Revisited Myth # 34: Colonial women were put in the pillory for the crime of showing their ankles.

History Myths Debunked

Punishment:  Karen Clancey Steve Hollaway 2001 CWJ. Photo By David M Doody

While there have been many instances throughout history when women didn’t bare their ankles, the colonial era was not one of them. “Skirt length,” says Linda Baumgarten, curator of textiles at Colonial Williamsburg, “was a matter of both fashion and occasion. Formal clothing usually has longer skirts. Work clothing was nearly always shorter for practical reasons.” For example, polonaise style gowns in the 1770s and early 1780s are shorter and reveal plenty of ankle. And during the work day, a woman might hike up her skirt and tuck the hem into her waist to get it out of the way. No one went to the pillory for showing her ankles.

P.S. I loved this picture so much, we used it on the back cover of DEATH BY PETTICOAT.

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