Monday, September 19, 2011

Walking into History - 1890s walking outfit from your wardrobe or second hand shop

As part of the inaugural Festival of Walking Blue Mountains, Oberon, Lithgow Tourism, I'm hosting two walks, both will be held on the weekend of the 8th - 9th October and my theme is 'walking through time'. Images of the history walkers taken by Elizabeth Walton

Our wonderful trails attract walkers from all around the world and it was no different in the 19th century. The beauties of The Three Sisters, Mount Solitary, Leura Cascades, Wentworth Falls, The Valley of the Waters, called men and women from the smoky cities to picnic, walk, climb and explore in the fresh mountain air.  

But, what shall I wear?

"What shall we wear?" is a query rising from every channel of woman's life: for upon each occasion we must be suitably clad to enjoy its peculiar benefits.

From The Ladies Standard Magazine, April 1894, p. 98.
The basic walking costume for the 1890s 
The lady and gentleman below provide an excellent example of an elegant and practical 1890s walking ensemble. 

Lady: a long ankle length skirt of wool, silk or linen, a long sleeved white blouse in cotton or silk with leg-o-mutton sleeves, a wide belt leather or cloth, a tie, a fitted jacket in wool, silk or linen also with leg-o-mutton sleeves, a hat, stout walking shoes/boots. Under this she would have a chemise, corset, bloomers, a minimum of one full length petticoat, stockings of wool, silk or cotton with garters. 

If she was a Reform Dresser she might wear knee length voluminous trousers, or a split skirt [culottes] and would dispense with the corset.

 Gentleman: a three piece suit, either of linen or wool, often tweed, a long sleeved white shirt, a tie or cravat, a hat, stout walking shoes/boots. To be seen without your jacket regardless of the heat wasn't done, it would be like walking around in your underwear today. Underneath he would wear wool combinations, socks of wool, silk or cotton with garters.

 You can replicate this look with ease from your wardrobe and/or local second hand shop. 

The Woman:
  • Skirt: look for an ankle length A-line or gathered black or dark coloured skirt, wool, linen or cotton, but a man-made fiber is fine if that's all you can find. For Reform Dress choose a knee length gathered skirt.
  • Jacket: a short suit jacket to match or tone with your skirt, wool, linen or cotton, but a man-made fiber.
  • Shirt: a high necked white or light coloured office shirt, pin stripes are an excellent choice, ensure your shirt has long sleeves, cuffs, a stiff collar. 
  • Belt: a wide waist belt, leather or vinyl or fabric, choose a dark colour, a man's cummerbund is ideal.
  • Tie: A man's bow or long tie, or a piece of ribbon to tie in a bow at the neck.
  • Stockings: Over the knee cotton or wool socks, garters will help hold them up
  • Petticoat: another ankle length skirt works well, it will give you volume and a swish as you walk
  • Corset, chemise, bloomers: wear a sports or comfortable bra, undies and a singlet/spenser/modern chemise
  • Shoes: lace-up enclosed shoes, school shoe style are perfect, as are Doc Martens style, a small heel is fine
  • Hat: A boater is perfect but not easy to find, a wide brimmed straw hat will work just as well, you can decorate with artificial flowers and ribbons to make it more festive.
  • Gloves: A lady wouldn't be seen without them, white cotton gloves are fine
  • Parasol: A modern umbrella can be used, keep to dark somber colours, or white and lacy.
  • Hanky: A hanky to mop your 'glow' from your forehead
  • Pocketbook: a small handbag to carry your money, hanky, smelling salts, notebook, pencil and Eau de Cologne
The Gentleman:
  • Suit: A three piece suit, the suit you wear to work would be fine, add a vest if it doesn't have one. If you want to hunt for something in your local second hand shop look for a three piece suit, jacket, vest and trousers, tweed or linen would be perfect.
  • Shirt: an white office shirt, long sleeved, cuffed, stiff collar
  • Tie: A bow tie, long tie or cravat, choose plain colours
  • Underwear: stay modern, but you could wear wool or silk thermals if you have them, these replicate woolen combinations.
  • Socks: wool, silk, cotton socks, men wore sock garters, to replicate this, tie your socks up with ribbons
  • Shoes: lace-up enclosed shoes, school shoe style are perfect, as are Doc Martens style 
  • Hat: A boater is perfect but not easy to find, a panama, fedora or an Akubra work well.
  • Hanky: A hanky to pass to a lady in need

If you follow these guidelines you can outfit yourself well and walk through history with me on the 8th and 9th October as part of the inaugural Festival of Walking Blue Mountains, Oberon, Lithgow Tourism

1890s woman mountaineer

Perfectly attired for the outdoors

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