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Name: Monique
From: Lexington, MA
Age: 17

'I love performing, strutting around on the sidelines pretending to be a scared colonial girl.'
Look the Part

Do you find colonial clothing a bit mystifying? Are you wondering how to behave while garbed accurately?

Seventeen-year-old Monique describes how she appears -- and acts -- authentic.

step one | step two | step three | step four

Step One: Know Your Clothes
If you are a girl, prepare yourself to be a little uncomfortable. You will be wearing clothes that are quite different in material and form. Don't forget your bonnet!

Ladies mopcaps"The clothes are completely different from what I normally wear. Bonnets are always worn -- women always wear something on their heads. You can't see peripherally, which is kind of disorienting... The clothes are really heavy, the cape is really hard to keep on, the skirts itch and the bodice is always really tight."
-- Monique


Step Two: Tie On Your Pockets
Colonial pockets look different from modern ones, but they serve the same basic function: keeping needed items close at hand.

"The pocket is a separate piece and it's just almost like this mitten with a slit down its side with a ribbon going through it. You tie it around your waist. The first year I had a cold, so I kept tissues in my pocket."
-- Monique


Step Three: Practice Makes Perfect
After enough practice you'll overcome difficulties with your period outfit -- though it might take time.

pockets tied around the waist"The skirts just refuse to work. It's one-size-fits-all so the string always tries to slip out of the scrunched-up part of the skirt. The bodice is impossible -- it's so difficult to wear one of those -- it's hard to lace it up because you have a square-shaped leather string you have to put through just slits instead of metal grommets. And you pull out all sorts of threads and stuff trying to get it on. But, I've learned how to put it on pretty quickly now."
-- Monique


Step Four: Get Into Character
All laced in? Now imagine that you are in a different era.

front lace outfit"It's easy to ignore the audience because it's dark, you hear the bell tower ringing and you see all the men walking around with guns and you know that the British are going to show up. You can just imagine how frightening it would have been. The women back then were so much different than they are now. I hold myself -- literally hold myself -- a little more proper, less casual."
-- Monique


Learn more about 18th-century women's clothing on the Colonial Williamsburg Web site.


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