Period Attire Program
Form and Function: An Examination of Nineteenth Century Women's Underpinnings
Have you ever been interested in historical clothing? Learn how women in early California navigated wearing a multitude of undergarments and how it affected their daily lives in this video created by the Period Attire Program in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Statement of Purpose
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s mission is to “provide to the park visitor the opportunity to experience the setting of the original town (pueblo) of San Diego.” In union with the mission, the purpose of the Period Attire Program in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is to further that endeavor by thoughtfully and carefully dressing staff and volunteers in nineteenth century reproduction clothing, also known as period attire, to enhance the interpretive presentations and cultural landscape of the park for visitors from all over the world. Currently, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park has the largest period attire program within California State Parks and is the most visited historic park in the state. A culturally responsive and historically accurate period attire program offers the public a deeper connection to the past and provides a better understanding of the vibrancy of nineteenth century San Diego. As described in the park’s 2005 Strategic Plan for Interpretation, accurate period clothing contributes to the look, feel, and ambiance of the park, especially in relation to its primary interpretive period of 1821 to 1872. Old Town San Diego’s Period Attire program focuses on dressing staff and volunteers for third person interpretation from the decades 1845 to 1865 when both Californio and American cultural influences were present. When visitors are engaged in a setting where park representatives are wearing accurate period attire, it inspires their educational experience and ultimately invites them back to the park. Taking guidance from the latest research from the public humanities, including the fields of critical heritage studies, interpretation, and public engagement, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s Period Attire Program strives to represent the blending of cultures relevant to the park’s primary interpretive period, including Mexican/Californio and American attire, among others.
Nikki Saputo-Menn, MA
Nikki Saputo-Menn is the Period Attire Program Coordinator for Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Nikki has a BS in History from Excelsior College and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Oklahoma. She is a fashion historian specializing in nineteenth and twentieth century clothing research. Nikki began her career with California State Parks in 2019 as a seasonal interpreter for the education program while assisting with the park’s period attire program. As Program Coordinator, Nikki is dedicated to thoughtfully and accurately dressing staff and volunteers while upholding the program’s purpose to enhance interpretive presentations and the cultural landscape of the park by utilizing cultural sensitivity and awareness. She strives to accurately represent the merging of cultures relevant to the park’s primary interpretative period using nineteenth century reproduction clothing.
Gregg Giacopuzzi has worked at Old Town San Diego and San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Parks for over twenty years as a State Park Interpreter I. He is knowledgeable in nineteenth century clothing, material, patterns, and appropriate internet vendors. While Gregg has experienced the challenges of setting up a period attire program, he currently serves as the co-lead for the program and brings his decades of knowledge and expertise to strengthening the programs at both historic parks.