Dressed for the Civil War

My mother was recently in the local paper. My hometown’s Historical Society ran some sort of tour of local historical houses, including one that was built in the 1850s. It happens to be the home of my kindergarten teacher. I remember ages ago, back when I was a Girl Scout, said teacher took my troop on a small tour of her house, and showed us a closet that was deceptively deep. It was actually a hiding place along the Underground Railroad.

My mother’s picture appeared in the article about the Historical Society’s tour because she made herself a Civil War era dress and wore it to greet people on the tour (I believe it was at my kindergarten teacher’s request.) I think the dress came out quite adorable, so of course, I tried it on at the earliest opportunity possible.

The dress has a few features I wasn’t expecting. The white sleeves under the dress are not actually attached to any shirt- they’re separate pieces. The apron is held to the dress with snaps, and what I originally confused for shoulder pads (before I tried the dress on) turned out to be some kind of odd padding in the bust. I think it’s meant to mimic the shape a corset of the era might create.

It’s not my size, granted, but if I adjusted the ties of the apron, it would fit well enough to wear to a LARP. (And maybe wore a bigger petticoat underneath, because even though bigger skirts are harder to maneuver in, they’re also more fun.) Luckily, my mother and I are very close in height.

Civil War era Costume

Now I just need someone to run a Civil War era LARP.


About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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7 Responses to Dressed for the Civil War

  1. Ivan Zalac says:

    That should be easily doable in USA. You have a huge civil war reenactment scene, and a lot of well researched period material.

    • Fair Escape says:

      There’s actually surprisingly little overlap between Civil War reenactment and LARPing. Civil War reenactment is a lot more popular in the South. Here in the Boston area, people like Revolutionary War reenactment a lot more.

      But you gave me an excellent idea. I should wear it to watch a Civil War battle reenactment if I can’t find a LARP!

      • Chad Bergeron says:

        There’s actually some strong civil war reenactment around here if you look. Remember, the first casualties in the civil war were troops from Massachusetts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_in_the_American_Civil_War

        • Fair Escape says:

          Huh. I’m not turning up much in the way of reenactment (except for one event in October). Probably because no actual battles were fought in MA? There are a number of lectures and memorial events. I wonder how many encourage costuming!

      • Ivan Zalac says:

        Both are interesting periods, and if not the players at least you’ll be able to find period stuff and accessories which are always a welcome element if you’re doing a civil war or revolutionary war era larp.

        It’s not surprising. Over here, there’s also very little overlap between medieval reenactment and larping. Doesn’t stop us from getting cool larp stuff on medieval fairs and tournaments.

  2. Pingback: All Quiet on the Potomac, Part I: Politics | Fair Escape

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