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WELCOME TO AMERICA – Fashion in Colonial Times
Article by Phillip Johnson | Photos by Cheryl Gorski
Immigrants to the Colonies, as the United States were know as then, may have fled religious persecution among other reasons but they didn’t change the way they dressed to suit their new surroundings.
THE COLONIAL WOMAN
An important part of a colonial woman’s wardrobe was the BRUNSWICK, a three-quarter length jacket worn with a petticoat. Versatile enough to be an informal gown or a traveling gown, it had a high neck, a softly molded bodice, long sleeves and a sad back (loose pleats) and a hood.
A CAP was worn by women and girls to dress their heads. It was a practical piece that allowed the head to be dressed without styling the hair, while at the same time protecting the hair from everyday dust and dirt (so that the hair need not be washed as frequently). A hat was tied on top of the cap when going out. The cap could be made of linen, cotton, or even all lace. Lace and ruffles could be added to the cap. The style of fashionable cap changed frequently. The MOB HAT was undress head wear; becoming popular in the 1730s and worn in some form into the next century. It had a puffed crown placed high on the back of the head, a deep flat border surrounding the face, and side pieces carried down like short lappets, which could be left loose, pinned, or tied under the chin. The flat border usually was frilled or had lace.
A CAPE, a protective outer garment that was shaped to the neck, covered the shoulders, and was fastened at the center front and was usually shorter than a cloak. It was made of either heavy or light fabrics of wool, cotton, or silk.
The DRESS in the 18th century referred to the overall fashion for everyone and not a single garment. It was the total look from head to toe. Full dress would refer to the most formal, fashionable look. Throughout the 18th century, a woman’s dress usually consisted of a gown and petticoat. The Gown consisted of the bodice and skirt joined together, with the skirt open in the front to reveal the separate petticoat, which was an essential part of the dress and not an undergarment.
The CARACO was a jacket of many different styles worn in the second half of the 18th century. It was worn with a petticoat and was considered day wear at home or for informal activities. It was always considered “undress.”
A PETTICOAT was a woman’s skirt-like garment worn with a gown or jacket. Most gowns were open-fronted robes needing the addition of the petticoat to fill the gap. Quilted ones could be worn for both warmth and fashion. Under petticoats of linen, wool, or cotton were added for warmth. The SHIFT was the undermost garment worn by children and women. It served the same purpose as the man’s shirt. Made from various qualities of white linen, it had either a drawstring or plain neck, as well as drawstrings or cuffs at the elbows. It could be plain or lace trimmed.
A SHORT GOWN was a loose T-shaped garments cut to the length of the hip or thigh. It was made to wrap over in front and held together by pinning or held closed with the apron. Made of utilitarian fabrics to be worn by the laboring sort and made of better fabric for the middling sort and worn as undress. RUFFLED SLEEVES also were attached to the edge of the gown sleeves to cover the elbows.
Either plain or lace trimmed ruffles, the degree of decoration and the number of ruffles varied with fashion. A RIDING HABIT consisted of a petticoat, jacket, and waistcoat, or waistcoat fronts attached to the jacket. The jacket followed the lines of men’s coats until the 1780s, except that it had a waist seam and bust darts. Habits were suitable for traveling and fashionable undress.
STAYS were the essential foundation garment of the 18th century. They developed from the “boned bodies” of the 17th century, and in the 19th century were to become corsets. But just as the names of these garments changed, so did the shape and effect upon the body. The fashionable 17th century torso was an elongated tubular trunk, with little taper and encased the bosom. Through the 18th century stays covered the body with thei
r conical form, lifting and supporting the bosom. In the 19th century corsets created a curve linear body, minimizing the waist and accentuating the bosom.
The stays of the 18th century, therefore, did much more to support the body and remind one of good posture than they did to cinch the waist. Women of the gentry and middling sorts wore stays most of the time. Children of these classes also wore stays to learn proper carriage. While fashionable ladies’ stays were wanted for a good shape, working women needed them for good support.
All women were admonished by their contemporaries to not tightly lace or “straight” lace their stays out of concern for possible injury. Those who did so out of vanity were mocked by the satirical print to the right, entitled, “Tight Lacing or Fashion before Ease.” The extent to which stays were worn by slaves is unclear. Plantation records do not indicate the use of stays in the yearly allotment to field slaves. That some slaves, particularly house slaves, did wear stays is proven by the many descriptions in runaway ads.
As the sorts of women who wore stays varied greatly, so did the types and quality of the garments themselves. Frequently constructed in layers of linen with narrow strips of boning inserted within, stays could vary from perfectly rigid to very pliable. Boning was either baleen, metal, wood, pasteboard, or pack thread. Their exteriors could be covered in fine silks, utilitarian worsteds, or plain linens. Perhaps the lowest sort of stays were those given by church charity, generally made in a single layer of thick leather.
SHOES were made of silk fabrics, worsteds, or leathers. Depending on current fashions, they may or may not have had elevated heels. They would fasten by buckles, clasps or, if very utilitarian they might have ties. Muffs were tube-like accessories used for keeping the hands warm, which were of various sizes as dictated by fashion. They could be covered with fur, cloth, or feathers, and were usually padded.
