Posted by Marie Bernadette on March 03, 1998 at 11:42:37:
In response to Thanks + a laundry question, written by Carolyn B on March 02, 1998 at 20:15:44
Is this somehow related to keeping outer garments clean? (i.e, cutting down on the pervasive sweat and body oils getting into the clothes that are harder to wash and just washing the inner layer that comes in contact with the skin more often than the outer layers)
Yes, definately. The outer garments could be of wool or silk or some other such fabric that was difficult to launder, but the muslin or linen drawers were relatively easy to clean and did indeed protect the outer fabric. Men wore long shirts under their waistcoats and cutaways, but in the early 19th 'undershirts' were introduced. These were usually of a cotton knit and tighter fitting than the regular shirts. Later the undershirt and drawers were made as one piece. At first only younger men wore undershirts; the older men thought it was just a fad.
I think we look at them with modern eyes and think how awful it would be to be burdened by skirts, etc. and forget that people wore these everyday and really aren't going to put up with anything TOO uncomfortable.
I think pantyhose and spike heels are far more uncomfortable than my Regency gown! I do not have to wear that nasty nylon or spandex (which makes me itch) with a long skirt and my petticoat is comfortable cotton. Some 'period' shoes have a high heel, but not as high as most modern ones and most Regency boots and shoes are flat. So in some ways my Regency garb is more comfortable than many modern-day clothes. I can't run very well in long skirts, of course, and when on the stairs I have to hope some genlteman doesn't trod upon my hem and cause me to tumble, but on the other hand, the skirts are more comfortable than tight jeans (and after my gluttony over the holidays, all my jeans are too tight!) Of course, properly fitting pants allow much more ease of movement. The only other consideration is that one must be very careful around campfires. I have heard that some re-enactors wet the hems of their skirts when cooking over an open fire.
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