Most colonists came from England, but many came from Sweden, Germany, Holland,
France and Germany. Unless they were wealthy, they had to make their own clothes.
Leather, wool and flax were used to make clothes. Flax plants were grown on many farms. Flax is
woven into linen, which is cool to wear in
Animal hide was make into leather to make bags, booth, shoes, gloves and
clothes. The leather came from deer, sheep and cow hides.
Dressmakers in Europe sent dolls called moppets dressed in the latest fashions. Wealthy could order from
Europe or have someone in the colonies copy the fashions.
Working clothes. During the 18th century you could tell what kind of job people had from the clothes they wore A doctor would wear a black suit. A farmer wore a wide hat with a loose shirt and simple leather
The leather worker wore heavy buckskin apron to protect his clothes.
The wealthy had servants, who also had fine clothes called livery for special occasions. It was a very
fashionable suit. Colors were based on the family coat of arms.
Many towns had shoemakers.
Shoemakers traveled to farms and
stayed with their customers while they made shoes for the family. Working people
had shoes were made from buckskin or cowhide. Both right and left shoe were made the same.
Shoes worn every day had low heels.
Rich men wore shoes called pumps, with thin soles and small heels. To us,
they would look like ladies shoes.
Working women wore tough leather shoes. The rich preferred silk or linen shoes. some were made from leather, often goat hides. Men and women had buckles made from silver, gold, brass or pewter.
Fancy gowns had different parts.
The bodice was the top part. The long skirt part had two layers, the
overskirt and the petticoat. Under all that was a shift, which was made of
silk or cotton and looked like a dress.
The open robe dress showed the petticoat, which was made to match or go with
the gown. Then under all that were the hoops which gave shape to the whole gown,
either like a bell shape or to make the hips look bigger from side to side.
A stomacher was a stiff piece of fabric pinned to the front of the bodice.
The open robe and the closed robe. A closed gown was a sack gown, with loose pleats. it was very loose and
hung to the floor.
There were many other parts including a decorated apron, handkerchief, buffon
(spelled correctly) , muff, gloves with or without fingers, reticule and
of course, jewelry.
If we saw them today, we would think every day was Halloween! Women wore green masks to prevent sunburns in
summer, and black velvet or silk masks in winter.
Many women carried fans. They used it to cool themselves on hot days, but they
also were used to flirt. Not all fans folded. Some were stiff and
kept their shape. Muffs were fur or other warm fabrics made into a tube to place hands in cold
Like hair, hats became larger and fancier later in the 18th century (1701 TO 1800)
Corsets were also called a "stay"
, they were made of silk, linen or cotton and
made stiff with bones from whales, or wire or wood. Worn on the upper body, they were laced tightly and sometimes caused a women to faint.