess of the era just by the cover?
After spending years in a state of confusion, I set out to discover the difference between one era from another. And I’m ready to help you!
For my post, I decided not to focus on eras such as Biblical and Medieval. Biblical is easy to spot and, well, I don’t know anything about Medieval. Lol
I chose to focus on the eras most common in (English) Christian Historic Fiction.

So basically, what I found is that there are two different timelines: British and American. We find both commonly used in Christian Fiction.
While learning about both timelines was confusing at first, I managed to get the hang of things. I put together something simple for you to look at. You’re welcome. 😉

British Eras are determined by who is on the throne. It’s that simple.
American Eras…not so much. Our eras are based on wars and other political events.

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Now that’s the quick of it. Are you ready to dig a little deeper? Buckle up! Here we go!!!

Colonial, American Revolution, and Post-Colonialism:
Colonial technically only applies to that time in our nation’s history BEFORE the Revolutionary War. This is a time where the COLONIES was the main focus. There are a variety of Indian Wars that fall into this category.
Revolutionary War is the period of time when America was at war with England. That’s it. That’s all. In America eras, the wars always stand out as an era of their own.
Post-Colonialism refers to the years following the Revolutionary War up until the War of 1812. I’ve also found other names for this time period such as New Nation.

Here are two examples of dresses that we might find on the cover during either of these eras (Late Post-Colonialism styles will be shifting and not follow this style).
The most iconic things I’ve noticed during this era is the elbow or 3/4 sleeves on the dresses. I did see some examples where a full sleeve was worn but the 3/4 sleeve was very popular.

Regency and War of 1812:
Regency is probably one of the most well-known British eras and yet few people know what it actually stands for or how restricted the technical period is. Regency refers to the 9 years when George III was seriously ill and his son, George Prince Regent was in charge.
Regency is an interesting era in that it has adopted many works simply because it feels like it belongs rather than it was written, or set, during the restricted time period. The Regency era has such a style to it that it’s iconic all of its own and gathers other works under its heading.
War of 1812 is one of the lesser known wars in American history. The war takes place during the Regency era which is probably why it’s often overshadowed.
As for style, both of these eras are easy to spot by their high waisted gowns and thin skirts.

Georgian:
The Georgian period overlaps the Regency style and the style of 1830s. Those who write in this era WANT you to learn about this special time in history. For the rest of us, we’ve been known for mistaking it as either Regency or Victorian pending on the style. The early years of the Georgian period still have the look and feel of the Regency while the later part begins to look more Victorian.
Here are some examples from the 1830s. The skirts are beginning to swell back out, but most notably are the sleeves. WOW. Just wow.
*Notice the sleeves have dropped off the shoulder. This is a style that would carry on for decades to come.

Victorian, Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction:
The Victorian period is a very broad era and covers a great deal of change. This era refers to the years that Queen Victoria was on the throne. The Antebellum period begins before the Victorian but it’s common to see it listed under Victorian. Victorian is a great search term when studying life during the 1800s.
Antebellum is an American era following the War of 1812 and leads up to the Civil War. We normally think Southern Plantation when we hear the word Antebellum.
Civil War is strictly the years of the American Civil War.
The Reconstruction period is a time in our nation’s history following the Civil War where the south is being rebuilt and Freedmen are finding their footing. This is a very rocky time in our history, and books set during this era are normally full of strife.
The most iconic thing about fashion during the bulk of these eras are the belled skirts. The style of the skirt first begins to swell in the 1830s and reaches it fullest during the Civil War before shifting toward the back with the style of the bustle.

Gilded:
The Gilded Era was a time of mass immigration and industry in America. While not all novels are set in the north, it is a focal point of the era.
As for style, the belled skirt of the Civil War has changed into a slimmer skirt with a bustle on the back. This style takes on so many forms over the years but here are two examples of what to look for.

Progressive, Edwardian, and WWI:
Progressive is what it sounds, an era known for its progress and covers 30 years of American history. 🙂
Edwardian ushers in a new ruler in England.
WWI takes place between 1914-1918
Now for the style, there are several changes taking place. We’ll look at them one decade at a time.
1890 and the bustle is almost completely gone. Some women still wore them but they were fading out. Sleeves become the new focus. One year they are comically large and the next, they are slim and trim.

