Friday, June 23, 2017

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Podcast Episode 8: It's not just One Direction: The Many Hairy Styles of 18th Century Women

Hi All!

Abby here with Episode 8 of Fashion History with American Duchess! This is Part 2 of our 18th Century Hair convo. Last week we talked about hygiene, hair care, and hair products of the 18th century, and now we've moved on to have a chat about different hair styles & their constant evolution through the century (especially the last quarter!)

Harry Styles...Hairy Styles...Get it? Get it?! :D (Apologies to Harry, you seem lovely and I adore your new album.)

Here's Our Talking Points:

- We have a pun filled giggle fest about One Direction and Ha(i)rry Styles (who is also Abby's current crush, btw...and she wants to steal some of his wardrobe, but that's beside the point...)

- Anglo & American women did not seem to use powder and pomade in the same way as the French women did (heavily powdered hair in the 1750s & 60s seemed to be predominately a French trend - but I am unsure about other European countries - Abby hasn't investigated it.)

One of our favorite portraits and favorite gowns, with what appears to be unpowdered or lightly powdered hair. (Portrait of a Lady, Francis Cotes, 1768, Tate Museum)
Madame Lalive de Jully, 1764, Joseph Ducreux (Here)

- The really tall vertical hair that we've come to associate with the 1700s is more nuanced than what we think.

- Hair wasn't actually as tall as what we think too - here are some images that help visually explain what we mean with it comes to proportion and hair:

Looks huge, but it's actually not like what you think...those feathers do a lot of the work. (Marie Antoinette, 1778, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Met Museum via Kunsthistorisches Museum
Another of Marie Antoinette

- "Poufs" are not the hair styles - they are the the gauzy, feathered, bedazzled, and be-shipped bits that women would wear on top of their hair that helped get it to "enormous" heights.

- Abby confuses the man-milliner who is credited with created the pouf, Leonard, for Louis during the talk - like a damn professional....(guess who's annoyed at herself. Ha!)

-Abby has a moan about the "ship in the hair" trope while Lauren ponders the idea of putting a race car in a new pouf. (Abby supports the race car idea because it is funny.)

- Abby raves about Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell's book Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and her research on Leonard, poufs, etc. (buy the book - seriously - it's so good!)

- Abby talks about the different cushions, shapes, and rollers that were made and used in the 18th century to create the crazy hair designs.

The Village Barber, 1778, Library of Congress

- Lauren laments trying to hack the "donut" hair cushion with a plastic swim wing thing.

- We chat about the frizzy hairstyles of the 1780s and how in the beginning they were done by "crapeing" the hair.

- Abby probably butchers the name "Plocacosmos" which is the title of one of her favorite hair-dressing and care manuals.

- We talk about how the instructions for the 1780 style hair in Plocacosmos: The Whole Art of Hair Dressing (1782) describes the styles and tools seen in the 1780s Encyclopédie méthodique.

This style, the combs, hair pieces, and cushions are all described in Plocacosmos - it was amazing! Plate is from a later Edition of Encyclopédie Méthodique (image)

- We also talk about how what we call the "hedgehog" hairstyle is more wide than it is tall.
Circle of Johann Ernst HEINSIUS, Portrait of Young Lady with Yellow Bow, 1780s-90s, Here 

As always, I've probably missed a bullet point from the post, but this should give you a good general idea of what we chat about. Hope you enjoy!!!

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Friday, June 16, 2017

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Podcast Episode 7: Did They Have BUGS in Their Hair?! 18th Century Hair & Hygiene

Hi All -

Abby here and I am very pleased to release this weeks episode of Fashion History with American Duchess - "Hair, Hygiene, and the 18th Century Woman" - as it is the first of a 2 part series devoted to my favorite research subject on hair, hairstyles, hair products, hair care, etc in the 18th century.

An oldey from my private Instagram account - a good shot of the 'before' and 'after' of pomade and powdering your hair
It's a subject I've been researching for about 4 years now, and while I've give some lectures at Costume Society of America, University of Alberta, and Costume College - this is really the first time I've been able to speak on this subject on such a public platform. I really hope you enjoy the episode & if you have any questions - please leave them in the comment section!

Here's the summary of what Lauren and I chat about -

- How long I've been studying 18th century hair on an academic level.

