24 January 2015

Getting ready for the Victorian age

When I came to Wales and joined the Thursday Nighters, they were just getting ready for a fancy dress trip down one of the local mines. It sounded fab! But I only heard about a week in advance, and figured I wouldn't get an outfit together on such short notice. But I wasn't keen to let the next episode pass me by. So as soon as it was announced I started gathering kit. I figured I could well wear a dress that had passed as a Florence Nightingale outfit many years earlier. It was a bit historical fantasy, but hey, I doubted that the standards would be historical reenactment-like. I had seen pictures of ladies in wellies! So the dress was sorted. I did have headgear with it, but I couldn't find it. So I still had to sort headgear, light (+ backup), and shoes. And I figured I'd have to hitch my skirts a lot; a pair of Victorian bloomers would save at least some of my modesty.

I found an apron + bonnet combination on eBay; I figured the bonnet was big enough to cover my hair, and the apron would make the dress look more Victorian. Some fancy dress bloomers were easily found too. And I found a pair of Victorian-looking ankle boots (that is, seen from the outside; the inside has a zip). And a carbide lamp with some parts missing, and a replica miner's safety paraffin lamp. I was sorted! I decided to try the lot on to see it if still needed some work. I think it's a success! It will be quite a challenge to do the actual trip, with heels, and long skirts, and a lamp in my hand, and another hand for hitching up skirts so as not to trip over them. That's two hands sorted. None left to hold on to a helpful man or a handy chain or whatnot. And where to put any luggage? I'll need to put my spare light somewhere.

Some think I'm being daft for making it so hard on myself. But I think it's a good societal experiment; women were seen as frail and vulnerable. Unfit for venturing underground! Physically inferior, and feeble of mind. And to a certain extent; they (we!) still are seen like that. And I want to see to what extent that becomes true if you wear what society pretty much would demand you to wear. I expect to become scared of slipping and tripping, to become clumsy and slow, and to need help from a man. And only because of the boots and skirts. The men can wear trousers and hobnailed boots! If I can wear my caving kit I stand my ground effortlessly. Let's become an acceptably dressed lady, to see if that is enough to indeed make me inferior, and to enjoy even more the freedom to just wear the kind of kit that is suitable to the occasion on normal days underground!

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