CLOTHING FOR CHILDREN
By: Meg Galante-DeAngelis
Infant and Toddler Clothing
During the Civil War period, it was customary for infants and toddlers of both genders to be dressed in clothing that was, at the least, very similar and, in most cases, practically identical.
A traditional clue as to gender of
children in period CDVs is the rather imprecise styling of hair. Commonly,
boys' hair was parted to the side and/or sported a top knot or top curl of sorts. Conversely, girls' hair was parted in the middle, just as was the custom of older girls and women.
Boys and girls both wore gowns or
frocks of some sort for at least the first three to five years of life. Boys
wore gowns and frocks at least until they were breeched (euphemistically meaning toilet trained, literally meaning wearing pants). It was considered improper for young children to wear clothing that showed them to be either
male or female.
The historical reasons for these
dressing patterns are both complex and fascinating. The angelic nature of
children, the high death rate of young children, and the desire to keep
children's existences closer to the heavenly and farther from the corporeal
world all supported this dressing style. Beliefs about what was healthy attire
for children were also
in flux at this time. Young children were no longer uniformly swaddled, or at least, not swaddled for as long. Clothing reflected the new belief that movement of the limbs was healthy and that it was better for a child to be cool in their clothing rather than overheated by swaddling, bundling and overdressing.
For purposes of historical reenacting, children under five years old, whether boys or girls, are most accurately dressed if they are clothed in dresses or frocks. But because the nature of what we know about keeping children healthy has, thank God, increased exponentially since the 1860's we make several concessions to modern health concerns and knowledge in the dressing of infants and toddlers. White cotton clothing would be most appropriate for infants and toddlers since the boiling of soiled infant/toddler clothes was best accepted by white cotton. Clothing of a variety of colors and fabrics would have been more difficult to keep clean.
Infant gowns should be long and the hem should fall below the child's feet. The long gown will hamper the child's efforts to crawl and may have been a way to keep young children from crawling off while mother worked. Once the
child is attempting to walk, the hem is raised so that the length does not hamper the effort to learn to walk. Infant/toddler gowns usually had wide, open necklines (sometimes called boatnecks), and short sleeves. These are
particularly comfortable for the children at the hot, summer reenactments. Sunscreen is, of course, necessary to keep young skin protected in these outfits. Some mothers prefer a style of gown that was more appropriate to earlier periods but provides more protection for delicate skin and is warmer in cooler times. These gowns, with their rounded crew-type neck, long sleeves and semi-empire bodice, are considered appropriate as we are concerned about the safety and health of our youngest reenactors. These gowns should be made of white cotton, bleached or unbleached muslin, or in a neutral woven 100% natural material.
Infants and toddlers would also have worn pantaloons and petticoats, both made of white, bleachable cotton. If your child is in diapers, the diaper should be covered with either pantaloons or a cotton diaper cover. Modern bottles can be covered by a bottle caddy - a simple drawstring bag into which the bottle fits, or tied into a period cloth napkin. Modern pacifiers cause us some difficulty. Some mothers have found that a tiny caddy cover also works with a pacifier. Most children who get used to using their bottle or pacifier with a caddy have no trouble with them.
Cotton stockings or tights are used with infants and toddlers (although tights are obviously not period, young children often need the warmth that tights provide). We also recommend white, cotton (unribbed, if possible) long underwear since even summer reenactments can turn cool in the evening.
Sweater and bonnet sets, especially sacque sweaters, are appropriate outerwear for young children and can be easily layered. These should be knitted with cotton or woolen yarn in natural colors. Woolen cloaks, no longer than mid-thigh length are acceptable for infants and toddlers. Zouave jackets are often seen in period CDVs of these very young children.
