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Fun with Costume Design! Day 3

This is part three of a series showing how costume design and literature can be easily integrated.

3. Look at class distinctions

My costume design professor taught me this: Credit cards helped make the distinction between rich and middle class/poor less obvious because people could purchase clothing outside their budget. In the past, though, clothing was an obvious sign of wealth, rank, and class. During the Victorian Era (1837-1901), a person’s class and income often indicated what they would wear. If a text doesn’t clearly state a person’s clothing description, keep track of the character’s class status. When the third ghost takes Scrooge to the slums, these characters are introduced: “Let the charwoman alone to be the first!” cried she who had entered first. “Let the laundress alone to be the second; and let the undertaker’s man alone to be the third. Look here, old Joe, here’s a chance! If we haven’t all three met here without meaning it!” (Dickens). The laundress, the charwoman, and the undertaker’s man are low class, and their costumes are not described. However, knowing their positions will help you research their probable looks.

In addition to keeping a list of details, keep a chart of the characters and their class. Not only will you see the difference in costume, but you'll also probably discover patterns in the plots and subplots that help connect the story. Love the idea of giving your teen an experience that combines art, movement, and literature? Check out the online homeschool literature class that begins January 22.

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