Monday, June 25, 2012

slipping into someone else's skin...or at least her clothes - Alisa M. Libby

I will have to echo the sentiment of fellow historical author, Julie Chibbaro - clothes are particularly important for historical fiction. The clothing can help the reader get a sense of the time and place, and the role of girls and women in that time period. It wasn't just a matter of reading about the corsets and farthingale hoops that my characters wore - a complex architecture of clothing concealing the human female body beneath. I also had to imagine the process of slipping into their clothes.

What would it be like to wear such complicated garments that I required the help of others to dress and undress every day? What would it feel like to wear corsets with whalebone or iron stays pressed against my ribs and abdomen? How would it change my movement, my behavior? Of course, my personal reactions would be different - ladies in Tudor England weren't sitting around Hampton Court wishing they could wear their blue jeans. But they may have longed for bed time, when they would be released from their clothing-confinement. These gowns were often very beautiful, but there was more to them than beauty. What did it say about a woman, or what society thought of a woman, that her legs are concealed beneath a hoop-skirt cage, her sleeves heavy and cumbersome, her waist bound in iron? This is what my characters had to contend with, though they may not have thought of it in these terms as they completed their morning toilette.

2 comments:

  1. I have to agree...I would have been longing for bed time too!

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  2. I think just dressing up--wearing a nice skirt or a pair of slacks instead of jeans--changes a person's mindset...I can't imagine what a corset might do!

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