Charleston Museum visitors get taste of Civil War-era fashion

  • Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013 12:01 a.m., Updated: Sunday, July 7, 2013 11:51 a.m.
Diane Rice takes an iPhone picture of two Living History Seamstresses during a Civil War Fashion Try-On Saturday at the Charleston Museum. Buy this photo

A lady never leaves the house without her white gloves — at least during the 1800s.

The Charleston Museum collaborated with the Carolina Ladies Aid Society for the fourth year in a row to offer a Civil War Fashion Try-on event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Guests were able to try on clothing authentic to the era made by the women in the Society and have their pictures taken. Society President Vicki Evans, of Summerville, said the ladies spend weekends sewing together and follow patterns from the era. A typical dress with few embellishments takes at least 10 hours to create. A complete outfit for a woman, hoop skirt and all, can weigh up to 35-lbs.

“It has turned out to be hugely popular. It has really captured people’s imaginations,” said Jan Heister, Curator of Textiles for the Charleston Museum.

Evans’ 13-year-old granddaughter, Kaelynn Lewis, often accompanies her for society events like this one. She said Kaelynn has been dressing up in era clothes since she was four months old. She said taking a step back in time with your family away from modern technology can be a good thing.

“It’s something nice to do with family. We teach the children games. They’re learning how to play and talk to each other,” Evans said.

Kendra Wilson took her 10-year-old son Rhys to the event. Wilson said her son is a huge history buff who loves watching the History Channel. Wilson said that, while the dress she tried on was beautiful, the additional layers of the outfit made it uncomfortable, especially if she were to go out in the Lowcountry heat.

“The clothes were so elegant. People really cared about the way they dressed back then,” said Katie Lafferty, of Goose Creek.

About 100 people participated in this year’s event.

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