Dressing the Part
By: Marta Olmos
I have always wanted to make one of those “getting dressed in the past” videos that are popular on YouTube, and at Minute Man I finally got to make this dream a reality! I was able to write, direct, and perform our new educational video, “Getting Dressed in 1775.” Before COVID changed park operations, I was planning on being in costume every day, so I was thoroughly excited at the chance to dress up again.
I had a lot of fun writing the script for the video. I wanted to address two themes: the different layers worn by women at the time, and the ways that clothing reflected the complexities of colonial identity. 18th century Massachusetts was both British and not-British, the result of over a century of cultural divergence. Colonial citizens were both proud of their place in the empire, and frustrated by it. These tensions can be seen in their clothing choices. One of the biggest manifestations of this complexity was fabric choice. The colonies had a long and complicated relationship with British fabric. Mercantilist policies favored British manufacturing and saw the colonies as a captive market for British goods. Legislation like the Wool Act of 1699 limited sales of textiles manufactured in the colonies and forced colonists to rely on British exports. These tensions continued throughout the colonial period, and contributed to the textile boycotts during the non-importation movement and the rise in homespun clothing.
This project ended up being a lot more challenging than I initially imagined. I was responsible for the entire creative design of the project, which was something I had never done before. We ended up having to do a re-shoot because of technical errors, but ultimately I think the project was a success. It will be available on the website and on social media, as well as distributed in the park’s educational packets.