Sisters - How Did We Do It?

Stand the heat without air conditioning I mean. In my lifetime air conditioning has become a household standard, however before the 1960's it was rare. My younger years were spent without air but my clothing was adjusted for the weather, less was best.

Going back to a time around the 1860s and in the deep South where it gets really hot and stays that way over half of the year, how did our foremothers do it given the amount of clothing it was mandatory they wear?


In 1860 women were wearing more underneath layers than in earlier times. First came the pantaloons or drawers, over that was the chemise which could be tucked into the drawers or worn over them. Stockings were silk or cotton and an absolute must, coming to the knee and held in place with garters. (And we now groan at the mere thought of wearing panty hose!) Let's not forget the all important corset. Crafted of cotton with boning, hooks and laces, all intended to shape the body into that womanly form. Of course you could injure yourself by lacing this too tight. On top of all this came the hoop petticoat. Heavy cotton with wire casings intended to make the skirt flare.







Now comes the dress. Day dresses were made of cotton or silk, high neck and long sleeves. Only for evening could the arms be partially displayed and shoulders bared. Ankles of course were never shown.

Working women wore only slightly less, maybe minus the hoop petticoats but then they worked in the fields.

How did they do it? In the deep South temperatures rise to 100 fairly often and high 90s is normal. Only one bit of info I have ever found and that was baking soda which was used as deodorant. Keep in mind there was no ice, no fans, no visible means of cooling.

Today we collect these rare items of clothing, no longer worn but just displayed. I don't know about you girls but for me a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops is as much clothing as I can stand.

P.S. I'll write again in January complaining about the cold

Alley Cats Vintage specializes in lovely vintage clothing ranging from the 1930's through the early 1980's. You will find a wide selection of vintage hats, evening wear, day dresses, shoes and purses, also lingerie in all sizes and colors for all shapes.

Christine Moore
Visit: Alley Cats Vintage

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