Confessions of a Costumier: Dressing the Community Leaders

Throughout the year we’ve been celebrating the unique clothing of the various peoples living and visiting Pennsbury Manor in the late 17th century.  After featuring the Laborers and the Servants/Tradespeople, we can highlight the Community Leaders! 

This painting by Matthijs Naiveu, “The Cloth Shop,” 1709 depicts two different couples. The couple in the foreground is obviously from a wealthy and aristocratic background. The business owners in the background have a more limited but substantial position in the community. Their clothing modeled the rich textiles they might sell.

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17th-Century Fashion Show!

In less than 3 weeks, we will have a very exciting event for all members of The Pennsbury Society: a 17th-Century Fashion Show!

 One of the benefits of membership in The Pennsbury Society is access to exclusive programs here at Pennsbury Manor.  On Sunday, April 22nd at 2:00pm, our second program of 2012 will take a look at 17th-Century Fashions in England and the Colonies.   Staff member and residential costume historian, Hannah Howard, will be sharing all her knowledge on the styles of William Penn’s time, including original artifacts, paintings, and drawings of the era.  The program will finish with a Fashion Show of Pennsbury’s clothing collection and discussion of how fashion changed depending on someone’s role in society, with outfits modeled by our very own volunteers!

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pennsbury Manor is a state historic site, but we owe a lot of our program funding to our not-for profit support group, The Pennsbury Society.   The funds they raise go to support our educational and specialty programs, including our wonderful Period Clothing Collection!  If you haven’t yet become a member of the Pennsbury Society, consider joining and taking advantage of our unique events and opportunities.  For more information, please stop by the Visitor Center or see our website: http://www.pennsburymanor.org/support/membership-opportunities/ 

 

Confessions of a Costumier: Clothing Diversity

It is so EASY to get caught up in creating the ULTIMATE historical ensemble.  We worry about perfecting every detail, down to the smallest buttons and buckles.  When costumiers get so caught up in recreating one outfit, it’s easy to forget just how diverse the clothing options actually were!  We can’t just recreate one look (as we have done here) and think it will work for all people of all levels in society.  Think about the modern world – we can tell a lot about a person’s job or life based on their clothing.  Business men and women dress differently than artists or plumbers or teachers or politicians or… well, you get the picture. 

So it’s our jobs as historians to research how those same clothing differences played out 300 years ago.  We are developing job-specific costumes for the staff and volunteer interpreters recreating circa 1700 Pennsbury Manor, and working to increase our clothing collection with enough sizes to outfit everyone in the garments they need.  Over the next few months, I’ll be posting in-depth tutorials for the different ensembles, but in the meantime I wanted to give you a sneak peak at our work…. enjoy!!

LEFT TO RIGHT: Gardener/Stablehand (Summer); Basic Tradesmen/Estate Worker or Gardener/Stablehand (Winter); Supervising Tradesmen or Estate Caretakers/Visiting Businessmen

LEFT TO RIGHT: Gardener/Stablehand/Cook (Extreme Heat Only – Otherwise with Short Gown worn also); Basic Craftswomen/Estate Workers; House Caretakers/Visiting Women

Look for more details on ensembles and garments soon!

by Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator & Costumier

Confessions of a Costumier: Ladies’ Dressing Guide!

Many of you may not realize how much time and research goes into crafting the historical outfits worn by our Pennsbury Manor Interpreters.  These reproductions are all based on original artifacts, paintings, and sketches in order to honor the people whose stories we tell.  It’s a constant evolution, but we are working very hard to make sure each item (down to your pins and socks!) are as close as we can get to 17th-century originals. In many cases, we try to copy the same styles and silhouettes as real 17th-century people, as we have done here with this 1687 London strawberry seller:

 

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