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My name’s Roseanna White, and when I’m not momming, homeschooling, designing book covers, and managing WhiteFire Publishing with my hubby, I’m writing novels. Usually historical romance. Many of my books are set in England of the 1910s, but today I’m excited to be sharing about a Civil War-era novel that I actually wrote about 9 years ago, but which just released in January, Dreams of Savannah. Here’s a bit about it:
Cordelia Owens is known all over Savannah for her whimsy and her storytelling. When her sweetheart, Phin, goes missing during some of the first action of the war, her stories keep hope alive in the hearts of his mother and sister. But Phin, a casualty of betrayal that nearly costs him his life, begins to fear that if ever he makes it home to the young woman he loves, he won’t be the kind of hero she’s always wanted–not anymore. Both Delia and Phin are forced to face unwelcome truths about the lives they always thought they understood and the people who move so silently through them. They begin to dream of a new sort of future…but reaching it will take courage far greater than any even Delia could have imagined.
Well I don’t know about you, but when I look at that cover, my main thought is, “Ooooooo, a hoop dress!” I grew up watching Gone with the Wind, and it was the fashion that had me going back to it time and time again. I always loved those enormous gowns, the satin, the lace, the silk, the petticoats…ah, yes. I’ve learned a lot over the years about what actually went into wearing one of these creations on a daily basis…and I’ve also actually worn one a few times. In fact, I wore a dark-pink variation of the one on the cover to a high school Valentine’s dance, and a gold one to my junior prom! (Why yes, ahem. I was totally the cool kid. *Cough, cough.)
When dressing, the first order of business for a Victorian lady would have been a chemise and bloomers–basically a tank top/cami in a lightweight cotton and then knee-length pants and stockings. Then she would have put on her corset. Despite the reputation corsets have, very few women practiced “tight-lacing” like we see in the aforementioned famous movie. Most simply used it to hold everything where it belonged and add structure to their gowns. Next would have come the hoop itself–made up of concentric circles usually made from a thin metal, sewn into a skirt. These fold down into a circle for easy(ish) storage. Over the hoop would have gone multiple layers of petticoats. Why multiples? Because it was unseemly for the hoops to be visible through the final skirt. Only at that point would a woman have slipped the actual dress on. Often they would layer all the skirts/dress on the floor in the proper order, step into the center, and pull ’em all up at once.
My personal experience with the dresses (I also wore one to junior prom) taught me a valuable lesson about how to sit in a hoop skirt. Namely, you have to lift the skirts and make sure you’re positioning your bottom between the hoops. Because if you happen to sit on a hoop instead, that whole skirt will flip up like a bell! (For the record, I made this discovery in my own bedroom, LOL.) So there you have it. How to dress like a Civil War era lady. 😉
If you could wear the clothing from any one historical era, which would you choose?