These historical comments are meant to be helpful in a general way and are not to be taken as definitive or exclusive for the periods discussed. If you have any questions, please e-mail us. We will try to clarify matters if possible. We are also including some interesting online sources of historical information. Several are also related to historical costume sites where items can be purchased. We have no connection to any of these sites and merely offer them as potentially helpful and informative, most do not pertain to dollhouse miniatures as such.
When dressing a doll, always think about the time they come from. Our clothing reflects not just our own personal style, but also our society. Dresses became shorter at the end of the Victorian period and into the Edwardian because of social changes. Women were entering the workforce and moving about more freely. Their clothing had to follow suit. After all, the famous Victorian fainting couch was a real necessity when you were so corseted up you couldn't breathe. Fainting would not impress a boss however. This is just one real example of how our clothing had to change with the times. I hope this example also gets you interested in the history behind clothing. Enjoy your research.
Coin purses were little reticule type purses. Both men and women throughout history used them. Paper money was not popular or dominant even as late as 1776 when the United States was founded. To carry their coin money, men used coin purses, little sacks with ties. When paper money became more popular, the billfold appeared which was the first type of wallet.
When deciding to make a historically accurate outfit in miniature, remember to leave an appropriate area in the scene free and open to place the doll into. You might even want to make the doll's costume first and then build the scene around it. For example, if you are making a period French doll with the super wide side skirts, you might want to leave out a few pieces of furniture to give room for the skirt. Dollhouses and room boxes have limited space. A costume such as this would take up a lot of extra space so be sure to plan for it. Or you could scale back on the width just a little to merely give the impression of the wide skirts.
Here are a few places to find historical clothing information and pictures:
Society for Creative Anachronism
Regency period clothes