1812 Mourning Gown "Black Widow" :: Part 1
Last year at Baltimore Comic Con, a friend of mine asked me if I was interested in joining her and a few friends in possibly doing a federal period variant of the Marvel Avengers. Excited, I immediately knew who I could cosplay as: Black Widow.
To give you a broad idea of customs in the 18th and 19th century, when a loved one died, the people closest to the deceased would go into a period of mourning. While we still traditionally will wear black at funerals, we'd only wear the outfit for that one day. In the time of our ancestors, they'd wear black, gray, or purple for months-sometimes years. Case in point, when Queen Victoria's husband passed away, she wore her mourning clothing all the way up until her own death. Mourning clothing was also very expensive; having all of your clothing either overdyed black or had to buy a new wardrobe of mourning clothing was very financially taxing (especially for those who were in the lower class).
The wearing of all black. Everything from the morning, day, and even evening wear, the veil to cover the mourner's face and other accessories would be jet black (patterns and fabric types of course did not matter). From a societal standpoint, mourners who were in deep grieving, were more quiet and often withdrawn from socials and other public events. In fact, it was required and would be considered a social taboo if that "rule" was broken.
|Eliza Hamilton with Peggy Schyler|
Unlike the requirements of full mourning, half mourning gave a little more wiggle room for color. Colors mostly being shades of blacks and blues to grays and purples were the ideal colors; think of the colors of a bad bruise. Those in half mourning were able to go outside and function with society more than those were still grieving.
Due to the length of this post, I'll put up the description of my gown's construction in the next post.
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