Both for their protection and to complete their impression, infants and toddlers should wear bonnets. Period bonnets are designed differently than bonnets of today and are absolutely stunning on children. Appropriate bonnets are corded, slat or pin-tucked. All three of these styles were worn by boys and girls and are designed to shade the young ones' faces. Because of the sewing techniques involved in their construction, each of these bonnets has a shape and body to it without the addition of starch. The corded and the pin-tuck bonnets have their "body" sewn right into them,
while the slat bonnet has removable slats that supply its body. The slat bonnet also boasts of a long bonnet skirt that provides shade to the wee one's neck and shoulders.
Infant and toddler shoes, as seen in period CDVs, come in two basic varieties. The first is a lovely mary jane type leather shoe with a strap that encircles the ankle. Although these shoes are seen in many period CDVs they are very difficult to find in our modern times. Short of having them made by a shoemaker schooled in the construction of period shoes, you will probably be unable to find these shoes. Do not use the cotton, Chinese import shoe that has an instep strap and a very noticeable brown rubber sole that some reenactors and sutlers suggest. We warn you against these shoes because they have straps that are unreliable and are not close enough in design to be acceptable. They also tear easily. The second type of acceptable shoe, and the shoe we highly recommend is the black leather or simulated leather ankle boot, similar to the boot that women wear. These boots wear well and are supportive of young, developing ankles and feet.
There are many wonderful, period appropriate toys for infants and toddlers. Remember, no plastic toys or modern toys should be used at a reenactment. Toys made of wood or cloth are most appropriate. Cloth body dolls with
period appropriate clothing, wooden or fabric animals or soldiers, wooden rattles, wooden blocks, a variety of musical instruments and toys of religious significance like Noah's Arks are appropriate. Please ask for guidance in choosing toys or finding suppliers of period playthings. Although many sutlers and toy makers claim to make period correct toys, many of these toys are shoddily made, and could pose a danger to infants and toddlers. Many are just not period appropriate.
For boys to do the most authentic portrayals they should develop a CIVILIAN IMPRESSION. Although dressing in uniforms is commonly seen in reenacting, most boys under the age of sixteen were not soldiers and did not dress as
soldiers. Most boys of the period would have been very actively involved in military play, but only boys of the richest families would have had specially made miniature military uniforms.
All boys who are not military musicians or active members of military units, regardless of age, should dress in age-appropriate, period civilian clothing. During the 1860's, young boys wore dresses, frocks and other full garments at least until they were breeched. This was sometimes up until the boy was six or seven years old. Many young boys in reenacting families wear dresses and frocks when they are young. Most little boys mind wearing frocks much less than their parents mind seeing them wear frocks. So, although it is most correct for these young boys to be dressed in what was considered in the period a unisex style, this style is considered by some in modern times to be a feminine one. We should be careful to remember not to impose 21st century standards on this 19th century practice. Small boys, age two or three and under should wear the period correct frocks and dresses. Remember, all clothing must be made of 100% natural fabric. There are, however, some outfits that are appropriate and make a concession to the modern parents'
sense of masculinity.
If a two to three year old boy is not wearing the period appropriate dress, there are a few options for what he may wear. The first, and most appropriate of the options is for the young boy to wear a semi-frock called a french blouse and a pair of matching pantaloons. Period CDVs also show young boys wearing what could be termed a kilt or skirt with the French blouse. These blouses are long (the bottom is worn to mid-thigh or the top of the knee), full (it is fitted under the arms and extends into an a-line), have long sleeves (made in a variety of styles - straight or full), and have
a diagonal front/shoulder closure. They are often decorated with a diagonal ribbon that appears to be a sash and are sometimes worn with a belt. Simple pantaloons of the same or coordinating fabric are worn with the french blouse. This outfit offers the look of the more unisex frock and yet is clearly a blouse and a pair of pants, making a concession to the modern gender linked tastes of some. The french blouse and pantaloons can be made and decorated to look quite military. For this reason, this clothing combination was popular with boys as old as eight or ten. Sporting a soft
fez-style hat with a handsome contrasting tassel, this makes a particularly stunning impression.
