1/29/10

The Ladies of Fort Scott

An 1855 Fashion Plate - The University of Washington, Digital Collections

From the: Memoirs and recollections of C. W. Goodlander, of the early days of Fort Scott.
Pages 30-32

"In the early days of Fort Scott the opportunities for following Dame Fashion, were not so great as they were in the states, especially for the ladies, as there was no such a thing as a fashionable dress maker or millinery establishment at which the ladies could get their dresses or bonnets made in the latest fashion of the day. The men were better supplied in that line as Bob Blackett, who was the first tailor established here, would occasionally make a suit for the boys after his own fashion, having no fashion plates from which he could, but the clothes usually worn by us were hand me downs from the stocks of Colonel Wilson's and Dr Bill's stores which were made regardless of fashion, if they fit, all right, if not it was a go all the same.
      At this time hoop skirts were fashionable in the Eastern States. Our ladies were not going to be behind in style if they could help it, and as the old fashioned merchants here would not bring on the new style (hoop skirts) our ladies improvised a skirt after their own ideas, running clothes line into cloth six to eight inches apart and making it up into a skirt, then use enough starch to make it stand alone. They did not even stop at this. Some of the ladies in the country had the advantage of our town girls, as the grape vines were plenty in the woods. They would choose a good straight vine and sew three or four into their skirt, answering the purpose of the latest style crinoline.
      I remember well, at one of our dances two pretty country belles attended and wore their hoop vine skirts. They stood out so much that a young man would have to stoop over to shake hands with them, and to get near enough to kiss them was out of the question. as they would dance around and their grape vine hoops would hit a gentleman's limb, they would rebound in the opposite direction to such an extent, that anyone with whom they came in contact was in danger of being knocked down. The reader may think this grape vine hoop a hoax but Ben McDonald and Charlie Drake will verify what I say, also Charlie Bull as Charlie Bull took one of these country belles to a dance, a Miss Susie Foote, by the way, she was the belle of the ball that night, even though she was encircled with grape vines.
      Col Wilson used to tell his lady customers that seven yards was enough for a dress but they would say; "Colonel that might have done some years ago, but how can we wear our hoop skirts with so little calico?" The Colonel would in surprise say "Madam, I did not think of the late fashion you ladies have adopted in hooping yourselves in like a hogshead"

I've been reading this book on Google Books.

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