One of my favorite places to browse is Ebay. Being an avid antique buff I enjoy finding and buying things of age. Many of the things that I have purchased have been additions to collections started by my grandmothers along with collections that I have started for myself.
About 15 years ago I started collecting Polonaise ornaments. They are hand-blown glass ornaments made in Poland and decorated in the same fashion as those created during the Second World War. I like the twist they do with their designs of well known people and cartoon characters, created in the old fashion manner. My Christmas tree is filled every year until it threatens to topple over with these shiney baubles and my guests love searching for their favorite characters.
When you do a search on Ebay for Polonaise you also turn up Civil War Era clothing. Polonaise was a specific design period for women’s clothing in the United States. There was a fabulous picture of a black lace gown with a sweeping train for sale on the site. There are currently 2 other outfits for sale from the same period.
To understand completely our ancestors, you have to understand their way of life. Erase from mind the methods of today’s travel and communication. Take away the comforts of insulated homes, central air and heat. Remove the blacktop, cement roads, convenient stores and replace clothing with the garments worn from that era.
Seeing the clothing always makes me wonder about how these women managed to go through a day, cooking, cleaning and shopping, in that many layers. A trip to town would consist of putting on all of that clothing and then searching for boardwalks to walk on, carefully keeping out of the mud and slug that decorated every outdoor space. Dragging around all of those layers of clothing must have been exhausting, not to mention the fact that your insides were being rearranged by the corset that kept you perfectly straight and wasp-waisted.
If you Google 1870’s clothing you find a link to démodé. This site contains links to photographs of all types of clothing worn during that period. They show everything from under garments to exquisitely decorated evening gowns. As I sit here curled up on the couch in my nightshirt, feet tucked under me, I cannot imagine spending and entire day rigged into one of these outfits that my great grandmother wore every day. Even with that thought I still wonder what it would be like, elegantly attired, in the fabulous black lace dress.