Elizabeth Stewart Clark & Company

Post-Traumatic Dress Disorders Part I

Studying history is not always serious and somber. In fact, most of the top-notch researchers in my acquaintance have a very wry, sometimes odd, but always influential sense of humor.

Here are a few gems related to the medical woes we risk facing with regards to living history and clothing.

Post-Traumatic Dress Disorder:
That nagging feeling that the dress over which you labored for ages on end still does not appear to meet that undefined word called “accuracy.”

Symptoms include:

  • Self-doubt
  • Continuously looking and re-looking at the same references over and over, asking the same questions on the SA to anyone who will answer
  • Long nights re-doing something that just isn’t quite right
  • Re-making the dress or parts thereof several times in an attempt to “get it right.”
  • Waking up in the middle of the night from a seemingly deep sleep with a dream induced revelation about the garment in question. Followed immediately by turning on all the lights and piling books around you in the middle of the floor to check your half-awake vision against documentation.
  • Some sufferers experience heightened anxiety and pre-occupation with a finished dress acquiring grime or dust, or a finished trim application being crushed or damaged. They can be recognized by the “shoo-ing” motions that occur spontaneously whenever anyone approaches within their 15-foot-diameter Personal Space.

Treatment Options
Many have found S’mores Schnapps and liberal use of copious amounts of good chocolate for temporary relief of anxiety symptoms. There is no long-term cure, though research continues. Research is hampered somewhat by the S’mores Schnapps and liberal use of copious amounts of good chocolate, but mostly, the Schnapps.

One unfortunate related disease is Dress Abandonment. A new, national organization, DAPS (Dress Abandonment Prevention Society), seeks to aid those afflicted. One member recalls:

I am a proud member of DAPS. My turning point in realizing I was a Dress Abandoner came when my husband fished a dress from the trash while calling my friend; together, they convinced me to give the dress another chance, and to realize it is not the dress’s fault.

This syndrome is sometimes related to PTDD, but afflicts the sufferer in the pre-cutting stages. Dress after dress is dreamt of, sketched, researched, and planned to excruciating detail. In many cases, fabric is purchased to complete these projects. However, the planning stage becomes an insurmountable wall for the Plandometriosis sufferer, and rarely does a dress actually result.

Because the syndrome involves no cutting or construction, and thus, no fabric waste or actual errors committed, there are very few related anxiety or guilt symptoms, and chocolate in modest quantities is usually enough to stifle the sufferer’s intermittent musings about “maybe cutting out a project.”

In our next installment, we’ll discuss the twin syndromes, Kliptomania and Kliptophobia.

Contributors include forum members Noah Briggs, Joanna Jones, Denise Butler, Barbara Smith, Bevin McCrae, Rebekah W, Anna Worden Bauersmith, Eileen Hook, Annette Bethke, Amanda Rawls, Amanda Carol, Sarah Meister, Mary Gutzke, Jeni Hulet, K Krewer, Melissa Marie, Carolann Schmitt, Jean, Sarah King, Kimberly Jackson, Cassandra, Michael Mescher, Stormi Souter, Rebecca Roberts, Lissa Wilson, and of course, yours truly, since I just can’t control myself when terrible puns are in the offing.

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About The Sewing Academy
With a focus on the 1840-1865 era, The Sewing Academy is your home on the (internet) range for resources to help you meet your living history goals!

Elizabeth Stewart Clark has been absorbed by the mid-19th century for over 20 years. She makes her home in the Rocky Mountains with her husband, four children (from wee to not-so-wee), far too many musical instruments, and five amusing hens.

Email Elizabeth Or call 208-523-3673 (10am to 8pm Mountain time zone, Monday through Saturday)
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