At a fashion show featuring about 10 reenactors Saturday afternoon in the midday sun, the women in seven layers of cotton handled the question with grace.
“We’re no hotter than you are, standing out in 90 degree weather,” said Sherry Key, who modeled in the fashion show and has been participating in reenactments for 20 years. “All of (the) clothing works together, and you get an evaporative, cooling effect.”
In fact, Key said, there are benefits to the 19th-century uniform of long sleeves and long skirts for women and suits for men.
Key said she doesn’t get bug bites or sunburns because neither bugs nor the sun can get to her skin. And the long skirt allows a cooling breeze to come through every once in a while.
As men and women dressed in the styles of the 1800s paraded across a stage at the Kennesaw National Battlefield Park on Saturday, about 100 spectators watched in awe of their complicated style.
Katherine Bennett, who is a public relations specialist at Kellen Communications in Sandy Springs, said she didn’t know how the women onstage could take the heat.
“I feel sorry for those women,” Bennett said. “It makes me appreciate how far women’s clothing has come.”
One woman in the crowd, Rachel Camp, a 21-year-old senior at Emmanuel College from Smyrna, attended the weekend event in Civil War-era fashion by choice. She said she found a pattern for a dress, bought the fabric, paid a seamstress $160 to make it, bought a $20 hoop skirt and her outfit was complete.
“I’m still trying to decide which is hotter: seven layers of cotton or one layer of wool,” Camp said, comparing her clothing to that of the soldiers of the period.
Key, an executive assistant at Cherry Bekaert CPA from Aiken, S.C., said dressing up is her hobby, and she travels across the country to share information about clothing styles from centuries ago.
“I made pretty much everything I’m wearing, except my shoes and my corset,” Key said. “It’s a hobby, an avocation and a passion.”
A young spectator, Taylor Clay, 11, said she would only dress up in seven layers and a long-sleeve dress for Halloween.
“I don’t know if I’d be able to survive in those clothes,” Clay said.
The models in the fashion show agreed they enjoy teaching about the history of America’s style, as well as its culture. Chris Rucker, a physician from Boiling Springs, S.C., who modeled a white suit in the fashion show, said he goes to reenactments to entertain and to teach.
“I love to educate people,” Rucker said. “It’s important to know where you’ve been so you don’t go there again.”