Mid-19th Century Clothing
Relevant inventions and historical events:
Commercial sewing machines – late 1840s.
Singer patents home sewing machine – 1851.
Crimean War – 1856. Military influence and altered trade patterns.
“Unfashionable” clothing was often worn for practical reasons. Old clothing that was still serviceable, shortened skirts for heavy work, alternative shoes, even bloomers. Frontier was often behind the latest fashions at first, but within a year or two resources would allow clothing to be more “proper” and up-to-date. The fashion plates would be modified into plainer alternatives stripped of many of the ruffles and trims. Economical one-piece cotton dresses might reflect the latest fashion plates only in the placement of the seam lines.
Severa, Joan. Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900. The Kent State University Press. Kent, Ohio. 1995.
Zeller, Karyn. A Reenactor’s Guide to Clothing and Fabrics of the Civil War Era. Revised 1997.