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To the Point (points-wise)

*squeak*flail* ouch.  Don't mind me; I'm just pissy because my arms won't stop being grumpy.

So, I've been having this discussion with kass_rants in my recent entries' comments sections (previous two entries - we got a bit silly by the end) about petticoat fastenings, as a result of her asking where I got my info. Having to admit that it's speculative, and based on what the Jamestown Settlement costume department told me years ago, has made me admit that I now have to paw through all my books in a vain attempt to actually find something concrete.

Kass and I have been bouncing ideas off each other since yesterday, and my current working theory (subject to amendment) is that women's petticoat fastenings laced closed with points, rather than using sewn-on tape ties. I've been using this method for a while, and it works champion, but I have no proof to back it up (other than "J'town done told me, and it makes sense"), since we (so far - anyone feel like robbing some graves?) don't have a petticoat from that era with an original waistband.  Kass points out that it makes theoretical sense that women's clothing fastenings would echo men's of the same era.

Working from this, we theorized that since the petticoat was held up around the rest of the waist by points attached to the bodies/doublet (this is pretty much a known thing; both surviving boned bodies have lacing holes at the waist on the side and in the back, and there are quite a few pictures of women with visible points at the waistband of their doublets), then maybe the opening of the skirt is not actually laced to itself, but laced together with the lacing that goes up the front (or back) of the bodies - so that it does something like this:

(1.  Diagram of one side of lacing; inside view.)   (2.  Diagram lineup of petticoat and bodies; circled in red.)

As far as making the style work, it fits all the criteria; it makes use of the lacing holes around the bodies, and doesn't cause any lumps or awkward visible points. And it uses points - which we, as re-enactors, do not do nearly enough (barely at all - even I've only done two outfits with working points, one for me, and one for Bob).

So, I did a search last night of about a quarter of my books (all I had time for), mainly the Dutch ones, since they show the most middle and lower class people.

They're all wearing aprons, dammit. This is not helpful.

They did often wear petticoat bodies, but they didn't always; the beautiful Jan Steen painting "Couple in a Bed" shows a gorgeous silk taffeta skirt and separate bodies lying on a chair, and the separate (and very narrow, btw) waistband of the petticoat can clearly be seen (but no fastenings, dammit). Yes, this is 1668-1670, I know, but the petticoat and bodies are very similar to the same pettiocat and bodies they were wearing a half century before. There really aren't many 16th century pictures of people en dishabille, with their clothes artfully strewn about, except for the Countess of Southampton - everyone else naked or half naked is usually a symbolic/deity/Biblical figure.

However, our Countess is quite helpful, in her own way - you can clearly see the points on her bodies, and they come around at roughly waist height (taking into account the long waist that was fashionable at that time, and which would have been exaggerated by the painter), until the bodies start to come to a point. In the center front, there are no visible points, so it might be possible that the clearly separate petticoat she is wearing underneath the bodies is fastened by lacing the skirt to the bodies with the front lace.

There are also some engravings by Crispijn de Passe the Elder, which, while not really showing lacing points, do seem to show bodies that are separate from the petticoats, such as in this engraving, where the apron really seems to be tucked under the bodies, as the front point on the left side is sitting over the apron.

It's a theory, anyway. I need to do a lot more research, as I've barely scratched the surface of available images, and still have a bunch of my own books to peruse. 

Good times, eh?  I definitely want to put petticoat points on my bodies that I'm wearing this weekend (I can do them tonight) - I've already done a wild point sleeve treatment that leaves me with a bunch of white bows at the shoulder, so this shouldn't be too much more outrageous.  I'll take pictures anyway.


Apr. 30th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
That's gonna be so terrific! I'm also going to write something of the sort on my website (carefully not duplicating your website, but hopefully adding to it in a useful way).

(Although, damn and blast you -- I'm supposed to be working on Landsknecht kit for MyBob this week and now I just want to remake all my petticotes!)

And then I think we should go all over the internet and whine that we stole each other's research and watch the website visitor counters go through the roof. *evil grin*
Apr. 30th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
I would *love* it if you also put forward your perspective on your web site! And then we can create delicious, delicious drama. *sporfle*

I know what you mean - now I want to go through my entire wardrobe! I must limit myself to the thing I'm wearing this weekend.

But I gotta tell you, I am so looking forward to not having my skirt inch down in front (the waistline is a little large when the bodies are tied).
Apr. 30th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
God, I love when stuff works! To me that's the ultimate proof that you've hit on something really "right" -- when it makes wearing it easier/look more like the pictures/more comfortable.
Apr. 30th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
This is actually how I came up with the tied coif theory - damn thing wouldn't stay on. 8)
Apr. 30th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, on that note: I fiendishly theived your coif research and added the theory to my Elizabethan Common Woman's pattern (along with a coif of my own drafting), while blatantly putting your website in the bibliography and scandalously thanking you in the credits to the historical notes.

I am just unthinkably evil, am I not? Oh, say I am! Say I am! It'll make my week!!!
Apr. 30th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
Evil like a fox. 8)

Thank you so much for that - spread the evil, evil love!
Apr. 30th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
Anytime. Thank you for taking coif research a step forward. Once I read your article, I saw that there was no substatiation for constructing a coif the way I had been doing it. My usual mantra -- "What Does the Extant Record Show" -- was flying in the face of the coif pattern I was using. Your method made perfect period sense and jives with the archeological record.

Brilliant! Brilliant my dear! Have a cigar.

(Now please go on Teh Intrawebs and tell everyone how horrible I am for stealing from you so I sell lots and lots of patterns and can retire a wealthy miser in a year and a half.)

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