- The basics of the hair products that were used in the 18th century (Pomatum/Pomade and Hair Powder). I also lament the difficulties in studying 18th century hair pins - ugh - so frustrating!

- What these products were made of (animal fat, starch, and other fun goodies!) and how they smell (like cookies.)

- How were the products used & what are some challenges with them (hint - follow instructions and don't get your hair wet!)
Miss Rattle dressing for the Pantheon, March 28 1772, Lewis Walpole Digital Collection, 772.03.28.01

- How long I did my 'living experiment' (1 year or so - give or take - and while I don't use powder and pomade today in my hair care regime - I still only wash my hair about once or twice a week max.)

-How successful was powder and pomatum as a form of hair care/cleanliness. (Spoiler: I did not get lice, fleas, vermin, or suffer any scalp issues)

-We talk about how the use of powder and pomatum changes women's hair texture and is amazing for fine haired girls like Lauren and me.

My hair, dressed in a style from c. 1781 - You can see how much powder & pomatum (and backcombing!) I used for my side curls (or buckles). (From a post on my old blog Stay-ing Alive)

- We chat about why we think wigs are still so heavily associated with women in the 18th century though it seems that the standard practice was for men to wear full wigs, while women most commonly utilized pads, cushions, and false hair pieces. Wigs for women seemed to be used in very specific instances.

- Lauren and I have a massive giggle about the disaster that is getting your hair wet after pomatum and powder & my thoughts on the idea of washing hair in the 1700s -

- I rave about this PhD by Emma Markiweitz on Hair, Wigs, and the Hair Trade in the 18th century.

- I also address the myth about lice, fleas, vermin, etc from the 18th century. Let's just say, it's a pest peeve of mine (har har - see what I did there?) :D

The Lovely Sacarissa Dressing for the Pantheon, Feb 24, 1778, British Museum, J,1.150

So all sorts of fun stuff this week & don't forget to tune in next week when we talk about different hair styles of women in the 18th century!

A Selection of Citations

I prefer to do most of my research through primary sources and will supplement with secondary. Here is a small selection of documentation that I've used through the course of my research.

A Treatise on the Hair, David Ritchie, 1770, Book

The Art of Hair - Dressing, Alexander Stewart, 1788, Book

The Natural Production of Hair, Alexander Stewart, 1795, Book

A Treatise on the Hair, Peter Giltchrist, 1770, Book

Toilet de Flora, Anon, 1770s, Book (Link is to a free version on GoogleBooks!)

Hair, Wigs and Wig Wearing in Eighteenth-Century England, Emma Markiewicz, PhD Thesis for University of Warwick

Lice and Clean Hair 

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Friday, June 9, 2017

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Episode 6 - Enslaved People's Dress in the 18th & 19th Century with Cheyney McKnight

Hey Everyone!

Cheyney McKnight (Photo: LoomHappenings)
Today, we are very excited to share our newest episode for Fashion History with American Duchess! In April, Abby got a chance to sit down with her lovely friend, Cheyney McKnight of Not Your Momma's History, to discuss enslaved women (& men's) dress and clothing in the 18th and 19th century. Cheyney has been represented enslaved women in both centuries for a few years now, and has graciously shared her wealth of knowledge and experience in the field with us.

Here are some bullet points from our conversation:

- Shift in terminology among living historians from "slave" to "enslaved person/woman/man/people" as a way to give humanity to those held in bondage.

- How slavery in the USA was different than what has ever been seen before - "hereditary chattel slavery" & how it is passed down through the maternal line, even though the society at large was paternal.

Cheyney McKnight (Here)

- While slavery in the USA spanned approx. 250 years - the transatlantic slave trade ended in 1807- which then saw the rise of "natural increase".

- Around the Revolutionary War (1770s) there were estimated 400,000 enslaved people in the USA. By the Antebellum Period it was 3.9 million. This comes out to a 25 - 30% population increase per year, and enslaved women at this time were giving birth, on average, to 9-10 children in their lifetime.

- We discuss the historical significance of the term "Going down river"

- Slave owners are buying fabric in bulk from manufacturers in UK/Europe to provide clothing allotments.

- Hierarchy of dress in the enslaved community.

- The textile related "reward system" that existed for enslaved people by the master of the household (child birth, tattle telling, work production, etc)

The Old Plantation, by John Rose, c. 1785, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1935.301.3
-Dress as a form of Resistance within the enslaved community.

