You sure wore some funny clothes back then. In keeping with my new penchant for blogging about the holidays, which I think I really overdid at Halloween, I am going to post some info about Thanksgiving. I don’t want to post the usual info though. I already have a couple posts about how this holilday, in particular, is a pretty mixed bag in terms of being both a good and also a fairly evil celebration. Today I thought I focus on some things we take for granted, clothes.
The 17th century marked a transition between the flamboyant styles of the Renaissance period and the more subdued outfits of the 1700’s. This is especially marked in mens’ clothing, where the hose and capes of the preceeding centuries gave way to waistcoats and breeches.
Overall, collars got smaller, sleeves got bigger (for a while). Waistlines rose, capes got shorter, and sleeves and doublets were slashed to reveal colors from the layer below. Embroidered and ornate garb worn in court and by the rich, especially in the early half of the century, contrasted sharply with the simple dress of the Puritans.
Clothing in 18th century USA was made from rough, native fibers – wool, cotton, hemp or flax – and, unless one could afford to hire a tailor, were fashioned by hand. Men wore knee britches and hose (stockings), although by the end of the century long pants were beginning to make an appearance. Tricornered hats and powdered wigs were worn only by the rich and aristocracy.
The attire of the Pilgrims was distinctive in its black and white simplicity – tall, buckled hats for men, black dresses with white aprons and bonnets for women.