From bustles to bloomers, panniers to fishtails; morning dresses to mourning gowns, and crinoline cages to iron maiden corsets, in the 1850-1870 Victorian era women wore some amazing fashions.
As part of the 150th observance of Memorial Day, a women’s tea and historical fashion show will be presented by the Waterloo Research Club on Saturday, May 14, at the Waterloo Presbyterian Church, 42 East Main Street .
The historical fashion show will be narrated by Caren Cleaveland, chair of Living History for Celebrate Commemorate. Tea sandwiches, finger desserts, tea, and coffee will be served. Admission is $6. Proceeds will benefit the First Presbyterian Church Capital Fund.
The fashion show spans some historic events in our nation’s history.
“Not only are we paying tribute to those who gave their lives in the Civil War, but we are also saluting the start of the American Women’s Rights Movement Era,” Cleaveland said.
As the show opens, women are dressed in their full-length morning dresses, crinolines and bonnets popular in the Victorian era.
When the Civil War broke out, many women gave up their finery to don practical fashions as they followed the troops to the battlefield, tended the farms and businesses at home, or nursed the sick and dying.
Following the war, elegant ball gowns became popular again as women attempted to reunite the nation at dances and parties.
“A ball was one way to forget, at least for an evening, the “fiery trial” of the Civil War,” Cleaveland explained. ”It was considered ill mannered to dance with the same partner all evening. Everyone at a ball had a social duty to mingle and to ensure that everyone else had a pleasant time.”
Advance sale tickets for the fashion show and tea may be purchased at the Waterloo Village Office, 41 West Main Street.
A special package of four event tickets is available for $25. It includes “The History of Candy and Who Ate It” candy tasting and double book signing by Susan Benjamin, author of “Sweet As Sin:The Unwrapped Story” and Seneca County historian Walt Gable, author of “Seneca County and the Civil War” at 7 p.m. on May 12 at The Gridley Inn, 36 W. Main St.
After attending the women’s fashion show and tea, package ticket holders may attend the Civil War Ball at the Waterloo Holiday Inn at 7 p.m. May 14.
As a special bonus, package ticket holders may visit the National Memorial Day Museum, 35 E. Main St. to preview the exhibit of White House china on loan from the Seneca Falls Historical Society, learn its history and receive the recipe pamphlet, “Dainties Without Sugar.”
Tickets for the special package are available at the Waterloo Village Office, 41 W. Main St., and the Waterloo Library and Historical Society, 32 East Williams St. Only 25 tickets will be available for this special package.