Podcast Episode 9: Early 17th Century Women’s Dress with Samantha McCarty

Hello Lovelies!

Abby here! On this week’s episode of Fashion History with American Duchess, I got to sit down with Samantha McCarty (Couture Courtesan) and chat with her about her other topic of expertise – Early 17th Century Women’s Dress & Oorijzers (Ear Irons).

Samantha dressed in one of her 17th century outfits at Jamestown Settlement

Again, it’s one of those topics where I will probably make a fool out of myself, but listening and chatting with Samantha about this particular subject was so very very interesting! Whenever you see someone who can make and dress in one of the more obscure time periods – it’s just fascinating to be able to watch them wear the clothing & see it brought to life. Like I said in the interview, what I love about Samantha is she is able to take 1600-1625 and make it seem so very real and tangible – not like a costume at all!

Here’s the breakdown of what we talk about:

– What was in the “average” woman’s wardrobe when she arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1621.

-What is a petticoat, how is it worn, and what makes it different from a kirtle (or…not different…)

-We discuss the modern historian/costumer/reenactor’s assumption that boned corsetry was used around this time period. (Turns out it’s mostly found only with elite, aristocratic women…)

Another example of Samantha’s work – the red is known as a gown….I have to be honest….it’s still confusing me a bit. :/ 

– What are bodies or upper bodies and what where they made out of?!

-Samantha’s success with making herself a petticoat with upper bodies.

-Coming to terms with bodice wrinkles and how they’re accurate (even if they drive you bananas!)

– What in the blue blazes is a “gown” in the 17th century & how the 1600s is a confusing time period for terminology. :/

Gown, 1610-1620, worn by Electress Magdalena Sibylla, Here

– We discuss Samantha’s success with making a more formal 1616 gown for Costume College last year…and nip slip, low necklines, and all that good stuff.

No words…just stunning! 

– Samantha explains what an oorijzer (or-eye-zer) is, how it is worn, how they are made, who wore them, and why they were worn. Turns out her version is copied off an ear iron that was found in Virginia! Pretty cool, if you ask me!

That’s the oorijzer that Aislinn from the Blacksmith Shop at Colonial Williamsburg made for Samantha – it’s so cool…

And here’s the cap pinned into place – you can see the little nubs of the oorijzer poking out at her cheeks!

I loved re-listening to this episode, just as much as I enjoyed recording it with Samantha, and so I know you’ll love it too! Makes me want to sit down and experiment with different types of support with canvas, buckram, and itty-bitty teeny-weeny eyelets!

NOTE: We mention the fabulous women of The Tudor Tailor quite a bit in this episode, and if you would like to know more about them, their books (if you haven’t already – stop what you’re doing and go buy their books now), check out their webpage and etsy store!

Also – we mention Burnley & Trowbridge‘s video on how to make your own buckram. You can watch it here. 🙂


  • Myrthe

    July 6, 2017 at 8:33 AM

    Thanks for another great podcast! Very interesting and informative, I don't know a lot about 17th century dress and it was very nice to learn some more. Also fun to hear about oorijzers! I know a bit of the Dutch history and especially how they evolved, but I didn't know anything about the international story. It's very interesting, so good luck to Samantha on the paper! Your pronunciation was very good by the way :).

  • Anonymous

    July 7, 2017 at 4:26 PM

    Thank you for your excellent podcasts! I look forward to them each week. One thing… The sound, at least east through Stitcher, is really, really low. I can't listen unless I have headphones in and then when a different podcast comes on, my ears are blown out. Maybe your levels are off in recording? Thanks again!

  • Sarah Walsh

    July 7, 2017 at 8:08 PM

    Seeing the oorijzers in situ, I now have a question about them. While listening to the podcast, I pictured the middle part sitting somewhere closer to the crown of the head, with the two bars coming down over the ears to the cheeks. But as Samantha's wearing it, the middle part goes down and under her bun. Depending on the style of cap and the way the hair was styled, could it be worn the other way, with the rounded part going over the top?


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