1900 and we’ll find that sleeves are being controlled once more and the skirts have remained slim.

WWI or 1910 and the skirts are shorter than ever before. You’ll notice a pre-flapper quality to these dresses in the samples below.

Prohibition and the Great Depression:
The Prohibition is a time in American history when alcohol was outlawed. You’ll also find terms such as The Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age.
The Great Depression is the era during the 1930s when the American economy had hit rock bottom.
As for style, the flapper dresses are well known and easy to spot and they represent the 1920s.

The 1930s finds women wearing short dresses on a regular basis. Unless the novel features a starlight, you’ll likely be looking at a homemade-styled dress in a pretty printed fabric like in the examples below.

WWII:
WWII covers the years of the second world war between 1939-1945.
The styles are beautifully feminine. It’s common to find the hair fashionably curled and the skirts knee length.

I hope that helps!! But why don’t we try putting this knowledge to the test? 🙂 Based on the covers below, can you tell which eras each of these novels are set in?

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Wednesday Review: Godey’s Fashions, An Adult Coloring Book by Dover Coloring Book

10Superbly rendered illustrations, adapted from Godey’s Lady’s Book, a rare nineteenth-century fashion magazine, provide authentic views of evolving Victorian modes of apparel — from lace-edged necklines and elongated bodices to fitted bonnets and extravagant bustles.
Thirty ready-to-color illustrations depict lavish dresses and gowns of velvet and damask; smart riding outfits trimmed with braid and gilt; an elegant cashmere shawl, children’s outfits; as well as hair ornaments, footwear, and other accessories.
A lovely collection that offers an authentic glimpse of what well-dressed ladies and youngsters of the Victorian era were wearing, this is a must-have for coloring book fans, costume designers, and cultural historians.

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I can’t brag on this book enough! I absolutely LOVE it! I’m convinced they created this book especially for me, and if you’re a fan of the Victorian Era, you’re bound to feel the same way. 

The Basics:
Images are printed on both sides of the page.
NO markers allowed!!!
Pages are NOT perforated.
30 Pages of beautiful gowns.

The Images:
It’s hard to say what I love most about this book. Each page is as beautiful as the last. There are no busy patterns or strange pages found in this book. From cover to cover, you’re in a Victorian Fashion Land. Lol Seriously, is there anything better? I think not!
The images don’t curve into the spine so coloring is more enjoyable. Another major win for me, is that under every image is a brief description. It tells you the year of the dress, fabric, and points out some of the stylish choices of that particular gown. Even with these descriptions, the bulk of the page is given to the dress itself. All 30 pages are blank and ready for coloring. However, on the inside covers, they included 8 colored images to help inspire, or guide, you as you color. The book includes lady’s fashions between the years 1838-1880. I find nothing here to complain about and everything to praise.

Samples: 

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Posted in About the Book

Sally’s Wardrobe

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The only thing that makes the movie better than the book is getting to see the clothes!

Lol Men may not agree, but it’s hard on most ladies when they’re left to their imagination where the clothing is concerned. Especially in historical novels. So I’m going to do you a favor and let you peek inside Sally Chandler’s wardrobe. Some of the following pictures were real pictures that I had in mind as I wrote a scene and others are just great examples of what I imagined her wearing.

If you missed Claire Harper’s wardrobe, you can view it here.


 

I want to show you two of the dresses used in the novels. The first is a dark blue dress mentioned in chapter 3 of In the Shadow of Thy Wings. And the ruffled gown is featured in chapter 16 in Where Can I Flee only Sally’s dress is pink.


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Another favorite from the novel is Sally’s peach ball gown featured in both novels. I had mentally designed a peach gown with white embroidery and sadly was unable to find a likeness for it. The close up embroidery work was the best that I could find to help us imagine what her gown might have looked like.

As lovely as the ball gowns are, most days Sally wears something much simpler. While she would wear day dresses from time to time, I actually pictured her wearing a skirt and blouse combo most often. Here are some examples of common everyday wear.


And just for the fun of it, I took Sally Pinterest shopping. Here are some things she selected. Sally tends to be drawn to layers of lace and delicate ruffles. Her color palate is all over, but she prefers light colored formal wear.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into Sally’s wardrobe. Did you find anything here that you’d love to borrow?

