Whenever we watch any period drama on TV we see all the actors in the fine clothes of the day. But have you ever considered what this really meant for our ancestors.
It doesn’t really matter what class our ancestors are from the clothes they wore would be so much more uncomfortable than we’re used to. As I write this blog its 28o C outside and 25 inside. I like most of the country have shorts and a thin top on trying to keep cool, but how would our ancestors have coped.
Let’s start by considering the working class.
They would have been working in the factories, mills and farms whilst wearing a wool dress or suit with a hat. This must have been so hot. Imagine being in the fields with the sun blazing down on the tending the fields and the animal or being in the mills with the machinery running and all the heat they were producing. The men would probably be in shirt sleeves but the women would have had dresses, aprons and hats on which would probably be their only set of clothes which they had had for years. It would have been unbearable for them. It wasn’t just at work though. Women would be expected to carry out all daily tasks dressed like this. How on earth they scrubbed floors and washed clothes in these clothes is beyond me. In this weather it’s bad enough having to push the vacuum cleaner round or load the washer without having to wear heavy clothes. The only good thing going for them was the fact the clothing could be looser and less tight fitting so maybe they would get some air to them. I don’t know for certain but I would imagine it was much more dangerous working in the mills and factories on hot days. If the workers became overheated or dehydrated they could pass out and near machinery they could be fatal. What if they were weavers and got pulled under the machines and crushed. It wouldn’t have been much safer on the farm as they could pass out and get trampled by a heard of cows or the farm machinery.
Spare a though also for your ancestors who were in service. They would have been in starched uniforms having to do their job without fainting! It would have been even worse for the kitchen staff. Imagine having a range burning day in day out, it would only have been worse for the men who worked in the foundries.
As you rise up the classes it wouldn’t have been much better. They had to consider what they wore. Ladies and gentlemen must be seen in the latest fashions without exception. Society wouldn’t care if it was hot, full corsets and bustles must be worn with massive hats. They may get a parasol if outside. The men would be in full suit with hat and starched collars. The ladies passed out at the best of times from the corsets but in the summer it must have been unbearable. No wonder those who had country estates went to them to avoid the heat of the city, or was it so they could wear thinner clothes without their circle of friends and acquaintances finding out about the falling standards of their attire?
Let’s not forget the children. They would have been in formal clothes as well no matter if they were playing, doing school work or even enjoying a day at the beach.
So all in all I’m much happier being able to wear thin clothing suited to the weather outside and not having to be constricted by the constraints of what clothes our ancestors had or what society stated they should have to wear. I say denim short and t shirts all the way!
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!