A survivor of the bicentennial, the dreaded bodice, still lives on. Nay, it thrives 37 years later on battlefields and museums and historic houses all across America. Is it an accurate garment for those portraying a woman in the American Colonies? My opinion is no.
Pretty darn appropriate if you are portraying someone in the Swiss Alps or the countryside of 18th century Alsace. But we are not in the Swiss Alps or France so why do so many of us look like we should be yodeling?
In my research of 18th century clothing I have come across many an original garment that resembles the "bodice", they are regional European clothing and here is a shocker, they are always silk and most frequently heavily boned.
There is no evidence that this garment was worn by the English or here in the English Colonies. (New France has it's own regional clothing.)
But to muddy the waters, there is an English garment that looks like and is a cousin to the European bodice.
|Victoria and Albert Museum|
Worn over stays (note the lines of the side of the waistcoat), under a bedgown or gown for warmth. Layering in the cold is not a new concept. This is quilted with wool batting, uber warm and toasty for an unheated world. Not an article of clothing worn in place of another garment, but rather in addition to.
So why are so many reenactors portraying European peasantry? ( and trust me, they don't look like the babes from Strausbourg above)
The reasons are probably as many as there are people but some of the obvious:
I am just here to prevent my husband from having fun without me
it was cheap
someone let me borrow it
get off my back, I look oldey timey and that is good enough
So the Battle of the Bodice is being fought on social media. On blogs, Facebook and group sites across America skirmishes are taking place. Who will win? The side with the most soldiers usually does. So far the Bodice Brigade has the numbers. We need recruits.
For more on the Battle of the Bodice, visit the Buzz at the Hive.