 

Posted in About the Book

Claire’s Wardrobe

222The only thing that makes the movie better than the book is getting to see the clothes!

Lol Men may not agree, but it’s hard on most ladies when they’re left to their imagination where the clothing is concerned. Especially in historical novels. So I’m going to do you a favor and let you peek inside Claire Harper’s wardrobe. Some of the following pictures were real pictures that I had in mind as I wrote a scene and others are just great examples of what I imagined her wearing.


Claire is a woman with a grand imagination. Her means don’t always meet her thoughts though. She’s caught in several scenes day dreaming. Here are the dresses that I used as inspiration for 2 such scenes.

3731Claire imagines herself wearing the 1st dress while having tea with her Grandmother Lillian. The 2nd she wears at a grand ball where she meets her imaginary suitor.


The reality is, Claire’s home life doesn’t require or afford her with so many fancy dresses. Here are the dresses that she’s found wearing in some of the pages of the book. The red plaid is mentioned by name while the others may be taken more as a likeness of what she would be wearing.

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The one night of the year that Claire could count on wearing something stunning would be the Christmas Ball. The made-over hunter green gown in mentioned in several scenes in both novels. I couldn’t find a green gown, but this is an accurate style that I had envisioned for Claire. The main color is hunter green and the bottom is a cream color.

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Since Pinterest shopping is free and fun, I took Claire out to pick a few other dresses so we can get a better glimpse at her personality through her choices. I often imagine her in deep colors like the hunter green or deep purple as her model is wearing at the top of this post. Here are some other Claire picks.

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I hope you enjoyed taking a peek inside Claire’s wardrobe. Is there a dress here that you’d love to borrow?

Posted in History

An Inside Out Look at Ladies’ Fashion in the 1860s

Before I share what I know, let’s play a quick game. I’m going to share some pictures of a lady’s undergarments during the 1860s. Let’s see if you can put them on in the right order. Just jot down your answers, then I’ll explain things further down the page. Have fun, but nooo peaking! 😉

A. Crinoline    B. Drawers   C. Corset

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D. Chemise    E. Corset Cover  F. Petticoat

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Have you had time to make your guess? Are you ready for the answer? 🙂 Keep scrolling…

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3031First, we’d put on B. Drawers and D. Chemise. Clearly these pieces could have been slipped on in either order, but if we wanted to split hairs over it, the drawers go underneath the chemise and could be considered the bottom layer. Also note, a lady would have worn stockings which are not pictured.


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Next, we have C. Corset

Since this piece was so similar to a bra, I thought it should go first, but it doesn’t. The idea during this time was to have as little contact with the clothing as possible. With the Chemise and drawers in place, the rest of the clothing wouldn’t touch your body aside from your arms. This kept your clothing cleaner longer since your body oils never touched the large elaborate dress.


33Then E. Corset Cover

The corset cover went on over top if one was being used. They didn’t always use a corset cover, but the purpose was to smooth out the strict lines that the boned corset gave.


34Next is A. Crinoline

Crinoline was the next layer to be piled on this delicate woman. The crinoline, while looking awkward, allowed the women to reach the desired shape with fewer layers. After the war, when the bustle came into fashion the crinoline changed its shape, but we’ll look at this in a moment.


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Then F. Petticoat

We’re almost done now!! The petticoat went on over the hoops to disguise the harsh lines the hoops made. Before the hoops were invented, women wore multiple layers of petticoats to fluff out the shape of her dress. You can often tell an earlier century dress from a Civil War era dress because they weren’t as full. The “cage” made all the difference. And finally a lovely dress to drape over all of that.


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So how did you do on that little quiz? Don’t be ashamed if you couldn’t dress your inner 1860’s self. 😉 I wouldn’t have been able to get them in order either if it wasn’t for purposeful research and a cheat sheet.

Our model to the side is a great example, but can you spot the 2 missing pieces?

This model isn’t wearing a Petticoat or Corset Cover.

