Civil War female fashions from movies.

major bill

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#1
In another thread I was discussing the Civil War volume of Costume & Fashion Source Books by Karen Tashek. In it she used both Godey's Lady Book color images as well as photos from Civil War movies. So this made me wonder just how accurate most women fashions are in Civil War Movies.

Were the women fashions seen in Gone With the Wind and Cold Mountain equally accurate?
 

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Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#6
In another thread I was discussing the Civil War volume of Costume & Fashion Source Books by Karen Tashek. In it she used both Godey's Lady Book color images as well as photos from Civil War movies. So this made me wonder just how accurate most women fashions are in Civil War Movies.

Were the women fashions seen in Gone With the Wind and Cold Mountain equally accurate?
If I had to compare the two movies for instance I'd say Cold Mountain did a better job with making more realistic costumes for women especially. You even see Ada's dresses become shabby as they should given she's in the South.

The below dress is very similar to something actually worn in the era.
f0ece9beb4dc46be6f6db4c52ab690ee.jpg


04f276d3baf07038a0318aa88202416a.jpg


I adore Gone with the Wind and I hate to admit it, but it's the reason I fell in love with the Civil War in the first place, well that and listening to Shelby Foote talk about the Civil War in the Ken Burns documentary :whistling: However the costumes, while beautiful to look at probably weren't as period accurate as the Cold Mountain ones.

I was always confused by the short versus long sleeves that were mixed together in scenes. I thought short sleeves were reserved only for evenings and younger girls and teenagers not out yet. Though when one views GWTW it's hard to tell what's going on and who's dressed inappropriately for the current time of day it is. Like below -

4d73491e5860cbcd3f53b966be5e924b.jpg

I think India is the only one wearing an actual afternoon dress...though I'm not sure they were still wearing the collars in 1861 as I know that was widely popular as far back as the 1840's.

This one of my favorite dresses from Scatlett's collection, but she wears it in the morning/early afternoon when Ashley departs for the station after Christmas. First of all it's December in Atlanta during the war, she must be cold with her arms bear, secondly isn't the material too fancy for day wear? Hopefully one of the far more knowledgeable ladies can set me straight.

c27d14ecff3c70e7387e23f8cd6e6f9d.jpg


IMHO some weren't bad...the mini series North and South they were bad...Leslie Down didn't even wear a corset. Very cheesy. :bounce:Don't even let me get started on the hair!
Loved North & South for what it was a cheesy Civil War soap opera :laugh: And my word the costumes and hair...oh and let's not forget the make-up too!!! I swear I remembered overly made up eyes :eek:

Speaking of hair, what's your opinion of Scarlett's hair? I always thought it odd she wore it down in the beginning of the film so frequently - was it because her character was only 16 when the movie/novel starts?
 

major bill

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#7
I am thinking of going to the Jackson Michigan Civil War Muster this weekend. There will be many women in Civil War dresses. What should I look for in dresses worn during the day? Perhaps I should take some time before I go and look over a couple of books.
 
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#8
If I had to compare the two movies for instance I'd say Cold Mountain did a better job with making more realistic costumes for women especially. You even see Ada's dresses become shabby as they should given she's in the South.

The below dress is very similar to something actually worn in the era.
f0ece9beb4dc46be6f6db4c52ab690ee.jpg


04f276d3baf07038a0318aa88202416a.jpg


I adore Gone with the Wind and I hate to admit it, but it's the reason I fell in love with the Civil War in the first place, well that and listening to Shelby Foote talk about the Civil War in the Ken Burns documentary :whistling: However the costumes, while beautiful to look at probably weren't as period accurate as the Cold Mountain ones.

I was always confused by the short versus long sleeves that were mixed together in scenes. I thought short sleeves were reserved only for evenings and younger girls and teenagers not out yet. Though when one views GWTW it's hard to tell what's going on and who's dressed inappropriately for the current time of day it is. Like below -

4d73491e5860cbcd3f53b966be5e924b.jpg

I think India is the only one wearing an actual afternoon dress...though I'm not sure they were still wearing the collars in 1861 as I know that was widely popular as far back as the 1840's.

This one of my favorite dresses from Scatlett's collection, but she wears it in the morning/early afternoon when Ashley departs for the station after Christmas. First of all it's December in Atlanta during the war, she must be cold with her arms bear, secondly isn't the material too fancy for day wear? Hopefully one of the far more knowledgeable ladies can set me straight.

c27d14ecff3c70e7387e23f8cd6e6f9d.jpg




Loved North & South for what it was a cheesy Civil War soap opera :laugh: And my word the costumes and hair...oh and let's not forget the make-up too!!! I swear I remembered overly made up eyes :eek:

Speaking of hair, what's your opinion of Scarlett's hair? I always thought it odd she wore it down in the beginning of the film so frequently - was it because her character was only 16 when the movie/novel starts?
I'm thinking she's close but not quite. Most hairstyles like this resemble the 40's more than anything, unless she would have put it inside a snood. Even then it didn't hang that low unless it had some sort of braid or twist up or something. Some of the scenes it was better...like in ringlets. But then again you never know...all I know is after 16 or so it always went up and never down. Unless your like the poor sisters in The Keeping Room when survival was number one, not fashion. Their wardrobe in that was very good, especially depicting the hard times at the end of the war.
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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I'm thinking she's close but not quite. Most hairstyles like this resemble the 40's more than anything, unless she would have put it inside a snood. Even then it didn't hang that low unless it had some sort of braid or twist up or something. Some of the scenes it was better...like in ringlets. But then again you never know...all I know is after 16 or so it always went up and never down. Unless your like the poor sisters in The Keeping Room when survival was number one, not fashion. Their wardrobe in that was very good, especially depicting the hard times at the end of the war.
I had a feeling those hairstyles were more of the era they were filmed in than rooted in the Civil War.

