Jenny La Fleur
Under the Redcoat report - Jenny La Fleur
adventures in costuming
Under the Redcoat report

Yesterday was fun. I made it through “Under the Redcoat”, despite being “taken into custody” once and hassled by soldiers all day. :> I don’t think I’ve actually explained this event to y’all, have I? Well I had no idea of what I’d volunteered for until last week and really had no idea what to expect until I got there!

Under the Redcoat is a program Colonial Williamsburg hosts every year. Revolutionary War reenacting units from all over are invited to participate in the weekend’s events. The year is 1781 and the events portrayed take place during the ten-day period that Williamsburg was under British occupation (by Gen Cornwallis on his way to Yorktown). So, a camp is set up on the market green, barricades are erected everywhere and soldiers (and some sailors) roam the streets. Anyone in 18th century clothing is subject to interrogation and search and those without “papers”, refusing to take the Loyalty Oath or caught with contraband can be detained and even sent to the courthouse to be tried. Behind the scenes there is one unit whose job it is to portray American patriots. There is a designated spy, a few identified deserters and others whose job it is to smuggle arms and other contraband out of town. In conclusion, it is a weekend where a bunch of adults get to play dress up and play war games, all in the sight of and for the education and amusement of the public.

We hadn’t been there long when my “Auntie Tina”, approached a friend of hers, not knowing this friend had just been arrested for not having papers. Tina and I, who didn’t have papers either being unregistered participants, were “taken into custody” and marched off the Provost-Marshal’s post as well. We were padded down, our baskets searched and after declaring loyalty to the King given a pass. Everyone was very nice about it, helped by my Auntie’s flirting and offerings of biscuits no doubt. :> We were stopped constantly through the day though to have our papers checked and our baskets searched, both inside and outside the barricades. Despite our polite compliance, more flirting and biscuit offerings some were pleasant about it and some were not - as Tina said “some people are taking this WAY too seriously” – but we had fun. We toured a few of the buildings, had our lunch of cheese, fruit and fresh bread under a large tree, watched the play in the outdoor theater, had some light refreshments at a tavern and generally strolled about town talking with costumed friends of Tina and the public.

I was complimented on my gown a lot, people being particularly impressed with the effect of the pleated stripes in back, which was very gratifying if unexpected. :> I even had one gal come up and say that she recognized me from my web site and thanked me for the help of one of my dress diaries! That was bit of a shock but I have to admit it totally made my day. I guess it’s pretty hard to miss me in that red stripe, aye? *grin*

Tina’s mom (who was not in costume) took pictures of our arrest, I do hope some of those turn out. :> The weather was of course hot and humid, although we had some cloud cover most of the morning, and I’m feeling the effect of an early morning yesterday, a long day in the heat and a slight case of dehydration today. However I managed to come away without a sunburn – yay! *throws confetti*

I think that next year I’d like to go as a member of the public, to see what it’s like from the other side. The experience did get me thinking about what it would be like to live in an hostilely occupied city though. I watched a movie set in Nazi occupied Rome earlier this week and thought as I watched how horrible that must have been. Having had a little taste of it yesterday was an interesting experience. It brought home a bit how precious freedom really is and how grateful I am to those who had the will and courage to fight for it and those who are still willing to continue the fight today.

To those men and women, past and present, I lift my glass and offer a most humble thank you.

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23 comments | comment?
padawansguide From: padawansguide Date: June 26th, 2005 11:36 am (UTC) (link)
You look lovely in your gown!

Getting searched is tiresome. The guards at the gate where I work do random searches and it's a pain in the butt. There are less of them now - but after 9/11 they were really often. It would be hard to have that just on the street!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 26th, 2005 06:49 pm (UTC) (link)
Thanks Maggie!

Yeah after just part of a day those random searches were really starting to get on my nerves. :>
From: lindseyerin37 Date: June 26th, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC) (link)
What an interesting concept for an event! And you look lovely in those pictures! The hat just sets everything off perfectly.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 26th, 2005 06:52 pm (UTC) (link)
Thanks so much! :> Yeah the hat looked a little plain (if silk can ever look "plain" :>) but with the whole outfit it was just enough.
gilded_garb From: gilded_garb Date: June 26th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC) (link)
I'm just in love with that dress! :o) Every time you add something new, it just gets even more stunning.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 26th, 2005 06:54 pm (UTC) (link)
*grin* I'm pretty partial to the dress myself. It's hard to go wrong with a striped 18th century frock, huh? *wink* Thanks so much! :>
From: misselisabethr Date: June 26th, 2005 03:06 pm (UTC) (link)
Glad you had fun( as much as you can have!) I love the dress!

