Full Chisel Blog

July 13, 2009

One leg at a time…

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,The Trade,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:49 am

and other than that, all similarities end.  That is how everyone puts on trousers or knee breeches or pantaloons or drawers.  But there is more involved when wearing traditional historic clothing.  So here is the average morning ritual.  I hope I do not infringe on anyone’s sensibilities and there is some graphic descriptions that some may find a bit ribald or perhaps just vulgar.

all dressed up

Awaking in the morning and while still in my night shirt and night cap and after attending to the necessities of the morning, it is time to get attired.  This starts out with putting on my stockings and affixing them in place with garters.  I have cotton webbing garters for warm weather and also a pair of leather garters for cold weather and military accoutrement.  These keep the long stockings from sagging and looking a bit shabby.

At this point I can put on my drawers, held in place with a few buttons in front, a string adjustable gusset in the back to accommodate expanding waist line.  The full length drawers also have ties at the ankles to prevent the drawers from riding up.  That can be unpleasant.

 I then remove my night shirt and put on a day shirt before I put on my trousers, one leg at a time, as the suspenders, gallows or braces go over the shirt.  I then put on my vest and neckerchief and hat and am ready to go.  Well I need to put on my shoes or boots.  I have shoes that are straight lasted, neither left nor right foot and I alter them one foot to the other to even out the wear.  I also have left and right footed shoes and boots and I try and get them on the appropriate foot.

My boots and shoes have iron heel plates to prevent wear to the heels and a couple of my shoes have hob nails which help prevent wear of the soles and provide excellent traction on ice and snow.  The shoes and boots need treatment with neatsfoot oil and goose or duck liquor in wet weather to keep them water resistant.  I also use boot blacking on my black shoes.  I am careful with this as it will come off on the cuffs of my light colored trousers.

During the course of the day I can easily relieve myself by unbuttoning my falls, but if by chance I must visit the privy to sit and consider then more is involved.  I must first remove my vest, then I can slip off my suspenders, lower my trousers, unbutton my drawers, etc., etc.

Then the reverse must be done after the task at hand has been completed in order to be presentable in public.  Going to the willows is no easy matter.

While today lice are not that prevalent a problem, in the past, clothing could be spread out on an ant hill and the ants will eat the lice and are easily shaken off the newly dis-infested garment.  Lice combs with very fine teeth were more common that we would like to think.

Perfume and other odor covering products were popular as personal hygiene is not what it is today, but then 150 years ago people didn’t worry that much about fragrance as we are today.  The most common smell was provided by the horse you rode in on.  Then there was the smell of smoke from heating and cooking fires, which can also present a problem.  Blacksmiths and women cooking in front of hot open fires would soak their clothing in borax to make it fireproof.  This can be irritating to the skin, but so can catching on fire.

 Then at the end of the day the process is reversed.



  1. I was asked by Mr. Shay Lelegren if I had an original source for ” I have shoes that are straight lasted, neither left nor right foot and I alter them one foot to the other to even out the wear.”. After much thought, I said that I did not. He is of the opinion that this is a modern concept. And I don’t have any primary source material, however with flat feet and unusual wear patterns on my footwear, I do reverse the straight last to even out the wear.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — November 30, -0001 @ 12:00 am

  2. I for some reason can not post on my blog, the post on the spinning wheel repair did not appear and the dates are at 0000. I will have to check into the problem later.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — November 30, -0001 @ 12:00 am

  3. Stephen, I missed the part where in the morning you take a shower. :-0
    That’s pretty cool about the ants eating the lice. I learn something new here with every visit to you blog.

    Comment by the Village Carpenter — July 13, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  4. VC,

    I am sure if transported back 150 years the first thing we would notice is the odors wafting in the gentle breeze. And while I am a hardcore reenactor, I do bathe more than is historically accurate.

    Hanging clothes up to air out does help, especially if they can be hung in the sun, keeps them fresher longer.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — July 14, 2009 @ 5:31 am

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