The outfit for boys (age 3 and over) that is seen in more period CDVs than any other is the buttonsuit. Worn with or without a jacket, the button suit makes a wonderful impression. The suit includes a waist banded, skirted, button up the front shirt with home made piping at the neck and button-side, drop front pants. Buttons on the shirt's waist band are buttoned through button holes on the waist band of the pants . The pants often also had a small, carefully placed convenience slit in the front seam to be used for toileting. The button waist makes this a particularly neat outfit for the
young boys who without the help of the buttons would spend much of their time untucked and disheveled. The buttonsuit can be made with matching shirt and pants, or coordinated shirt and pants. Pants can be three-quarter or
full length, according to your preference. CDVs show boys pants hems anywhere from just below the knee to at the ankle. This may be seen because button side pants can be made to be worn at different sizes just by moving
the side buttons. Younger boys, under seven or so, would have most often worn their pant leg length somewhere between just below the knee and mid-calf.
A variety of jackets are seen worn with button suits and other outfits. The civilian sack coat, with a small, rounded or small stand-up collar, may be worn by boys. This sack may have three to five wooden or metal buttons (these should not be military style eagle buttons). Sacks should not be made to look like miniature military uniform sacks. Remember, the most authentic portrayal for a young boy is a civilian portrayal. For this reason, it is strongly suggested that sack coats not be made in navy blue wool, cadet grey wool or any butternut/brown/grey jeancloth. This jacket can be made of a heavy weight wool to be used for a boy's outerwear for cooler events. The second type of jacket appropriate to the civilian boy's impression is the Eton-type jacket. This is a collarless, three to five button jacket without lapels. The jacket hem falls at the waist, or at the lowest to the mid-hip. The Eton-style jacket is seen in many period CDVs, worn over the buttonsuit, or over a blouse (what we today would call a shirt) and either side or front button pants. When worn with the side button or front button pants, both the Eton jacket and pants are often made of the same fabric, offering the look of a suit. The Eton jacket and pants can also be made of coordinated fabric.
The third type of jacket worn by many boys in the 1860's was the Zouave jacket. These short, bolero-style jackets were part of a military based fashion fad that fascinated men, women and children. Many regiments in both the Federal and the Confederate armies wore Zouave uniforms, styled after those worn by the brave Algerian Zouaves who fought in the Crimean War. These dashing, colorful, distinctive uniforms paid homage to the bravery of these Algerians and the regiments who wore them prided themselves in having particular elan, daring and courage. These jackets were often worn with full, short, harem-style pants. These pants were most often red, navy blue, butternut wool or cotton ticking (a blue and white or beige and white striped fabric used to cover mattresses and pillows). Worn with these
extraordinary pants, the Zouave jacket is usually red, navy blue, or butternut wool. The boys outfits were not meant to be exact replicas of Zouave uniforms, but were made as a tribute to the style. Wearing an exact replica of a Zouave uniform would be just as inappropriate as wearing a replica of the more commonly worn navy sack and light blue pants. Zouave jackets can also be worn with a blouse and side button or button front pants. Worn in this way, the Zouave jacket and the pants may be made of the same or coordinating fabric. No matter what the style of the pants, these jackets are often elaborately decorated.
The outfit you will see on most boys at reenactments is the period blouse with a pair of side button or front button pants. The blouse has a three button placard, and can have a small, pointed collar or a small stand up or Jefferson collar. A collared shirt looks wonderful accompanied by a ribbon tie. Boys should not wear this pants and blouse outfit without a vest or jacket. If a boy, no matter what his age, is wearing long pants, a convention that connoted the move toward manhood, he was bound by the conventions of men's dress. These conventions include wearing a vest or
jacket unless engaged in manual work. Sleeves should be buttoned at the wrist. Sleeves should not be rolled up unless engaged in manual labor. Another very important male clothing convention, and most often overlooked by reenactors, is the wearing of a hat, except indoors.
