Thrilled to have guest blogger and friend, historical writer Cathy Richmond.
Susannah had long ago given up on marriage. So when her parents died and her pastor sent her west to marry his brother, she wasn’t thinking like a new bride. Her mindset was that of a grieving daughter, bound by strict rules of mourning to wear black. Jesse, her new husband, asked her to do a lot of changing, including her clothes. Their first Sunday together, he said, “I’d hoped celebrating our marriage would outweighmourning your folks.”
Early drafts of Spring for Susannah had her changing into a calico dress. But when my publisher Thomas Nelson chose this dress for the cover, I wrote it into this first Sunday scene. The cover captures Susannah and Jesse’s emotional distance – his frustration
and her reserve.
So what do you need to know about dressing historical
- 1. Clothing, including underwear, must be appropriate for the time period. Hairstyles, hats, and accessories changed, too. The 1870s, when Spring for Susannah was set, featured bustles, narrow sleeves, and lots of trimmings.
- 2. Socioeconomic pressures dictated clothing. White wedding dresses were available for wealthy women in the 1880s, but less well-to-do Laura Ingalls Wilder married in a brown dress that became her Sunday-best.
- Regional styles prevailed. During the hoop-skirt era of the 1850s and 60s, Southern women wore wider hoops to keep heavy fabric away from their bodies. Women from small towns, with only one store, might all wear dresses made from the same fabric.
My go-to resources include:
American Victorian Costume by Priscilla Harris Dalrymple
Victorian Fashions and Costume from Harper’s Bazar by Stella Blum
The History of Underclothes by C & P Cunnington
Museums – But most display fancy clothes from wealthy people, not everyday wear.
Reenactors and docents – Most love to share from their extensive research.
Check out Cathy’s books at: www.CatherineRichmond.com