Here I am next to the sign on the remains of the Gerrit Smith estate in Peterboro, New York.
The Original Bloomer
This is my new crusade. For years, like most other people I always assumed that Amelia Bloomer invented this chic outfit. A few years ago I happened to read the sign in Peterboro, New York (only 3 miles from my home). Which states:
Elizabeth Smith Miller introduced the bloomer costume. Bloomerism became the most important dress reform of the 19th century. Who was this Miller woman? I had never heard of her. Well that started it. I also decided to take my son to the Civil War Days they hold in June. As always I needed to decide on a costume. When I contacted the director of the event. she thought a Bloomer in the camp sounded great. I also was asked to give a storytelling speech. I had to do a lot of research and the amount I learned about early feminism was very interesting indeed. Please check out the history of the bloomer. Anyone interested in womens rights or costume can find something to get them sparked.
Showing a little ankle. How risque!
The costume that I made is more reminisent of Amelia Bloomer. The hat is just like a photo that I saw of her. Some other interesting history is just down the road from Peterboro in Oneida, New York.
The Oneida Community founded by John Humprey Noyes has a great tour of the Mansion and some original pantellete costumes.
This is the newest bloomer outfit. I tried to make what ESMiller would have worn herself. From looking at the photos of her and talking to the experts on the Smith-Miller families, I think I came up with something very similar to the original outfit that was made in Peterboro NY.
The outfit is black silk satin. Seperate bodice with pointed waist, watch pocket and pieced sleeves with cuff design I took from an original pantellete outfit belonging to the Oneida Community Mansion. The under blouse is white cotton in the girabaldi style. Turkish trousers. There is some debate still on the original fabric. It may have been cotton broadcloth. ESMiller's father was nororious for his dislike of extravagance but on the other hand ESMiller herself was drawn to the trendy styles and fabrics. She even states herself that she turned away from the bloomers because of her love of beauty. Although she never corseted or wore a bustle.
Here is what may have been the house ESMiller lived in during the years she first donned the bloomers. It is directly across the green from the site of the Smith Mansion. The house, by the way was deeded to ESMiller's son in 1850 by Gerrit Smith. He was only 4 years old! The tailor of Peterboro lived at the other end of the green and supposedly helped ESMiller design the first outfit. There is rumor that the tailor's sons went on to help establish Marshall Field Department store.
Had to put this photo in. I just love it. Those are both my rugrats and myself on the Peterboro green during the Peterboro Civil War Weekend.