Many hats are available to boys and can help express the boy's personality. Amish straw hats offer a cool and shady hat alternative. Some boys prefer Mexican War style hats, while others enjoy a floppy newsboy cap. A variety of fez and turban style hats are a wonderful compliment to the wearer of a Zouave outfit. Period naval caps are also popular, especially in an outfit that has a nautical flair. A boy might decorate his hat with a patriotic cockade or ribbon. All boys, regardless of age, wear black or brown leather ankle boots that look like the adult brogan. Knee or thigh high thin cotton stockings without ribbing were worn, as were hand knit thicker socks in natural yarn colors. Warm gloves and mittens knit of 100% natural material are appropriate for cool times.
Boys have many wonderful play opportunities owing to the ever changing nature of the land on which we camp and the size of the reenactment or living history event. Sometimes we are in an open field, sometimes in a wooded area, sometimes near a spring or a pond. Occasionally, we camp in a fort, an historic village or on a town green. Each setting has its own plethora of play possibilities. Although reenacting groups have different rules regarding supervision of children, it is best that children never be left unsupervised or allowed to wander or leave camp without an accompanying adult. Most host units require children to always be accompanied by an adult.
Boys are civilians and this
impression must guide which activities are appropriate and which are
inappropriate. Participation in any military scenario, in military camp or on
the battlefield should be forbidden, except as part of a joint civilian and
military scenerio. We must always remember that although wonderful and
exciting, reenactments often hold many dangers for unsupervised children.
Boys must play with period accurate toys. This excludes many toys that are available from the average sutler. Cap guns, guns with metal parts, guns that shoot elastics, guns that make sounds or actually shoot projectiles, toys with plastic parts, plastic soldiers, etc. are all inappropriate and should not be used. Appropriate period toys include wooden muskets and pistols, riding horses, rolling hoops, wooden horses and soldiers, cup and balls, marbles, metal jacks with either a wooden or a vulcanized rubber ball, musical instruments (tin whistles, fifes, drums, mouth harps and
harmonicas), bilbo catchers, rag balls, tops, Jacob's Ladders, checkers and chess and many others. Boys also have many opportunities to become involved in a variety of civilian scenarios and civilian camp work.
One last important note: Boy's button front pants are usually made with a three or four button fly. These buttons are usually difficult to button and unbutton because of the size of the fly opening and the thickness of the material. If your boy is less than eight or has some difficulty with buttons, please give full consideration to side button pants. Porta-potties are too small to accommodate a mother in full dress and a boy, and buttoning difficulties can cause embarrassment for a young boy who is accustomed to being able to care for himself.
A girl's clothing and accessories are dictated by her age, her physical maturity and her social circumstances. From birth until breeching, boys and girls are dressed in an identical fashion (see section on Infant and Toddler Clothing). The dresses, frocks and pantaloons of the infant and toddler belie its gender. It is often only a hairstyle that gives a clue to the gender of a small child in a period CDV. Both boys and girls wear curls and hair of varying lengths. Girls, no matter what their age, should mirror the hair conventions of their mothers and wear hairstyles with a center part. As with women, bangs were not worn by girls. If your daughter has bangs they must be arranged off the forehead and blended into the hair. There is no reason to be concerned about the length of a girl's hair. Period CDVs show girls with both long and short hair, so our major hair concern is appropriate styling. Hair was worn neat and contained, and was cut all one length whether long or short. Girls with short hair often sported hair ribbons worn like a hair band to keep their hair away from their faces. Girls with long hair should wear their hair in a braid or braids, rolled or in a bun. Long hair should not be worn loose.
Hairstyles were intended to make the face appear as round and full as possible, so hair styles usually featured braiding, rolls or curls that framed and accented the width of the face. For example, a braid circling down the sides of the head, is an appropriate and oft seen style, but a French braid that is placed at the center of the head and is braided from
crown to nape is not appropriate.
