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12 July 2006 @ 04:16 pm
research question  
Can anybody, by any chance, tell me what swimwear (for white women (ie, wives, daughters of plantation owners) specifically) in the Caribbean in the 1650s or so would have been like, or if the whole idea is just so beyond the pale that legions of outraged society mothers would rise up from their graves to castigate me for the idea of sending their precious plantation daughters into the water? I can only get the net to cough up stuff from either pre-Roman times or 18th century on. (In a way it doesn't matter, because I'm planning a semi-fantastical setting and know what I'm going to use already, but I do like to know what conventions I'm breaking, you know?)

We went to see Pirates yesterday (which is not actually what prompts the above question, except in reminding me to ask it), and generally enjoyed it. It was too long and the scene after the credits was not worth staying for, but wow, the kraken was fantastic and Jack's last scene/shot was...now *that* was a pirate. *tud*

...I do so admire people who can turn LJ icons into art. I just think it's cool. This stems from wondering if I could find a Pirates icon of the aforementioned scene (I haven't yet, no surprise) and then just going through lots of icons and ... ok, well, now I'm looking for Rogue icons, but I hain't found none yet. Anyway, I was saying to debela that I wished I could make icons like some of these, and she said don't be silly, I used to be a graphic designer, of course I could, and I said, well, not to my satisfaction, I can't, and she said, "Kit, where evilhat [is the one who] will define the devil's evil as a 'quirk' and explain to me that if you think about it, the guy does come from a pretty good family and has a good education and he has done a lot with what he has, you're the friend who will in fact take home eight nobel prizes in literature, get your art and photography in national galleries and then fuss privately that all of it *could have been done better* and in fact that you could have done more."

Now I want an overachiever icon. :)

Also I want that 'real effing ray of sunshine' icon that Marith said I should have as a t-shirt.

Hm. Maybe I'll go play with iconmaking. :)
Current Mood: goodgood
Current Music: god save the king
Mary Annepers1stence on July 12th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC)
Tara Maginnis (from UAF) has or had a pretty hefty website of costuming stuff online for a while -- Costumer's Manifesto is what she was calling it....
kit: canthavemizkit on July 12th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
She's still got it, but no luck. I tried there already. Thanks, though! :)
Mary Annepers1stence on July 12th, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
I also emailed your query to Anne F, back in Anchorage, to see if she has any ideas or resources in her books, since I know her collection of literature is pretty vast....

Also, the Victoria and Albert museum has a pretty extensive fashion/costume/textile collection (and more links):

And possibly the Museum of Costume in Bath, UK:

If nothing else, they might have a link where you can send queries....
aeriedraconiaaeriedraconia on July 12th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking it was either not accepted for women to go swimming or that they went buck nekkid in 1650.
You could look up Charles I and II and The Commonwealth fashion eras.
R. Scott Shanks, Jr.mnarra on July 12th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC)
In everything I checked, there is a blank spot between 300 AD and the 1800's. I assume, then, that water stopped existing in large enough quantities to bathe in.

Or women swam in their undergarments, which would be my second guess.
Marithmarith on July 12th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC)
*giggles* debela has you pegged. :)

S. L. Grayshadowhwk on July 12th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
*snicker* I have nothing useful to say other than *snicker* at Deborah's comment.

Well, and to agree that I suspect if there was swimming at all, it happened in shifts and bloomers.

And that the scene after the credits was not worth sitting through the (holy beans long) credits.

But hey, Ted and Terry are doin' good, huh?
kit: expertsmizkit on July 12th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
But hey, Ted and Terry are doin' good, huh?

That was on my mind, too, watching the credits. I kept thinking 'damn, and the hits just keep on comin'!' Good on them!
hegemony hedgehogagrimony on July 12th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
My guess is that a girl of breeding would never be swimming, for a few reasons:

1) Tan = bad, common, trampy
2) Water = parasites
3) Naked = bad, common, trampy

That kind of thing. :)
Chrysoulachrysoula on July 12th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm thinking... where would they go swimming? The ocean? Smelly!
Though I believe the clothing designer and some of the fans at Pirates of the Burning Sea could answer you definitively.
Chrysoulachrysoula on July 12th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
I've managed to insert the question into the inner circle... if I hear a response I'll let you know.
kitmizkit on July 25th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
You rule!
Autopopeautopope on July 12th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
You might want to look into what posh people wore when they went to take the waters at Bath or Harrogate, or similar English spa towns. IIRC, by the 18th century they were going fully-clad ... not sure if the baths were in disrepair in the late Elizabethan through Commonwealth period, though. I suspect it may also depend on the religious affiliation of your protagonists?
karistankaristan on July 12th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC)
I'm in the 'women of breeding didn't swim' camp. Bad humours and all that, unless they went to take waters at one during an illness. I did find this, which might help:


Middle Ages to 1800

Swimming was initially one of the seven agilities of knights during the Middle Ages, including swimming with armour. However, as swimming was done in a state of undress, it became less popular as society became more conservative, and it was opposed by the church at the end of the middle ages. For example, in the 16th century, a German court document in the Vechta prohibited the naked public swimming of children. Leonardo da Vinci made early sketches of lifebelts. In 1538 Nicolas Wynman, German professor of languages, wrote the first swimming book "Colymbetes". His goal was not exercise, but rather to reduce the dangers of drowning. Nevertheless, the book contained a very good and methodical approach to learning breaststroke, and includes swimming aids like air filled cow bladders, reed bundles, or cork belts. Around the same time, E. Digby in England also wrote a swimming book, claiming that humans can swim better than fish.

In 1696, the French author Thevenot wrote "The Art of Swimming", describing a breaststroke very similar to the modern breaststroke. This book was translated into English and became the standard reference of swimming for many years to come.
Janne: trekteajanne on July 13th, 2006 07:09 am (UTC)
I googled around a few norwegian pages, assuming you'd done the english, but what I liked most was this quote from approximately your time period that was translated from the history of soap on simplysoap.com:

Queen Elizabeth bathed every three months "whether she needed to or not," and was known as a sophisticated woman! Perfume was generally used to hide offending odors. Water was considered a strange, magical fluid, only trusted if applied by a physician, and that if used incorrectly, could cause sickness or worse. Soon, more doctors prescribed "the water cure," and people found they enjoyed it!

And now I think I'll go back to reading this utterly fascinating (alas norwegian) page about legal handling of extramarital sex in Bergen in 1650...