Miss E.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 26th, 2005 06:55 pm (UTC) (link)
Thanks much! :>

Love the icon by the way *wink*
ktlovely From: ktlovely Date: June 26th, 2005 04:26 pm (UTC) (link)
Oh, wow! You look spectacular--so "at home" in the surroundings, too. :D I never posted about the hat (eek, I'm sorry!) but it looks beautiful, too.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 26th, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC) (link)
Thank you Katie! *blushes* I'm glad you like the hat too... you'll be seeing it often. :>
From: misselisabethr Date: June 27th, 2005 03:37 am (UTC) (link)
[quote]Love the icon by the way *wink* quote

You mean the tinted photo? I just changed it (I'm one of those eho has to change things every week practically) I have a computer collection of those which reaches over 100 hard to choose you knw!

Still great dress!

Mss E.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 27th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC) (link)
Yes the tinted one. Very nice indeed! :>
From: misselisabethr Date: June 27th, 2005 05:23 pm (UTC) (link)
thank you thank you thank you! I tinted it myself! (on the CPU that is)

is your pic you are a movie scene or a photo of somone else?

Miss E.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 27th, 2005 05:53 pm (UTC) (link)
My icon is from a lovely film called L’Anglaise et le Duc. Many, many drool worthy frocks but the one pictured in the icon is my favorite. I can't resist stripes you know! :>

PS - FYI, you can reply to individual comments instead of starting whole new threads under a post. Just hit the "reply to this" at the bottom of any comment instead of using the "comment?" button at the bottom of the post. It can be less confusing to carry on a longer exchange that way. *smile*
From: misselisabethr Date: June 28th, 2005 04:49 am (UTC) (link)
oops! I didn't think it mattered! I replied to this one! ;) WINK

That movie looks good! I like that type of stripes too! It's hard to find good stripes! My question is: were stripes usually worn on everyday type dresses? Or did fancy dresses have them too? I'm *SOMETIME* going to make a colonial ballgown using the butterick pattern, but need to know if stripes were worn with that type of dress.
I TOLD you I talk a lot!! MORE WINKS
Miss E. :)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 28th, 2005 05:35 am (UTC) (link)
My question is: were stripes usually worn on everyday type dresses? Or did fancy dresses have them too?

Stripes were very popular indeed and were used for just about everything, ball gowns included. :> I may wear this red striped gown to a ball actually; depending on if I have time to make something new or not. *wink*

A stripe would be appropriate for the Butterick pattern, although it's hard to make out exactly what that pattern is suppose to portray. I think the consensus on H-cost was that it was a simplified late court mantua gown, sewn together in a very modern way with modern fabrics. Depending on what your costume is for you may want to consider using a more period accurate pattern such as JP Ryan or Period Impressions... :>
From: misselisabethr Date: June 28th, 2005 11:06 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks, ad yet another question (am I annoying or what?!) did ladies wear actuall hoops under their dresses at the time, or just lots of petticoats? I can never find onfo about that. Also, what shape was the skirt supposed to be (I mean what shape when talking about the poofy ones, NOT the fake hips) was is more a belled skirt? Or round like 1800s?
I REALLY am sorro for buggin you to death! ;) but I'm going to study that period soon, hense me making a costume, hense I need info! ;) ;) WINKS WINKS WINKS

Miss E.
From: misselisabethr Date: June 28th, 2005 11:40 am (UTC) (link)
p.S. I forgot to add. I saw you're a homeschool grad! WOOOO HOOO! I'm a homeschooler too!


Miss E.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 28th, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC) (link)
Hey, you won't learn if you don't ask! :> As far as hoops vs petticoats, skirt shapes and such - it depends on when exactly in the 18th century you are referring. :> If you can show me a pic or an approximate date of the style you are looking at I can probably give a better answer. If you want to e-mail me (mistress (at), I'll forward a list of good books for researching this type of info as well. Don't forget to change the (at) to @! :>

PS - Yep, homeschooling totally rocks! :>
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 28th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC) (link)

So great looking!

I can barely stand how beautiful this is! And how much it looks like there are somehow digital pictures from history. Your hat is the perfect compliment to the dress.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 29th, 2005 04:52 am (UTC) (link)

Re: So great looking!

*blushes* Thanks so much! :>
pinkdiamond From: pinkdiamond Date: July 4th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC) (link)
Yay! Photos in context:) Looks really lovely:) I was wanting to comment earlier but it just never seemed right.

Looks really lovely:)

I know what it's like to be recognised;) I never thought it would happen, but it's happened twice here in NZ;) It's a really odd feeling eh?
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 5th, 2005 06:37 am (UTC) (link)
Thank you so much! :>

Definitely an odd feeling. Websites are largely anonymous, you never really know who is looking at them or if they are appreciated or helpful. It was bit of a shock at first but that quickly turned into a nice, warm feeling. Very, very cool! *grin*

Thanks again!
23 comments | comment?