Girl's and women's clothing had very similar conventions in many respects. Styles were subject to age and social status considerations. Young girls' dresses were designed to button up the back, indicating their need to be cared for and helped in their dressing. The only exception to the back buttoning style is that of the Garibaldi blouse that was worn by girls of various ages, most often with an over-jacket and skirt as part of an ensemble most usually called a Zouave outfit. Young girls dresses were fitted as were the dresses of their elders. Loose-fitting "Little House on the Prairie" type dresses were not worn by girls in this period. It is both appropriate and decorative to enhance any dress's wearing life by using horizontal growth tucks in the skirt. Skirts for girls who have not reached the obvious hallmarks of physical maturity should be worn at a mid-calf length.
Appropriate girls dresses offer us a variety of styles. Probably the best patterns on the market for girl's dresses are from a line called "For the Little Ones at Home." These patterns help us reproduce girls garments most accurately. They are drawn not from pictures but from original garments of the time period and come in multiple sizes in each pattern package. These patterns are easy to rework to meet your daughter's measurements. Because waist size, arm lengths and wrist circumferences vary tremendously, measuring these before cutting a dress out will ensure a better fit and probably a longer life for the garment.
As with women's clothing, the styles thought appropriate for girls were linked to age. Still, there are some clothing basics that, with certain stylistic adjustments, are correct for all girls. All girls wore a chemise similar to an adult woman's. Because of the open necks and short sleeves of some of the juvenile dress styles, a young girl's chemise often had fancy, white work on the neckline and the sleeves. Girls of physical maturity wore dresses that were styled closer to the neck and with long sleeves. For these girls, their chemise was always unseen, with the rare exception of a glimpse under the lower neckline of a ball gown.
Some girls wore stays, a soft, buttoned-back corset with shoulder straps. These promoted a particular posture stance that was considered good training for the girl's future haberdashery needs. After physical maturity, girls wore an adult style corset, with it's more substantial support. All girls wore drawers, or pantaloons and petticoats. These were the same as those worn by adult women, although before physical maturity were usually buttoned to the girl's stays. The drawers and petticoats should be mid-calf length. Although we might see a hint of the petticoat and pantaloons below the girl's dress they were not worn in the "Little Bo Peep" fashion, where several inches of each hang below the hem of the dress. Collars were worn by girls after maturity; younger girls often had whitework or lace sewn to the edge
of their necklines. Remember, all underpinnings are made of white, 100% natural fabrics.
Playing in hoops is very difficult. In the CDVs of young girls we often see the absence of hoops but not the absence of skirt support. Corded or stick-out petticoats allow some fullness for the skirt and are encouraged as an appropriate alternative to hoops. Because corded petticoats are considered underskirts and not underpinnings, these may be made of a muted single color, woven cotton. Hoops can be worn as part of a "dressy" portrayal, but remember that there is little real reason for being very dressed up and near a battle.
Girls' dresses also changed with the advent of maturity. Girls who have not yet reached maturity have a number of styles of dresses from which to choose. The High Garibaldi dress offers a jewel neckline and long sleeves with a buttoning cuff. Its bodice is fitted and completed with a waistband that accentuates the natural waist. Another style of dress that is worn by many appropriately dressed young reenactresses is the Boat Neck. Made with either long or short sleeves, this style dress is frequently seen in period CDVs. This dress was worn by young boys before they were breeched and by girls from infancy to early teens. The boat neck features a round, open neck with a yoked bodice. The bodice is full and gathered at the yoke and the belted waist. The skirts of both the High Garibaldi and the Boat Neck dresses often sported horizontal growth tucks and were intended to be of mid calf length. Growth tucks in the skirt are seen in many period CDVs. As a young girl grew taller, the growth tucks were removed to allow her to get
extended wear from each garment. Discolorations in the skirt caused by the stitching and folding of the growth tuck could be covered by decorative ribbon or fabric. As is always appropriate, these dresses are made from 100%
natural fabrics. Woven cottons, in natural colors, or printed cottons in geometric designs are appropriate fabric choices for these dresses and seem to hold up best in the field.
