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  • Period clothing similarities and differences

    Hello, all. I haven't been on Casebook in a very long time, and I'm glad to see some people are still around!

    I was just reading a few of the basic write-ups about each victim. I was struck by the fact that none of us living today are familiar with the various terminology used to describe the men seen by various witnesses at various murder sites. For that matter, the descriptions of the victims' clothing is something I just kind of skim over, as I don't really know what a "chemise" or an "underpocket" was.

    It started me wondering if anyone had ever gone through the descriptions, looked up said clothing, and drawn what the various items are. For example, with Liz Stride, there's a description of her leaving a pub with a man "wearing a billycock hat, mourning suit and coat." I have no idea what any of those things look like. Then later, she's seen with a man "in a short black cutaway coat and sailor's hat." Again, no idea.

    I think it would be helpful to compare the witness accounts if we had a better idea of how similar or different the men's clothing was. Is a billycock hat really different from a deerstalker? I need to know.​

  • #2
    Hi.

    A Billycock hat is almost akin to a Bowler hat - very similar.

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    It is very different to a Deer Stalker:

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    Morning suit (c 1900)

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    Author of 'Jack the Ripper: Threads' out now on Amazon > UK | USA | CA | AUS
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    • #3
      Thank you! There are so many terms...I may just compile a list myself and look them up. I wondered if anyone had drawings of the men seen with the victims, like showing their height, clothing, etc. It might be interesting to have such a thing!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JuliaH View Post
        Thank you! There are so many terms...I may just compile a list myself and look them up. I wondered if anyone had drawings of the men seen with the victims, like showing their height, clothing, etc. It might be interesting to have such a thing!
        That would be helpful, and made me wonder why this hasn't been attempted previously.

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        • #5
          Jane Coram's pics - Casebook: Jack the Ripper Forums

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JuliaH View Post
            Thank you! There are so many terms...I may just compile a list myself and look them up. I wondered if anyone had drawings of the men seen with the victims, like showing their height, clothing, etc. It might be interesting to have such a thing!
            That's a great idea, Julia!

            I remember when I first became interested in the case having to Google various clothing terminologies which I was completely unfamiliar with.

            I seem to recall this included "Ulster", "Lindsay frock", and "stays" in relation to the victims and "ashtraken" and "billycock hat" in relation to men seen with the victims.

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            • #7
              For centuries, people wore a simple bag, strapped around their waists, to carry their bits and pieces in (think the money bags you always see in fantasy films).

              But having bags of money and other trinkets on show made you susceptible to opportunistic thieves. So many people began wearing these bags under their clothes.

              And so the "underpocket" was born.

              Underpockets were simple fabric bags of cotton or linen. They are strapped around a person's waist (or sometimes to a thigh), under their clothes. Often, clothing had slits you could reach through to get to the items in the underpocket. Later on, the pocket was stitched on to the piece of clothing to make the pockets we are familiar with today.

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              • #8
                https://clothingtextiles.ualberta.ca/dhe_chemise-dress/#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9Cchemise%20dress%E2%80%9D%2 0designation%20usually,universal%20underwear%20for %20Western%20women.

                This link may answer questions about the chemise. Today it is a nighgown or slip, but in historical times it was a neck to feet undergarment, known as a "chemise dress", which was put on before the regular dress or skirt and shirtwaist.

                Edited to add: People were considered "naked" if they were only wearing their chemise, so newspaper accounts using "naked" might not mean the same state of undress we think of now.
                Last edited by Pcdunn; 05-14-2023, 10:57 PM.
                Pat D. https://forum.casebook.org/core/imag...rt/reading.gif
                ---------------
                Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JuliaH View Post
                  Then later, she's seen with a man "in a short black cutaway coat and sailor's hat." Again, no idea.
                  I'm interested in this one as witnesses said the man seen running off from the Farmer attack was wearing a dark cutaway coat. From what i can find a cutaway seems to be longer at the back and cutaway diagonally both sides at front (so buttoned to about the waste then cutting away both sides). There was also a 'hard felt hat' worn but not sure how this compares to something like a billycock.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pcdunn View Post
                    https://clothingtextiles.ualberta.ca/dhe_chemise-dress/#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9Cchemise%20dress%E2%80%9D%2 0designation%20usually,universal%20underwear%20for %20Western%20women.

                    This link may answer questions about the chemise. Today it is a nighgown or slip, but in historical times it was a neck to feet undergarment, known as a "chemise dress", which was put on before the regular dress or skirt and shirtwaist.

                    Edited to add: People were considered "naked" if they were only wearing their chemise, so newspaper accounts using "naked" might not mean the same state of undress we think of now.
                    Going from memory, but wasn't there a discrepancy between Bond and Phillips as to Kelly being no naked or not? Perhaps the above is one explanation for this discrepancy?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Aethelwulf View Post

                      I'm interested in this one as witnesses said the man seen running off from the Farmer attack was wearing a dark cutaway coat. From what i can find a cutaway seems to be longer at the back and cutaway diagonally both sides at front (so buttoned to about the waste then cutting away both sides). There was also a 'hard felt hat' worn but not sure how this compares to something like a billycock.
                      A Billycock is a type of bowler formed from felt and hardened the same as a bowler.
                      There were many styles of 'hard-felt hats', all the crowns being of various heights.
                      Cutaway coats were a common & popular type of casual wear in the late 19th century.
                      Regards, Jon S.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mpriestnall View Post

                        Going from memory, but wasn't there a discrepancy between Bond and Phillips as to Kelly being no naked or not? Perhaps the above is one explanation for this discrepancy?
                        Pcdunn is correct but regardless, a corpse found wearing a shredded chemise can still be described as naked. I can't see why this should be seen as a discrepancy, its just an issue of terminology.
                        The most interesting point that we can deduce from this description is that Kelly was entertaining. Which also explains the need for a fire.
                        Prater, and was it Cox?, also speak or allude to going to bed fully clothed. This was normal practice for the poorer end of society, the fact Kelly was found in her chemise speaks more likely she was scantily dressed because she was with a client. Not, that she was dressed for bed. This conclusion is too influenced by modern practices of wearing a nightdress for bed, but the modern house, or bedroom is commonly warm. This was absolutely not the case in these tenanted hovels of the East End.
                        People went to bed fully clothed.
                        Therefore, there was no intruder, no burglar, no uninvited stranger, Kelly had brought her assailant home with her and intended to entertain her guest.
                        Regards, Jon S.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wickerman View Post

                          This was absolutely not the case in these tenanted hovels of the East End.
                          People went to bed fully clothed.
                          There was also the broken window Wick. Which, despite being stuffed with a rag would have let some cold, on a dank and rainy November night into the room .

                          Regards Darryl

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