How Women Got Dressed in the 14th & 18th Centuries: Watch the Very Painstaking Process Get Cinematically Recreated

We live in an age of con­ve­nience, and one get­ting more con­ve­nient all the time. Few com­par­isons between past and present under­score that quite so much as the morn­ing rou­tine. Hot and cold run­ning water on demand, prop­er­ly appre­ci­at­ed, can seem mirac­u­lous enough, let alone more recent devel­op­ments like the avail­abil­i­ty of high-qual­i­ty cof­fee on every city block. But con­sid­er cloth­ing, the change in whose out­ward appear­ance over the past 700 years or so goes along with an equal­ly dra­mat­ic change in use. We still wear clothes for all the same basic rea­sons we did back then, of course, but what it takes to wear them has dimin­ished to com­par­a­tive effort­less­ness.

These videos, one on get­ting dressed in the 14th cen­tu­ry and one on get­ting dressed in the 18th cen­tu­ry, offer detailed, nar­rat­ed, and cin­e­mat­ic looks at what the process once entailed — or at least what the process entailed for Eng­lish women of a cer­tain class.

The aver­age man in those peri­ods, too, had to deal with much more has­sle putting on his clothes in the morn­ing that he does today, but the female case, with its shift, stays, pet­ti­coats, pock­ets, roll, stock­ings and garters, gown and stom­ach­er, apron, and more besides, required not just a great deal of dis­ci­pline and con­cen­tra­tion on the part of the dress­er but assis­tance from anoth­er pair of hands as well.

You can find more such videos on the fin­er points of wom­en’s dress­ing rou­tines of yore, includ­ing fur­ther expla­na­tions of such ele­ments as pock­ets and busks, on this playlist. The social, tech­no­log­i­cal, and indus­tri­al sto­ries behind why it has all become so much less com­pli­cat­ed over the cen­turies has pro­vid­ed, and will con­tin­ue to pro­vide, the dri­ving ques­tions for many an aca­d­e­m­ic the­sis. But despite the enor­mous reduc­tion in the labor-inten­sive­ness of putting them on, clothes have not, of course, become a per­fect­ly sim­ple mat­ter for we dressers of the com­par­a­tive­ly ultra-casu­al 21st cen­tu­ry. Still, after watch­ing all it took to get dressed those hun­dreds and hun­dreds of years ago, many of us — male or female — might arrive at the thought that we could stand to put just a lit­tle more effort into the job.

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What’s It Like to Fight in 15th Cen­tu­ry Armor?: A Sur­pris­ing Demon­stra­tion

An Online Trove of His­toric Sewing Pat­terns & Cos­tumes

The Dress­er: The Con­trap­tion That Makes Get­ting Dressed an Adven­ture

1930s Fash­ion Design­ers Pre­dict How Peo­ple Would Dress in the Year 2000

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.