The Zouave craze in the 1860's had reached its peak. These outfits paid tribute to the style and elan of the Algerian soldiers who fought in the Crimean War. Known for their bravery and esprit d'corps, the Zouaves wore colorful and dashing uniforms. Although everyone fell under the spell of the romantic tales of the exploits of the Zouaves, the Zouave outfit is considered appropriate for children and young women (roughly defined as women under 25 or so). The Zouave outfits consist of three pieces and as an outfit of separates allows for the often unexpected growth spurts of girlhood. The bolero- style jacket has wide, bell sleeves and can be worn with or without ornamentation. The jacket most commonly matched but can also contrast the full skirt. The skirt was worn at mid-calf length. The Zouave
jacket and skirt can be made in a variety of 100% natural fabrics, including wools printed cottons and woven cottons. Two particularly common fabric combinations for teens and young girls were a jacket and skirt of plaid and a red or white blouse or a plaid skirt, a solid color coordinated jacket and a white or red blouse.
A Garibaldi blouse, worn in homage to the great military man Garibaldi, was worn beneath the Zouave jacket. The Garibaldi blouse is full and front buttoning. It has full sleeves and a buttoning Jefferson collar and cuff. They were often trimmed at the center front placard, on the collar and cuffs and on the shoulders, which often sported stylized epaulets. The great Garibaldi wore his shirts in red, girls often wore shirts of red or white. Remember, this is true only of young girls of the period. For anyone over 25 or so, white was considered the color of underpinnings. Therefore, the
wearing of white blouses by women over 25 or so was considered inappropriate and in shockingly bad taste.
Girls of all ages are also seen in period CDVs wearing Garibaldi blouses with skirts. Most often, these blouses and skirts are made of matching fabric. It was quite uncommon for girls to wear white blouses with a skirt unless a jacket or waist of some sort was also worn. A waist is the feminine form of the vest. As with all clothing of the period, the waist was designed to enhance the wide look that was in fashion. We often see young girls and even women over 25 wearing a white blouse and a calico skirt at reenactments. This is a particularly inappropriate outfit and should not be
Girl's who have reached young womanhood should wear workdresses. We sometimes hear these called by the misnomer, camp dress. Since women and girls did not "camp" in the 19th century there would have been no need for
such a classification of dress. Work dresses are one piece, with fitted bodices and a variety of appropriate long sleeves. Coat sleeves, pagoda sleeves and sleeves with cuffs are all appropriate for these dresses. They stand apart from the dresses of young girls in that they are front fastening. This change from rear to front fastening garments was one of the signals of the passage from girlhood to womanhood. The front placket more commonly closed with hooks and eyes. Sometimes the front closure was with a sequence of buttons. Sometimes, buttons were placed on the front placket but played a purely decorative function. Another signal of the advent of maturity is the lowering of the hem to one to four inches from the top of the foot.
Workdresses are best made of woven fabrics like cotton or woolen homespun, heavy muslin, serge, cambric, heavy linens or printed cottons. Only 100% natural fabrics should be used in any clothing to be worn in the field. Natural fabrics are warmer in the cold, cooler in the heat and safer than any man-made fabric when worn around open fires. Colors are also important, as some colors or color combinations would not have been used. Printed cotton fabric dresses were common in the period. However, it is often difficult to find an appropriate print among the printed cottons at your local fabric store. Most modern printed fabrics are inappropriate and so special care must be taken in choosing printed cotton fabrics. Some fabric companies have special lines of 1860's reproduction fabrics and these are beautiful. They are also often more expensive and primarily available in specialty fabric stores (such as stores that cater to reenactors and/or quilters.) Looking at these lines of reproduction fabrics and in the fabric reference books will help you to identify appropriate prints. You will notice that appropriate prints are organized, often geometric in nature and
that there is a large variety of appropriate colors.
