Thursday, December 17, 2015

Edwardian Kitchen Maid Outfit

I occasionally docent tours at Hobart Manor, a registered historic landmark on the William Paterson University campus. Today I had the opportunity to conduct a tour focusing on the Manor decorated for the holidays, and I couldn't miss an opportunity to throw on some old duds to enrich the experience!

Instead of making something new, I reused the homespun skirt and Edwardian shirtwaist I had made this summer to wear as the costume of a late 19th--early 20th century Portuguese baker's wife. I made the costume look less folksy and more Daisy from Downton Abbey by wearing it without the headscarf, embroidered handkerchief, embroidered slippers, jewelry, or patchwork drawstring bag. I wore the outfit with thigh-high black polka dot tights and my American Duchess Gibson shoes. In addition to wearing my tucked petticoat with crochet lace and monogrammed drawers underneath the outfit, I wore an antique Edwardian corset cover and petticoat (fantastic Ebay/flea market finds which I hope to post shortly!).

It was very fun to be a maid at the Manor, a change from last year's bedazzled 1920s lady. It was also very rewarding to see how different costume pieces can be appropriately reused; with just a change of accessories, I went from rural housewife to Edwardian servant! It was also fun to try on the outfit with some of my wool shawls and scarves; carrying around a carpetbag-shaped leather purse, I felt as if I had stepped right onto Ellis Island!

I especially love how I look in the photo on the right!

This shawl/cowl/shrug was thoughtfully handmade for me by my boss! It's very warm and soft, and matches the tones of my outfit quite perfectly!
Good thing this skirt has a strong facing! It was so long that it swept up anything on the stairs!

This costume is especially meaningful to me because my paternal grandmother worked as a servant in a large country house. The daughter of her employers was named Gabriela, and she always desired to have a daughter or granddaughter with that same name. Not only have I fulfilled (unfortunately posthumously) her desire for a Gabriela, I am exploring her experiences of scurrying up and down stairs--albeit to deliver notes in my office (which is located in the Manor)--and standing on her feet all day. This is certainly an outfit I can see myself wearing on many occasions!

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how different the outfit looks with just a few changes. You've clearly got a very kind boss!