I've never seen The Keeping Room nor Ride with the Devil, now of course I'm off to check if Netflix or Amazon Prime has them! Thanks for mentioning them.

Would the issue arising from not having proper help during the hard times attribute to wearing one's hair down or is it a lack of supplies - like no hair pins or combs? I could so see that being an issue as when my own hair tie has snapped my own hair turns into a disaster :frown:
 

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#12
Re: the hair issue. My hair is almost to my knees. I can tell you that hairpins are a number one priority in day to day life. I may hoard them...and save all the broken ones...

Help is nice for long hair, but not necessary. I would think that hair wasn't the main issue then. I'd even speculate that it'd stay much the same--tight, pulled back bun. :smile: It's very difficult to loose all one's hairpins!
 
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#13
Re: the hair issue. My hair is almost to my knees. I can tell you that hairpins are a number one priority in day to day life. I may hoard them...and save all the broken ones...

Help is nice for long hair, but not necessary. I would think that hair wasn't the main issue then. I'd even speculate that it'd stay much the same--tight, pulled back bun. :smile: It's very difficult to loose all one's hairpins!
Good point...much easier to have your hair pulled back off of your face while working, probably did the unkept hair for "effect" of desperateness. Or in some cases, they didn't care anymore about how they looked they were so hungry.
 
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#14
I had a feeling those hairstyles were more of the era they were filmed in than rooted in the Civil War.

I've never seen The Keeping Room nor Ride with the Devil, now of course I'm off to check if Netflix or Amazon Prime has them! Thanks for mentioning them.

Would the issue arising from not having proper help during the hard times attribute to wearing one's hair down or is it a lack of supplies - like no hair pins or combs? I could so see that being an issue as when my own hair tie has snapped my own hair turns into a disaster :frown:
I LOVE the Keeping Room! A tad slow at first, after the carriage scene, but it gets going early on. VERY raw...no soundtrack accept a few fiddles here and there...just quite like the way it was back then and that pulls you into the era. Ride with the Devil is good too...more about the men than the women though.
One of the SCARIEST scenes ever! The Yankees are right outside!!!

 
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#15
I had a feeling those hairstyles were more of the era they were filmed in than rooted in the Civil War.

I've never seen The Keeping Room nor Ride with the Devil, now of course I'm off to check if Netflix or Amazon Prime has them! Thanks for mentioning them.

Would the issue arising from not having proper help during the hard times attribute to wearing one's hair down or is it a lack of supplies - like no hair pins or combs? I could so see that being an issue as when my own hair tie has snapped my own hair turns into a disaster :frown:
Pharaoh's Army is another good movie where the Southern gal just fights to survive so isn't all "dolled up" either:
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#16
Re: the hair issue. My hair is almost to my knees. I can tell you that hairpins are a number one priority in day to day life. I may hoard them...and save all the broken ones...

Help is nice for long hair, but not necessary. I would think that hair wasn't the main issue then. I'd even speculate that it'd stay much the same--tight, pulled back bun. :smile: It's very difficult to loose all one's hairpins!
I figured hair pins were important. As a curly haired girl buns have never been my friend so I wasn’t sure what helped keep them together.

I LOVE the Keeping Room! A tad slow at first, after the carriage scene, but it gets going early on. VERY raw...no soundtrack accept a few fiddles here and there...just quite like the way it was back then and that pulls you into the era. Ride with the Devil is good too...more about the men than the women though.
One of the SCARIEST scenes ever! The Yankees are right outside!!!

I enjoy raw, more realistic movies, especially period ones. Eek! That is a scary scene. I’ll definitely check this out!
 
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#18
I have never been sure just how important it was to the director of a movie to have correct Civil War dress. I am sure some movies are better than others. Still most American's only knowledge of Civil War fashions comes from the movies they watched.
Oh for sure. Their interest stops there... but reenactors dig deeper with books and fashion plates. I would think modern (90's and up) costume designers for movies with big budgets probably do the same.
 

Zella

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#19
In regard to loose hair in period movies, I've noticed that, in general, a lot of movie/TV costumers seem to bypass the historical standards not because they're thinking through the time period but because of modern perceptions about hair.

From interviews I've watched and discussions I've read, they often think that viewers will find that more attractive than a hairstyle more proper for the time. Or they use it for symbolism to indicate when a female character is feeling happy or confident, so more free to be herself. I actually saw an actress from a British period drama (not CW era but still) discussing that for her 18th century character, and I rolled my eyes so hard. I guess they see it as the equivalent of the character cutting her hair but still looking vaguely historical because the hair remains long?
 
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#20
Well, first off I am a guy - so given that I don't have a clue and I am a guy - some my opinion probably would amount to a grain of sand, here goes From what I can discern is that women wore corsets to be "dressed" just as men wore vest to be dressed. Shirts by themselves were considered sleepwear. (I guess one never took it off!).
I find it unrealistic that a woman would plow a field wearing a corset! That idea just wreaks my brain housing group! Gen/President Andrew Jacksons wife plowed a field as did many other women - primarily in the south due to a manpower shortage. Hair, I pretty much think wearing the hair down was out of the question for most of the day. Coiled up into a bun was more probable. One must remember that in the South, most of these places were hot and humid! In East Texas iit is HOT and HUMID! My grandmother (Alabama) ALWAYS wore her hair up. One night, passing her open bedroom door, I saw her combing her hair. She was seated on a bench at a dresser and her hair fell to the floor and laid in ringlets on the same! I never knew her hair was THAT long!
 



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