Undressing Miss Earnshaw

panniers

A short post to illustrate  the use of clothing to  help  alienate Kathy and Heathcliff in  wuthering heights .In contrast to Charlotte who often describes clothing to delineate character or class or act as a contrast to the characters social positions ,Emily uses clothing in Wuthering heights as a tool within the story,The young Kathy is taken under the wing of the Lintons and effectively given a “Makeover”  which is suited to her new planned life .Once happy to wander across the moors with heathcliff  Kathy does not mind dirt and is something of a tomboy .Once she has been in the company of the Lintons and their friends and been  bought fashionable clothing her priorities shift slightly and  immediately cause friction between the friends  while they eventually  result in the rejection of Heathcliff for Linton.This is very largely  because Kathys new expensive and restrictive clothing will not allow for the rigure of her previous lifestyle, eg Her kid gloves will be ruined forever by making contact with Heathcliffs dirty hands.The more fashionable silk and kid leather shoes have heels and are soft less hard wearing  leather

shoes 1870s

These are obviously not suitable for muddy moors or even farm outbuildings ,they restrict Kathy to the proper domestic sphere of house  and home .Even “outside” attire such as riding habits ,was not intended to be strong enough for heavy daily wear and tear . I have here posted a few images of Kathys before and after wardrobe

“Wild Kathy”

For the real life images I have used the excellent and very pretty images from this site

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kathy

This Kathy probably didn’t wear stays or  full panniers both  would be considered essential for any decent and fashionable  young lady of that time .I  assume kathy could not have had stays which were expensive  and not widely worn by the lower classes . kathy would need a visit by a staymaker or to a town to visit one to have them made and there is no indication that either her brother or his wife take enough interest in her to arrange this and she certainly wouldn’t be able to clamber around the moors in stays and panniers.The most likely underwear  worn by Kathy at this time would be a chemise petticoat and caraco style jacket or waistcoat and blouse,With perhaps padded “bum rolls) to make her skirt stick out slightly .

bustle

Jumps being worn instead of stays.Jumps are being worn by the mannequin in the image below.

1720s embroidered jumps

Jumps vary but were a thick semi supportive bodice ,either stay shaped or waistcoat like,made from either quilted fabric or corded linen  they give some support to the bust but was in no way restrictive, they were worn by young and old and perfectly acceptable wear while at home .The young lady below is obviously not wearing stays but Jumps

younggirlreadingfragonard1 jumps

However for outside wear and certainly in company ladies would have worn both stays and panniers .I have assumed that while at the Grange Kathy was given smart semi formal clothing such as this Robe a la anglaise with a quilted satin petticoat robe a la angalis vam

This would require stays and small pocket panniers corset ,stays 1870s

A more formal Robe a la francais may have been bought ,this was formal wear and slightly less fashionable by the late 1770s but usually worn for formal occasions ,Kathy was almost certainly married to Linton in one.This would require full panniers.Emily was aware of this style of gown and may have seen one at some point as Charlotte describes one in Villette where is used for amatur dramatics .It’s impossible to know how or where it was seen or if   both sisters where present but it is extremely unlikely that the sisters would not have shared information on such an unsual item.

Robes-a-la-francaise-ca_-1770-Met-Costume-Institute-Accession-32_35_2a-b-273x300

The Photograph below shows full though narrow panniers of the kind most usually worn under Robe a la francais

panniers

Kathy would also most likely have worn the more fashionable Polonaise style gowns ,these could be worn with quilted petticoats or with matching petticoats  .Polonaise gowns  did not require panniers but did require equally cumbersome boned  and down filled or stuffed and padded  false rumps and the essential heavily boned stays

polonaise-1

All these outfits would be extreemly expensive and restrictive and most easily damaged and not easily cleaned,Kathy could wear fine new clothes or she could wander the moors and sit on the floor or next to the hearth with Heathcliff but she couldnt do both

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About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
This entry was posted in 18thc, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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