Today when I put on a long woollen skirt that falls to my mid calf I felt warmed by the weight of the fabric. But as I went about my day I realised why I don't wear the skirt very often. It dragged on the steps outside that were wet as I was carrying things in both hands and couldn't lift it. It dragged on the floor when I sat down. But my skirt is relatively easy compared to those in Maggie Larritt's era of early married life.
In late 1850's Colonial Australia women generally wore voluminous skirts. The ideal skirt shape was aided by a corseted waist and was almost bell shaped thanks to the 'cage' petticoat. The practicalities of managing those skirts would have been extraordinary compared to how we dress now. Today we have almost no threat of catching fire too close to the warmth, no need to lift skirts away from the mud on the streets, and much more I haven't thought of yet.
To the women of Maggie Larritt's time the massive skirt was as normal as making a cup of tea. To me it seems restrictive, annoying and uncomfortable.
The resilience of these women must have been quite impressive. Yet I've found little mention of the everyday difficulties in my researching of the era. The domestic realities. History records significant events yet what about an everyday middle class woman?