Dressed for Travelling, Hiking, and a Visit to the Opera

Packing for the trip through Germany

I really dread packing. My suitcase always seems too small and my clothes inevitably weigh too much. And then I throw in things that I might need and would regret if I hadn’t brought along. The luggage scale is my enemy.

Packing for our trip in Germany was a different challenge. We would be travelling by train and there were no limitations to weight or size, except for the fact that we would have to manage our luggage between trains and hotels. Augusta would probably have packed her outfits in a trunk. Porters and maybe “Lohnbediente” (servants for hire) would have taken care of the luggage.  I imagine that she would have carried a small bag with her on the train, in addition to a reticule or a small purse.

The first thing I did was to buy a new suitcase with a matching bag in an antique-looking paisley pattern.  I was not going to travel with my home-made carpet bag and hat boxes. And definitely, no trunks!

So what kind of clothes did I bring?

  1. One brown wool dress for hiking and inclement weather
  2. One green-and-yellow checkered heavy cotton dress for travelling
  3. Two skirts with white blouses and cardigans – all in thin cotton – for sunny weather
  4. One silk ball-gown for the opera visit and Kerstin’s birthday dinner
  5. One green wool pelerine (short cape covering the shoulders)
  6. Five shawls, three pairs of gloves, and three white collars
  7. Two bonnets and a cotton lace cap
  8. Two petticoats
  9. Pantaloons and silk stockings
  10. Walking shoes and shoes for the opera visit
  11. Emergency jeans, t-shirts, and a puffer jacket, just in case….

In addition, I brought a hand fan, an umbrella, a parasol, opera glasses, a reticule, an embroidered purse, jewelry, hat pins, and hair ribbons.

And then there were guide books, reading material, a diary, and a sketch book; wool for knitting, protein bars for days we might not easily find allergy-suitable food, and emergency kits. Not to mention, lots of safety pins.

And of course, what Augusta could not have dreamt of: iPhones, chargers, and extra batteries.

For the record, I didn’t bring my laced corset even though I spent a lot of time making one. I figured, no one would know and it isn’t a very comfortable piece of clothing.

 What to wear?

Getting dresses in the 1840s took time and one would need help with dresses that had hooks and eyes for closure in the back. One would also need help with braiding and putting up the hair in the style of the times.

Every morning, Kerstin and I picked clothing based on the weather. If it was going to rain or be chilly, the wool dress with a shawl was perfect. For train travelling, I preferred the green-and-yellow checkered cotton dress with the green pelerine. And on a few sunny days in Lubeck, I did have use for my cotton skirts.

So what did I learn?

Shawls are great!

The wool pelerine was very useful when it was drizzling and cold.

Bonnets are great when it is windy and cold.

Fingerless gloves are beautiful and perfect when using an iPhone.

Dupioni (silk), which we used in our ball gowns, is a great fabric – it is very light and it doesn’t wrinkle. Why aren’t more clothes made of this beautiful material?

Walking around in cotton pantaloons (I even bought a pair of flannel pajama paints from H&M – same thing really) under 2 starched petticoats and a dress or a skirt is great! With the layering, you are never too hot or cold. And I loved the rustling sound of the starched petticoats when walking!

One evening, when we had to find a restaurant in Berlin and it was raining, we decided to just put on jeans – returning to present time! There were four revelations: 1. Getting dressed took less than a minute, 2. Walking didn’t make any rustling sound, 3. You almost felt indecent not wearing a full length skirt and no head covering, and 4. You became invisible – you looked like the rest of the people on the sidewalks and no one took any notice of you.

What will I incorporate in my 2017 every-day wardrobe?

Definitely lots of shawls. Fingerless gloves. Clothes made of wool and silk. And when at home, definitely pajama pants!

Album of the wardrobe

The green-and-yellow checkered heavy cotton dress:
The brown wool dress:
The cotton skirts:
The dupioni-silk, ball gown worn at Semperoper in Dresden:
Gloves and a few accessories:
Shawls and bonnets
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