Women's Clothing Standards
Clothing: Adult Women
1. Cotton, wool, or wool/cotton blend everyday or "work" dresses (matching bodice and skirt) in woven checks, plaids or stripes or in period prints with modest work hoops, corded petticoats or no hoop at all. Trim, if any, should generally be minimal and understated.
2. Cotton dresses should preferably have a gathered bodice, although fitted cotton bodices are allowed. (They aren't incorrect per se but they are badly overrepresented relative to their use during the War). NO pagoda sleeves in cotton dresses. Preferred sleeves styles are bishop, coat and "balloon" (one piece variation on coat sleeves which is the most common in cotton "work dresses").
3. Solid colored cotton dresses were comparatively rare and are discouraged unless you are very poor and have over-dyed an older print dress. Wool dresses were frequently solid colored and are encouraged. Wool dresses may also be in challis-type prints or woven stripes, checks and plaids.
4. Bodices and skirt must be of the same material unless you are destitute when you may have a mismatched bodice and skirt.
5. ABSOLUTELY no blouse/skirt or blouse/skirt/jacket combinations. Correct aprons (either pinner or half apron styles) and correct underpinnings are highly recommended. No visible modern underpinnings are allowed (e.g. wear drawers if you wear a hoop!) Unless you are portraying an extremely poor person, either a corset or working stay is required. If you do not wear a corset or stay, you may NOT wear a modern bra. Split drawers of period construction are highly recommended for very practical reasons due to the lack of facilities at our more remote venues.
6. Outerwear (shawls, capes, mantles and coats) should be practical and of appropriate material and construction.
7. Period reproduction shoes and boots of leather or homemade substitutes, or reasonable facsimiles thereof (no "speed laces", thick rubber soles or other telltale signs of modern footwear)
8. Appropriate headgear: bonnets, slat bonnets, corded sunbonnets, quilted bonnets, knitted hoods. No ladies "day caps" out of doors except on older women (e.g. 55 and over). Please NO dressy fashion bonnets, opt instead for a practical, modest straw for Sundays (only if appropriate to your age) and less formal bonnets (slat, corded, quilted, knit, etc) for everyday. NO hats on women over 25 and they are highly discouraged all together except on very young children as it was a high fashion / resort look.
9. Correct period hairstyle- center part, no bangs, and hair confined at or below the nape of the neck. If appropriate to your impression center parted chin length bobbed hair with no layers is also acceptable. Hair nets, if worn, must be of correct materials and worn appropriately with hair properly coifed underneath. No reenactor "snoods" under ANY circumstances.
10. Period eyeglasses or modern contact lenses are permitted. Any jewelry and accessories should be in keeping with your socioeconomic level and situation - simple or none at all. If you're wearing a white collar with your dress rather than a neckerchief, you should wear a brooch of appropriate period type unless you are young enough to get away with a bow at the neck instead. AVOID: cameos with obviously modern looking subjects, such as the ubiquitous "ponytail gal". Good low cost options include: rolled gold or "pinchbeck" hollowware, gutta percha, bog oak, goldstone, agate and "French jet" glass.
11. Unless there is a scenario-related reason for not protecting the neckline of your dress, please wear either a white collar with your dress or if portraying a working class person or someone going about farm chores, a neckerchief. Neckerchiefs are underrepresented in reenactor "working impressions" and particularly encouraged. While there are some period images of women in high necked dresses without collars or neckerchiefs, it was unusual and we are seeking to portray the norm.
12. PROHIBITED: visible make-up; modern hairstyles, bangs, or loose hair; painted fingernails; sweatpants; nylons or visible socks; modern eyeglasses; sunglasses of any kind; zippers; Velcro; zippers; plastic buttons or jewelry; wristwatches; synthetic fabrics, stud or post earrings. No military issue items unless you have a specific scenario-related reason for having them, i.e a Mexican War veteran with a Mexican War canteen or a civilian who picked something up off a battlefield. No overtly upper class or urban "fashion plate" clothing such as Garibaldi blouses, Zouave jackets, fancy silk dresses, large hoops, etc. They are inappropriate to the classes we portray, even if otherwise period-correct.
We realize WTC's standards are very high and therefore anticipate those new to us will require a reasonable amount of time to upgrade. Our core portrayal is lower, lower middle to working class rural which we then tailor to the specific event being portrayed. Our base document for these standards was developed by AGSAS for the McDowell event held in the eastern US. We however made slight modifications in some cases in order to better suit our current and most frequent venues and to reflect our research.
We are a very active and engaged unit and are not prone to porch perching. It is for this reason that we highly recommend considering 100% light weight (dress weight) wool for garments. Wool sheds water and keeps one warm even when wet and is far more fire resistant than cotton. Even in the Southern California climate you will find it is very comfortable in mid summer as it is breaths very well.
Due to the above mention class of our impressions, we discourage the use of silk except in the construction of period appropriate rain wear. Yes, you should consider constructing one down the road. We are an all weather/all terrain unit and generally portray "rolling" refugees with little shelter other than a simple canvas shebang or lean-to at history heavy "campaigner only" events such as Camp Roberts and Oakley Tactical held in very remote areas of central California during the winter rainy season.