Fashion of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Chapter 4.

When I was reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond for the first time as a 6th grade class assignment, I must confess that I was either bored or confused by the first few chapters. I suspect the vocabulary words were too hard for me and the historical references to Royalists, Charles I, and Roudheads were beyond my 11 year old grasp. This was the chapter that initiated me into Kit Tyler’s world.

In an attempt to bond with her cousins Judith and Mercy Wood, Kit Tyler opens her seven traveling trunks, revealing her fashionable wardrobe to her cousins’ delight. Born and raised in Puritanical Connecticut Colony, clothed all their lives in rough, homespun calico, Judith and Mercy have never seen such finery.

For years, I’ve regarded this scene as pure, bubblegum fun. It reminded me of buying a new dress and showing off to the exclamations of squealing girlfriends. Lately, I’ve become more and more interested in the contents of Kit Tyler’s wardrobe, so I took an inventory:

A baroque lady’s wardrobe consisted of finely embroidered gloves, a handsome gown of filmsy silk with five slits in the sleeves, a bright peacock blue paduasoy, a delicate English shawl as soft as a kitten’s fur, feathered bonnets, leather kid boots, and a velvet traveling cloak.

Baroque fashion was represented by excessive displays of wealth; garments were dripping with jewels, every inch of fabric was covered with elaborate embroidery, delicate lace, mother of pearl bodices. I imagine Kit Tyler strutting like a bejeweled peacock amongst a colony of calicoed sparrows. Her flowered silk give her the look of some “vivid tropical bird lighted by mistake on a strange shore” (51).

1 thought on “Fashion of Blackbird Pond”

  1. Lovely fashion finds! Regarding the shoes, one must simply imagine the toil and trouble it took to make them, and the ho hum attitude of its rich wearer. One misstep in the mud, and all that work is ruined. The mind boggles.

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