Let’s look at anther example…


40The lady in front is wearing her petticoat while the lady in back is not. Notice how you can see the ribs of the crinoline on the lady in the back? Also, now that we know the chemise went on before the corset, we take notice of the shirt like piece that is layered underneath the corset. I’ve noticed the corset and white shirt look before in a more modern…risque…look, but I never knew it was so historically accurate. 😉 Also, notice that neither of these models are wearing corset covers. I want to show you 2 more fun examples…


37 After our talk last week about the changing styles, I wanted to show you a crinoline later in the century. Remember how we looked at the change from the bell shape to the flat front and extended bottom look. Based on the shape of the crinoline, I would guess that this one was worn in the late 1860s or 70s. Also in this crinoline, we see that it already has a cover. This helps the petticoat out and became an option sometime after the invention of the hoops. Sorry, I don’t remember the year. But look at this one…


21939Who would have thought this hid under those lovely gowns we drool over? I bet you’ll never look at them the same again!

I hope you had fun with me and learned something new. And if you missed the discussion last week on ladies’ fashions, you can check it out here.  Please comment below and tell me which of these garments you were most surprised to learn about. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in History

Ladies’ Fashion in the 1800s

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 We’re going to take a quick little tour through a lady’s changing wardrobe through the 1800s. This is not meant to be an extensive study, but I hope you’ll enjoy this bite-sized take on history. 🙂

1840s: This dress is an example of something that was in fashion around 1840. Women at this time wore multiple layers of petticoats in order to create the bell shape that was becoming popular.


291855-1865: In the late 1850s and early 1860s, dresses reached their largest shape. This was only created by the use of hoops or crinoline. Ladies dropped the layers of petticoats in exchange for a skirt with built in hoops. As awkward as this contraption sounds, it was a blessing since it allowed the women to shed several extra pounds.

In fact, the purpose of the wide bell shape was to make the waist appear smaller by comparison. Women during this time believed the best way to create a tiny waist was to widen both the top and bottom portions of their bodies. They wore pads (think of shoulder pads from the 1980s) on the sides of their chest to make their chests wider. Again, the idea was to make the waist look smaller by comparison. These pads were NOT worn in the front to fill them out in the top but on the sides.

28The picture above of the green-plaid dress with long wide sleeves is an example of a day dress. The picture to the right is an example of a ball gown. You can easily tell the difference by the length of the sleeves. A day dress has long sleeves and a high neckline for propriety and possibly even sun coverage. While  propriety wasn’t near as strict in their idea of evening wear. A ball gown is recognized by the low neckline and short sleeves.


251865-1874: By the end of the 1860s, the now iconic bell shape was beginning to change. This dress is an example of something worn in 1869. Notice the front of the skirt is flatter while the back of the skirt is larger. This trend would continue to alter.

215Fashionable women would say goodbye to the perfectly round bell shape until 110 years later when the shape reappeared in the 1950s.


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1875: It’s often been said that women are quick to change their minds, and our lesson in fashion certainly proves it to be true. This lovely dress is an example of fashion in 1875. The front is now completely flat and the bustle is all the rage. But this too will change in just a few short years.


2181880s: Here’s an example of a dress from 1885. Notice that the bustle is now beginning to slid off the dress. The bustle has an interesting history. Originally, it was added to keep help the dress keep its shape under the heavy material. In its early days, it helped the lady keep the image of a tiny waist intact, but as the years went on, it became more of a fashion statement. The bustle even disappeared between 1878 and 1882, but returned with greater popularity than before. Before the bustle faded into fashion history again, it would reach new heights. During its existence, the bustle took on various shapes and sizes. Here are some examples:

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1890s: The bustle stuck around for some ladies into the 1890s, but most of them were ready to send them away for good. Here’s an example of a dress from 1890. After the fling with the bustle, it seems that fashion is taking a simpler approach…but don’t be so easily fooled. Over exaggerated sleeves would rule this decade. Here are some examples: Notice how tiny her waist looks when set against those huge sleeves!


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2161905: Eventually, both the sleeves and backside would return to normal and take on a simpler look in the early 1900s.

I hope you enjoyed this quick little stroll through the history of ladies’ fashion. Join me next week as we take a different look at women’s clothing.


There are so many wonderful fashions through out history. Which decade are your most drawn to from the 1800s?
Which would I choose? I’d be honored to strut around wearing either of these styles(Yep, sleeves, bustle and all, I’m afraid!), but I’ve always been smitten with the large bell shapes of the Civil War era. In fact, it’s what first drew me in to this particular time in history.