Sunday, November 21, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 12: India's Twelve Oaks Dress

Ah, India Wilkes, she of pale lashless eyes and vengeful heart.  Well, it turns out that even a GWTW villain gets a historically inspired costume, albeit a rather plain one in keeping with  her aforementioned villain status.

On the other side of the jump, you'll find a period fashion plate that resembles India's matronly outfit from the Twelve Oaks barbecue--a tan dress with a prim lace cap. Check it out and let us know what you think! 

Tan dress, April 1865. Godey's Lady's Book.

Close up of dress.

Description from Godey's Lady's Book: Fawn-colored spring poplin, open at the back the same as in front, and showing a skirt of blue silk. The epaulettes, cuffs, and band round the neck are of blue silk, the same as the underskirt. White silk drawn bonnet, trimmed with blue ribbons and flowers, also a fall of blonde lace. 

Screenshots of India Wilkes' Twelve Oaks barbecue dress in Gone with the Wind.


  1. I’ve always been a fan of India’s brown dress, despite its simplicity. I think the capelet and matching cape are so pretty. I remember the first time I saw Gone with the Wind on DVD (instead of VHS), one of the most memorable things for me was noticing that India’s jewellery was set with turquoises, one of my favourite stones.
    I think the dress from the plate is a nice match, though I get the idea that such a fairly simple style, trimmed with lace and buttons, would have been fairly popular and easily copied. I wonder how MM envisioned Honey Wilkes and how she would’ve been presented in the film, had they included her. I get the idea her and India were very much chalk and cheese and that Honey dressed so as to be appealing to men. I wonder why it is she couldn’t get anyone but Charles (and later the man she married). Is it because she was such a boy crazy flirt? We know Scarlett thinks so, and she is often biased in her views, but I get the idea it was a widely held view. Before the war, wouldn’t India and Honey have had some future inheritance that would’ve attracted more suitors?

  2. Well, I don't think Honey was very attractive in general, b/c she gave the impression she was such an easy catch. Also, we're told (by Beatrice Tarleton) that the Wilkes women, unlike Wilkes men, were not too good-looking. But I think the reason she was to marry Charles was more about the fact that the Wilkes usually married their cousins, rather than that Charles was a bad catch (which I don't think he was, really). It makes me wonder why India didn't have a cousin lined up to marry her too (I can't remember if we discussed this before. I remember discussing it with someone from the fandom. Hmm...).

    As for the inheritance thing, in the real world it would have probably been a factor to consider, no doubt. In MM's idyllic antebellum South however, everyone seemed to have a good fortune behind them, so this reasoning would not apply to any of the County boys. I am also not sure how the inheritance thing went: if besides the dowry, girls were entitled to a part of the family land when their parents died? Did it all go to the first born?

  3. The topic of inheritance is quite an interesting one to me. Apart from in Charles’ case, it’s hardly touched upon in GWTW. I think that in looking into inheritance, Ripley’s book needs to be ignored altogether. I have read that it was common for estates to be divided into the number of siblings, but the way Ripley did it, I very much doubt. After the War I feel families would’ve understood just how important it was to stick together, to avoid going under. There’s was never any talk of “this is Scarlett’s share”, “this is Suellen’s share” and “this is Carreen’s share.” Scarlett would’ve had a blind fit before allowing Carreen to give up her third share in Tara, and I doubt Carreen would’ve been sneaky enough or dishonest enough to sign over the share without a word.
    The impression I get from the novel is that the property was never divided. Suellen got to live on it, while Scarlett paid for its upkeep. While Scarlett was fairly ruthless in her treatment of her family members, she had an almost abnormal sense of family and family duty. She had been raised in the tradition of old fashioned Southern families (where it was quite usual to have an elderly uncle or aunt come to Sunday dinner and stay until they were buried years later) and it seems like there wasn’t much of a notion of mine and yours, but rather ours. Gerald said he would leave Tara to Scarlett, but even if he had, I doubt very much she would have seen it as anything other than the family home.
    I read a fair bit about the whole matter of inheritance, though I can’t remember where. But what I read was basically that these fortunes weren’t long-lasting due to the nature of inheritance practices at the time. What I read was that it was standard to divide equally amongst offspring, male and female. Hence, in a family like the Tarletons (who had more money than anyone in the County – I think) the fortune had to be divided in eight. Even say one child had died, but had married and started a family, that child’s portion would go to his/her family.
    I might be totally wrong, but I will check my sources.

  4. This is indeed very interesting. From the way Charles' inheritance is handled, it does look as if the family's fortune was divided equally between siblings. But that would be so impractical when it comes to plantations. Also, Gerald seemed convinced he could unite Tara and the Tarleton plantation (Fairhill?). We need to look into this.

  5. Oh, I found my source. There is a message board called Straight Dope, and there was a long series of comments and I printed off and it was about twenty pages total. One of the commenters was called Sampiro and she seemed quite the authority and she talked about her research and how she had come to that understanding. I think the last post was made in May 2009 and they talk about, among other things, Scarlett breastfeeding, Ellen being an ice queen and all the unauthorised sequels they had all written. Actually I just found it on google - the first post was about the staircase in the Atlanta house.

  6. Very interesting! I'll have to check out that board. It's so exciting to find places you didn't know of and where they talk about GWTW at length.


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