WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — There are no skinny jeans, jerseys or sneakers in these wardrobes. However, there is care, research, and precision in each strand of fabric.
The Costume Design Center at Colonial Williamsburg utilizes modern technology to maintain historical re-creations.
Beverly Prewitt, a cutter draper pattern maker at Colonial Williamsburg, was in the process of fitting a new employee. A new resident to the colonial community will trade t-shirts and flip flops for cravats and waistcoats.
These clothing items also come with rules. Prewitt detailed one of the dress code rules to the new employee: "We always want your coat on in town, unless it’s extremely hot because it would be proper to have a coat on."
Brenda Rosseau, manager of the Costume Design Center, explains that emulating the clothing calls for research but sometimes the information isn't always available. Generally only the very wealthy from that time would have the required information to verify a garment. The majority of the population of Colonial Williamsburg were enslaved and next to no records exist to assist in present-day efforts.
She explained that a Virginia university has compiled data that has helped with verification.
"The way we determine what the largest segment of the population is wearing is by [slave] runaway ads. That’s a database run by the University of Virginia at Wise called the Geography of Slavery," Rosseau said.
This database has information for more than just Virginia. It includes other states and international locations, as well.
The costumes you see at Colonial Williamsburg take more than thimbles and fabric, but also efforts that extend past the Peninsula.