Workdresses are simple, with little or no ornamentation. They have jewel necklines and most close with hook and eye front closures. Others button up the front. Plain wooden, or bone buttons were often added as a simple decorative touch. Workdresses always have long sleeves, which are never rolled or pushed up except while actively working. Young women of the period would wear their workdress for a variety of activities.. Workdresses can be worn with a belt, usually a fabric belt with a hidden enclosure and perhaps a false buckle or rosette for ornamentation. These belts most often close in the back, unlike modern belts. The bottom hem of the workdress should be no more than 4 inches from the ground.
Aprons are an important part of a young girl's everyday and fancy wear. They can keep dresses clean or provide ornamentation to make an ordinary dress ready for party wear. There are a few different apron styles available, again, subject to the girl's age and physical development. Young girls have three appropriate apron styles. The "school" apron has a continuous front and back bib that ties in the back. The "old fashioned" apron is a single piece of fabric with arm holes and a drawstring tie at the neck. The "party" apron has trimmed braces as the bodice. Young ladies who have reached physical maturity may also wear pinner aprons. The aprons offer girls the opportunity to play vigorously without soiling their dresses during our weekends outdoors. They should be made of 100% natural fabrics. Many mothers prefer aprons made in plain colored, and geometric woven fabrics as white aprons show a tremendous amount of dirt after an outdoor day's play. Many of these aprons can be made reversible, giving the apron an increased wearing option.
Girls who have reached young womanhood wear the same type of aprons as women. Two types of aprons can be worn. The first is simply a rectangle of gauged fabric, with a simple waist band and ties. The skirt of the apron is full and extends from hip to hip and to within inches of the bottom of your dress skirt. The second is sometimes referred to as a pinner apron. This adds a small, rectangular bib to the first style. It has no straps and is pinned, with straight pins, directly to your bodice. The top of the pinner may be a simple square of cloth or may be a more elaborate rectangle of
fabric gauged at top an bottom so that it now measures as a square. Aprons are best made of sturdy, non-white, woven fabric, which will show less wear and dirt.
A final note about "style" - The modern sense of what "matches " is very different than the fashion sense of the 1860's. While we might coordinate around a central color, bonnets, dresses and aprons should not be made of matching or commercially coordinated fabrics.
Shoes, as seen in period CDVs, come in two basic styles. Young girls can wear either style. The first is a lovely mary jane type leather shoe with a strap that encircles the ankle. Although these shoes are seen in many period CDVs, they are very difficult to find in our modern times. Short of having them made by a shoemaker schooled in the construction of period shoes, you will probably be unable to find these shoes. Do not purchase the cotton, Chinese import shoe that has an instep strap and a very noticeable brown rubber sole that some reenactors or sutlers suggest. We warn you against these shoes because they have straps that are unreliable and are not close enough in design to be acceptable. They also tear easily. The second type of acceptable shoe, and the shoe we highly recommend is the black or brown
leather or simulated leather ankle boot, similar to the boot that girls who have reached maturity and women wear. These boots wear well and are easy to find in most shoe and department stores. Try to find shoes with a square or
rounded toe for the most authentic look possible.
Bonnets and hats allow girls to express their personality. It was customary in the period for girls to wear head coverings outdoors. They are worn for protection and to complete their impression. Period bonnets are designed
differently than bonnets of today and are absolutely stunning on girls. Fabrics can be chosen to fit seasonal needs. Appropriate fabric bonnets are corded, slat or pin-tucked. All three of these styles were worn by women and
girls of all ages. Each is designed to shade the face. Because of the sewing techniques involved in their construction, each of these bonnets has a shape and body to it without the addition of starch. The corded and the pin-tuck
bonnets have their "body" sewn right into them, while the slat bonnet has removable slats that supply its body. The slat bonnet also boasts of a long bonnet skirt that provides shade to the neck and shoulders. Firm body bonnets made on frames with fabric or from straw can also be worn. These bonnets, although beautiful and appropriate, are expensive require cautious wearing and care. So, for reenacting purposes these may be impractical for young girls and the situations of most reenactments.
