Oh, my Bonnets and Bustles!
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boning. Corsets had to be worn from early childhood on. And the weight of the whole assembly - including hoop skirt - was between 14 pounds in summer and 20 pounds in winter, even indoors, to keep the body heat close. To call that restricting would be an understatement; dangerous is more fitting.

The frills, embellishments, trimmings, ruff and other decorations often ignited on open flames from candles or fireplaces and set the highly flammable fabrics on fire faster than they could be stripped off - no zippers or velcro back then. Running away from dangerous situations was nearly impossible. Everyday events like descending stairs became an act of balance.

Paulette Grune explains further that women had to change up to four or five times per day, depending on time and occasion. And during mourning periods they could wear black only, for up to one year depending on the relationship with the deceased.

A street scene re-enactment was rudely disturbed by a gang of unconventionally carefree - for the period - dressed suffragettes, carrying

 

pickets that demand "Votes for Women". Their dresses were noticeably lighter, less complicated and obviously more suited to the new role women were about to assume in society. Their appearance symbolized the end of an era, but not the end for this fashion show. Which would turn into an unexpectedly happy one.

The Silver Strings, a quartet of musicians from the Carson City Symphony, provided tunes from the period for a scene of evening dancing. Many in the audience, although sitting, moved along with the beat of the music and it was easy to tell from the gleam on their eyes that this was their favorite part of the show.

At the end of the dancing the male partner of one of the couples knelt down in front of his sweetheart, produced a ring from his coat's pocket and asked her to marry him. She said yes. The audience applauded, pleased with the idea of including this little scene into the evening dance.

Then they learned that it was not rehearsed or part of the show in any way. Ignacio Gonzales and Jena Wilcox got engaged to be married at the end of the "Oh, my Bonnets and Bustles!" fashion show at the Nevada State Museum. Congratulations!

The show itself was a fundraiser benefitting the State Museum and the Carson City Historical society. Encouraged by the success of this show, as well as previous ones, plans to ad a second show per year are being discussed.

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