Threads recall another time
When Christie Abel read on Twitter about trying on Civil- War-era clothing Saturday at the Charleston Museum, the newlywed begged her husband to go with her.
"I e-mailed him and asked him 'please, please, please,' " she said.
Married in September, David Abel "indulged her," but said he didn't plan to try on any clothes.
Christie got dressed, posed for some photographs, and within minutes, David was putting some on himself.
"Once I saw the top hat, I figured I'd give in and do it," he said. "I was not expecting to trying on the clothes, but I told her I didn't want to see it on Facebook...You watch, it will probably be my profile picture before I know it."
In an era of Twitter and Facebook, texting and iPads, something very special struck a chord with people -- even kids, teens and young adults -- about going back in time.
Participants were able not only to don period attire but have their photo taken, albeit with a digital camera. The setting resembled a studio from the mid-19th century for "carte-de-visite" cards, small photographs that were mass-produced and designed for sharing and exchanging.
One couple posed for a photo that they planned to use for their "Save the Date" card for their upcoming wedding. Some families planned to use the photographs for their Christmas cards later this year.
The event was a collaboration between the Carolina Ladies Aid Society, a self-described group of "research junkies" focusing on the era of 1855 to 1865, and the Charleston Museum, which has a special Civil War clothing and textile exhibit called "Threads of War" running until Labor Day.
Jan Hiester, registrar and curator of textiles at the Charleston Museum, said the event helps people learn about history through a hands-on experience.
"People seem to relate to clothing because we all wear clothes," Hiester said. "Period fashion is so different from what we wear on the street everyday because there weren't blue jeans and T-shirts and this is the way people dressed. It really transports you back to a different time. I think people find that exciting and enlightening."
Jean Hutchinson of the Carolina Ladies Aid Society said the group planned the event because "everyone likes to dress up."
The event is just one of many the society plans in conjunction with the Civil War's sesquicentennial. The group already put on an outdoor cooking demonstration -- showing how to make sweet potato biscuits and shrimp and grits over a campfire -- next to the museum.
Hutchinson said future programs include a workshop, "Flirtation with a Fan," at the museum in March, and a fashion show, "War & Wardrobe: A Southern Woman's Perspective," in April, likely at the Sand Dunes Club on Sullivan's Island.
Hutchinson and several volunteers were busy dressing a steady but manageable flow of people on Saturday.
Daviana Douglas, a teenager whose grandmother is involved in the society, was helping many of the girls and young women get dressed.
Their main comment?
"Some are surprised you have to wear corsets, even if you were skinny," Douglas said. "When you hit 14, you had to wear a corset."
Many who participated in the program Saturday were doing so by accident while using their discounted "Tourist in Your Own Town" cards, including the Fail family. But of the four, only daughter Delaney chose to try on an outfit.
Delaney's father, Ali Fail, said, "I walked around in a 19th century uniform for four years at The Citadel and that was enough for me."