- Trading of clothing and textile within the enslaved family group in households.

-What were the common textiles that enslaved people wore. (You can find Osnaburg Linen Here)

- How dress of freedmen and women differed from those who were enslaved.

Miss Breme Jones, 1785-87, by John Rose, Beaufort County South Carolina, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2008.300.1

Finally, Cheyney has been doing a great deal of research on different types of headwraps seen in images of enslaved women, and has begun documenting her recreation of them. She was kind enough to share some pictures & her citations below:

Cheyney experimenting with different 18th century head wrap styles.

Head Wrap inspired by: Portrait of a Young Woman, St. Louis Art Museum

Not Your Momma's History Youtube Tutorial (Starts at 17:45)

Not Your Momma's History Youtube Tutorial (Around 19:00)


A Mississippi Planter. June 1851. "Management of Negroes Upon Southern Estates." De Bow's Southern journal and Western Review, 621-625.

Boturne, E. H. First Days Among the Contrabands. Boston: Lee and Shepard Publishers, 1893. Print

Olmstead, F. L. The Cotton Kingdom: A Travellers Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American Slave States. N.Y: Mason Bros., 1861. Print

Kemble, F A. A Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation, 1838-1839. N.Y: Harper & Brothers. 1863. Wares, L. J. 1981. "Dress of the African-American Woman in Slavery and Freedom: 1500- 1935." Dissertation: Purdue University.

Abrahams, Roger D. Singing the master: the emergence of African American culture in the plantation south. New York: Penguin , 1993. Print.

Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, roll: the world the slaves made. S.I.: Paw Prints, 2008. Print.

White, Shane, and Graham J. White. Stylin: African American Expressive Culture from its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit. Ithaca, NY: Cornell U Press, 1999. Print.

Foster, Helen Bradley. New raiments of self African American clothing in the antebellum South. Oxford: Berg, 1997. Print.

Digital Databases for Runaway Slave adsThe Geography of Slavery in Virginia

North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements project

Documenting Runaway Slaves research project (Mississippi) 


The Old Plantation, attributed to John Rose (ca. 1785–90), Beaufort County, South Carolina.

Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Cultivating Tobacco, Sketchbook, III, 33, ca. 1797.

Agostino Brunias (Italian, ca. 1730-1796). Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape, ca. 1770-1796. Oil on canvas Agostino Brunias (Italian, ca. 1730-1796). Linen Market, Dominica ca. 1780
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Thursday, June 1, 2017


Podcast Episode 5: Hot Town, Summer is Sh*tty (For Costuming)

Hey All!

Our 5th Episode of Fashion History with American Duchess is now live! This week Abby & Lauren sit down and talk about how to beat the summer heat while wearing historic clothing. A couple months ago we took a quick survey from our Facebook followers for their questions and suggestions on costuming/reenacting in the summer months, and from there we've created this episode.

Here are the highlights:
  • Abby does some improvisation singing, much to Lauren's surprise.
  • Linen is your bestest best best best friend for the summer.
  • Cotton is ok, but not as good as linen.
  • Wool is better than silk for the summer. Especially if you are wearing a lightweight worsted wool that is also light in color.
  • Silk can really be uncomfortable to wear in high heat because of how insulating it is. 
  • Wear light colors to help reflect the light of the sun off of your body...wearing dark colors will absorb the heat.
  • As weird as it may seem for us modern folks, cover up! By exposing your skin directly to the sun, it's like exposing yourself to a heat source (podcast includes a lovely and graphic analogy by Abby that involves cooking chickens.) When you cover up, it can actually keep you cooler & it prevents sunburns!
Summer Dresses, 1782, British Museum, J,5.139 (Even though you can see their bums, they still have cloaks & long sleeves on! ;) )
  • Wear less layers - Abby and Lauren chat about Philip Vickers Fithian & his commentary on Virginian women's dress during the summer of 1774. We also chatted about how wearing a quilted petticoat without an under-petticoat is actually pretty comfortable in the intense summer Virginian heat.
Excerpt from Philip Vickers Fithian, July 1774, Google Books
  • We also answer some questions regarding whether or not unlined gowns existed (there is at least one in the Met Museum from the 18th century. We also know that sleeves could be unlined (like Abby's 1820s silk dress).
Unlined gown made from cotton mull, c. 1785, Met Museum, 17.107.6a, b 
  • We also discuss the idea of not going inside to A/C & back out into the heat a lot - to help get the body to regulate & adjust to the temperature.
  • Also things like staying hydrated, being in the shade, and not doing much physically to help prevent heat exhaustion, etc.*

