Ladies Attire Civil War Era | Proper Dressing for Re-enacting Ladies

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Ladies Dressing From the Inside Out

Women wore about 7 layers of clothing under their dress everyday. A properly dressed Civil War Re-enactor lady should as well.

The first layer is your Pantaloons,which are made of cotton and either come below the knee or to the ankle, depending on what you are wearing and your age. A younger lady may wear those that go to the knee, the more mature and older woman should wear them longer, to the ankles.

The second layer is your Chemise.This is nothing more than a cotton night gown that is worn under the corset to keep it from becoming soiled by body oils and from pinching the lady.

The third layer is your Corset. Corsets are not used to get the very thin waistline, or to give you a busty boost. They are designed provide a smooth line from your waist to your bust. The are constructed of boning sewn into cotton. There is a two piece busk in the front and it laces up in the back. The corset originated in France. Modern day bras and sports bras should not be worn.

The fourth layer is the Corset Cover or Camisole which is made of cotton. It prevents the color of the dress from rubbing or fading onto the corset. Corsets were very hard to launder, so they tried their best not to get anything on them.

The fifth layer is the Under Petticoat, normally white, that is made of cotton. It is worn under the hoop skirt to keep it from getting dust and dirt under it and to preserve modesty. The pantaloons are split and any tilt of the hoop or gust of wind can reveal more than you may wish to be seen.

The sixth layer is the Hoop Skirt. Hoop skirts are constructed out of steel or plastic covered by cotton, making a simple caged crinoline. This is what gave the southern belles their bell.

The seventh layer is the Over Petticoats. Normally, during the spring and summer only wear two are worn. But during the Fall and Winter months anywhere from 4 to 5 at a time are worn. The purpose is to cover the hoop skirt so that the bones don't show through.

Finally the Blouse or Bodice and the actual Skirt are added. The difference between a blouse and a bodice is that a bodice fits snugly to the lady, while the blouse is loose fitting.