Maids, (Or Abigails) especially household Maids, those that lived and worked within the larger houses are expected to have a clean, tidy and orderly appearance. The Maids that worked front of house ie, likely to be seen by visitors, are dressed in a uniform colour, each large house having it´s own colour "code". Maids that work back of house, the kitchens etc wear a similar dress style to the maids front of house but a colour code is not necessary..in fact they are likely to end up with the cast offs from the front of house Maids.
Large pleated dresses, broad Aprons and longsleeve chemise, under which a plain corset gives the body shape.
Their clothes are paid for and supplied by the Housekeeper (who receives her Budget from the Master of the house) but the upkeep, the cleaning and any necessary repairs are the responsibility of each Maid.
Make up is frowned upon although some powder on the face for front of house to create an all over unblemished complexion is acceptable.
Perfumes except lavender oil or similar, is not worn.
Here we see a Maid in typical dress. The hair is combed and pinned up under her bonnet, the complexion plain but fresh. She wears a large cotton Apron and a vanity cloth around her neck.
Under her skirts she wears an Enhancer (Bum roll) a sausage of material strapped around the waist to enhance the rear protusion of the dress.This and the lace fringed bonnet means she is more than likely a ladys personal maid.
An Enhancer (Bumroll)
Mostly maids wear cotton bonnets in plain colours such as white or plain pastels. A ribbon, which can be of a different colour, is used to tighten the bonnet or alternatively, small ribbons around the sides serve the same purpose.
The style is similar to those worn by the middle and upper classes but much plainer. They are generally made of hard wearing polished leather and for front of house Maids a buckle may be added.
Cotton socks in plain colours are also worn.
Duties and "Ranks"
If a household can only afford one servant then this is likely to be a female one. Her responsibilities will include; cooking, cleaning, gardening, tending the animals, looking after the children and helping in the shop if one is run by the family.
In larger households the Maids are more specialised.
The lowest ranks of maids are the rear of house Maids, laundry and kitchen maids. These are under direct control of the cook. As previously stated, they wore more or the less the same style of clothing as the other maids but a general colour scheme is not deemed important.
The next in order are the Nursery and wetnurse who care for the Mistresses children.
Also on this level of hiearchy are the house and chambermaids ("Spiderbrushers" due to their cleaning duties) who; mend, make beds, tidy, polish, wash and clean, sweep, make and clean fires, carry water and empty chamber pots.
One or two of these have the Titel of Parlour maid, which means they serve food and drink at mealtimes.
The top of the pile are the cook and the ladies Maid, who looks after the mistress of the house, her dressing, makeup and sometimes acts as a go between and messenger on her mistresses behalf.
At the top is the Housekeeper, who has access to a set of house keys, has a household budget and keeps the household accounts. She also has the power to hire, fire and punish the other maids.
|The Housekeepr with he set of Keys, the Cook and a Parlour Maid. Note both the Housekeeper and the Parlour Maid wear woolen Vanity cloths..an indication that it´s the colder part of the year.|
|Laundry and House Maids|
|Melanie and her Maids|