*We're not doctors, or health experts of any kind. Please don't consult us or take what we say as doctor gospel. If you have any health concerns relating to heat & your body, please please please talk to your doctor first! 
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Podcast Episode 4: What Did Napoleon Wear? featuring Mark Schneider

Mark as Napoleon (death stare optional)... (Photo by Luc Morel)
Hello All!

This week's episode of Fashion History with American Duchess is all about the big guy himself - Napoleon! While Abby was in Virginia in April, she sat down with Mark Schneider, one of the premiere living historians who portrays Napoleon all over the world.

Here is the real Napoleon for comparison:

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812, National Gallery of Art DC
As you can see, the resemblance is strong, just one of the reasons why it's such a treat to watch Mark become Napoleon. Below you will find more images of Mark, Napoleon, and artifacts linked to Napoleon (that we talk about in the podcast) as well as links to the different events around the world that Mark will be attending as Napoleon.

Mark as Napoleon at Malmaison (Photo by Joeri de Rocker)

General Napoleon Bonaparte during the Battle of Arcole in 1796, by Antoine-Jean Gros, 1801, via Waterloo200
Mark as Napoleon filming for a documentary about Napoleon's time in Northern Italy. (Photo by Michaela Wecker)
Photo of Napoleon's Hat and Greatcoat from Fontainbleau (via)

Mark in his hat and greatcoat at the reenactment of the Battle of Austerlitz in 2015 (Photo by Michaela Wecker)

Legion of Honor Medal (via)

Mark will be portraying Napoleon at these events this year:

Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove in Louisville, Kentucky. (We'll be there, too!)

3rd Imperial Jubilee at Malmaison France

Austerlitz in Czech Republic
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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Podcast Episode 3: All About the Louis Exclusive c. 1660-1720

Hi All!

For this week's episode, Abby & Lauren sit down and chat about the newest Exclusive offering from American Duchess - The Louis (Pre-Order open until May 19th! $295)

Our Louis Exclusives come in a dark red and deep blue velveteen with silver embroidery.

Here's what we chat about -
  • Abby asks Lauren to explain how the exclusive process works for American Duchess.
  • Lauren discusses the evolution of the heeled shoe & why we named the shoes after King Louis XIV
  • Abby & Lauren chat about Lady Mary Stanhope Gell, who is rumored to have owned the original shoes we were inspired by for the exclusive. 
  • We giggle about our costuming choices and ideas for the Louis shoes & how we would costume around the shoes. 

Blue velvet shoes with silver embroidery c. 1660, rumored to have belonged to Lady Mary Stanhope (here)
Here's the namesake of our shoes, King Louis XIV, rocking some red heels & a hell of a wig -

King Louis XIV, 1701, by Hyacinthe Rigaud (here)
Thanks to research done by Kimberly of Silk Damask, below is a portrait of Mary Stanhope from sometime in the early 1600s (when she was still a Radclyffe!). Also, don't forget to check out Kim's post on Silk Damask about the shoes & Mary Stanhope, it's a great summary of what we talk about in the podcast! 

Mary Radclyffe by William Larkin, c. 1610-1613, Berger Collection

Lauren and Abby both agree that maybe experimenting with doing some costuming c. 1660 would be fun...something like this:

One of Charles II's favorite ladies, Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine & Duchess of Cleveland by Peter Lely (Here)
We also talk about making an early 1700s mantua, like these to go with the Louis shoe -

Portrait of a Family in an Interior, Nicolas Walraven van Haften, MFA Boston, 1982.139

This is the style of gown that Abby is talking about when she references looking like a Mrs. Potato Head. 
Henrietta Maria after Sir Anthony van Dyck, 1630s (NPG London)
We hope you enjoy the podcast & don't forget to order your Louis exclusives today! (Easy Pay Layaway & Returns are both possible with our exclusives!) 

Our Louis in a dark red with matching leather heel. 

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