Hats, as a rule, were worn by girls, young unmarried women, and, possibly, young newly married women. Hats were worn straight on the top of the head. Those seen in CDVs most often have a relatively low crown and the brims were
about half the width of the crown as seen from above. Other small hats were also worn by girls. Girls also wore nets, sometimes referred to as snoods by reenactors. In period CDVs, some children are seen wearing nets, many of
light colors. Most CDVs show girls without nets. These nets must be lightly woven and of 100% natural thread. Period CDVs often show the fine net attached to a decorative ribbon, usually appearing to be velvet. Nets of the period, worn on the appropriately youthful wearer, were intended to frame the face and should be worn to crown the head and extend to the nape of the neck. Stretchy, acrylic, and or bright colored nets are inappropriate for anyone and should not be worn, even though they are regularly recommended and sold by sutlers.
Appropriate warm outerwear is essential for the cool mornings and evenings. There are several pieces of clothing that girls will want to add to the their wardrobe. As with clothing and underpinnings, all outerwear must be made of 100% natural fabric. Girls who have reached young womanhood may choose to wear a sontag. Sometimes euphemistically called a "Bosom Buddy," this type of wrap-around vest can be plainly knitted or tightly crocheted or made of a woolen fabric. Capes, especially full length capes, seem to have been a high fashion item primarily worn by girls of a higher economic class. A girl of lesser means might wear a shorter wrap. Practically, we are often in situations where a large, warm garment is needed. If you decide to use a cape, it should be a circular and not a gathered cape. Gloves and mittens, knit of 100% natural materials, are also wonderful for cool times.
Probably most common and most useful are a variety of shawls. These shawls can be simply and closely knit or crocheted, or made of wool, or woven cotton. They should be square, rectangular or triangular in shape. They may
be fringed or unfringed. Shawls can be solid, striped, plaid or solid with a recessed edge stripe. Women and girls of all economic circumstances wore shawls - some of very fine, very expensive fabrics. For most impressions, the simpler the shawl the better.
Children have many wonderful play opportunities owing to the ever changing nature of the land on which we camp and the size of the reenactment or living history event. Sometimes we are in an open field, sometimes in a wooded area, sometimes near a spring or a pond. Occasionally, we camp in a fort, an historic village or on a town green. Each setting has its own plethora of play possibilities. Although reenacting groups have different rules regarding supervision of children, children should never be left unsupervised or allowed to wander or leave camp without an accompanying
adult. Most host units require children to always be accompanied by an adult. Girls are expected to do a civilian impression. Participation in any military scenario, in military camp or on the battlefield is usually forbidden, except in the cases of pre-planned military/civilian scenarios. We must always remember that although wonderful and exciting, reenactments often hold many dangers for unsupervised children.
Girls have many opportunities for play at reenactments. Contrary to some beliefs, girls? play was not all quiet and gentile. Girls engaged in all the rough outdoor games that the boys played. Girls played all the games of strength, agility and endurance that could be played outdoors. Running, jumping, climbing trees, taking part in faux military drills and battles, playing town ball and other ball games were all part of children's play and girls enjoyed it as much as boys. Girls also have many opportunities to become involved in a variety of civilian scenarios and civilian camp work.
It is important for girls to play with period accurate toys. This excludes many toys that are available from the average sutler. Cap guns, guns with metal parts, guns that shoot elastics, guns that make sounds or actually shoot projectiles, toys with plastic parts, plastic soldiers, etc. are all inappropriate and may not be used. Appropriate period toys include dolls made of 100% natural materials, wooden muskets and pistols, riding horses, rolling hoops, wooden horses and soldiers, cup and balls, marbles, metal jacks with either a wooden or a vulcanized rubber ball, musical instruments
(tin whistles, fifes, drums, mouth harps and harmonicas), bilbo catchers, rag balls, tops, Jacob's Ladders, checkers and chess and many others.
Copyrighted Meg Galante-DeAngelis 2000