The Physicks' distinctive home illustrates their changing tastes as well as the particulars of the Victorian lifestyle in Cape May. Courtesy of the Mid AtlanticCenter for Arts Cape May
NEW THEME FOR 2012: What Those Victorians Wore
In the 1860s, women wore a wire cage under their skirts to give them a dome shape. In the 1880s they wore a shelf in the back to make their behinds stick out a foot. They wore woolen long johns all summer long, up to five layers of underwear and so many buttons, flounces, fringes, pleats, and gathers on their clothes that they looked upholstered like a sofa. Because social class was so fluid during the 19th century – you could be born poor and rise to the middle class or you could be born middle class and become rich – people were always imitating the clothing of richer people. As soon as this happened, the rich people would move on to something else and the cycle would start again. Eventually even servants were wearing corsets and bustles or crinolines. Fashions changed faster and faster during the 1800s.Why were these people so strange? Weren’t they hot? Didn’t they stink? Find out during tours of the Emlen Physick Estate beginning April 27.