THE COLONIAL GENTLEMEN
Throughout western history, WIGS have come and gone from fashion, but it is undeniably the 18th century that was the golden age of male wig wearing. In the second half of the prior century wigs had entered into court fashion in both England and France. In the early years of the 18th century the Full Bottomed Periwig reigned with its cascade of curls. As the century progressed, the proportion of the wig generally decreased and the variety of fashionable forms expanded greatly. By mid century wig wearing was available to most levels of society for the individuals who chose to do so. While certain styles of wigs became associated with particular professionals; the vast majority of wigs had no particular connotations. Made of human, horse, goat, or yak hair, the choice of material and styles changed constantly with fashion and personal preferences. In the closing decade of the century the wearing of wigs was less common amongst the young and fashionable sort, although some conservatives continued to wear wigs into the 19th century.
Towards the end of the 17th century, the vast wigs then worn by some men made it impractical for them to wear and A fashionable broad-brimmed HAT necessary. Custom dictated, however, that hats should then be carried beneath the arm. Rapidly, the hat began to be folded to make it easier to carry. In the 18th century, this habit and changing fashions led to many sorts of FOLDED or COCKED HATS – cocked on one, two, or three sides. It was the hat with three sides cocked that dominated fashion and was seen in innumerable variations of adornment and proportion. While beaver felt was the preferred material others, including wool and camel’s down, were available.
The NEGLIGE CAP was a small informal cap often, though not always, worn to accompany a banyan. For some men it served to cover a shaved head when the wig was removed, others wore them over their own hair. Made in a variety of materials, t
hese caps were often embroidered. It could be constructed in different ways, the most usual of which was to be cut in wedge-shaped quarters with a turned-up band.
In the 17th and 18th centuries small knitted woolen caps worn by the laboring sort, sailors, and slaves were often referred to as “MONMOUTH CAPS.” The name is derived from one of England’s great port cities and its particular associations with seafaring. Knitting of caps and stockings was a common pastime for sailors, they sold their wares in the dock streets for additional income.
For men, the gentleman’s BANYAN was a loose, informal robe to be worn instead of a coat. Influenced by Oriental fashion, these popular robes were also called Indian gowns, nightgowns, or wrappers. Cut either in a loose T-shape or as a long simplified coat, they were acceptable wear for home or informal business. Made most often of patterned materials, these useful garments could vary from light and cool to quilted and warm. From the late 16th century until the early 19th century, most men wore Breeches as their lower body garment. Through the centuries breeches were seen in many forms and lengths. In the early 18th century breeches were barely seen beneath long waistcoats and coats. By the mid-18th century they were more noticeable beneath shorter waistcoats and open coats, and so the cut of breeches became tighter and revealed the shape of the leg. Worn by all levels of society, breeches were made in a great variety of silks, cottons, linens, wools, knits, and leathers.
A MAN’S COAT was the uppermost layer of the 18th century man’s suit, worn over waistcoat and breeches. Both the cut and the title of the fashionable coat saw several evolutions through the course of the century. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries a coat was a relatively straight loose garment, with the slight fullness in the knee-length skirts falling into folds over the backside of the hips. In the 1720s and 1730s the skirts of the fashionable coat grew in volume and were set into regular pleats. In the 1730s an alternative to the weighty full skirted coat was developed. This new fashioned coat, with narrow skirts set in pleats and other defining features, including a collar, was termed a Frock. Through the middle decades of the century both the coat and the frock were worn, coats being for fashionable full dress, frocks for fashionable undress. By the 1770s the distinctions in purpose and terminology were becoming blurred. None but the most conservative older man would be seen in a full-skirted coat. The frock had entered into fashionable full dress, and was by many simply referred to as a coat. In the closing decade of the 18th century and into the next, the frock dominated fashionable dress and language.
Many men of the 18th century chose Great Coats as their protective outer garment in foul weather. Most often than not, it was made of heavy fulled woolens and served well to keep one warm and dry. Some men are known to have had accompanying waistcoats and leggings made in the same heavy wools. The great coat generally had a collar, a cape over the shoulders, deep cuffs, and was worn to knee length or longer. Occasionally, great coats were made in alternative fabrics of lighter weights, particularly oiled silk and linen.
The 18th-century man almost always wore some sort of neck cloth, whether fashionably dressed or at labor known as the CRAVET was one of many forms of neck wear. It was a narrow length of white linen that could be adorned on its ends with lace, fringe, or knots. It was worn wrapped about the throat and loosely tied in front. The cravat was first seen in fashionable dress in the mid-17th century. It was derived from the “crabate” worn by Croatian soldiers serving with the French Army (ca. 1645-1650). By the mid 18th century it was worn in informal attire.
The NECK HANDKERCHIEF was the most informal sort of neck wear and generally worn by sporting gentlemen, working tradesmen, and laboring slaves. It commonly was a square folded and tied around the neck. They were usually made of linen, cotton, or silk, and could be in white, plain colors, woven checks and stripes, or printed patterns.
A STOCK was a Colonial Gentleman’s most formal neck wear. In fashionable dress, it was universally of fine white linen pleated to fit beneath the chin. For martial purposes, it was often constructed of black leather or woven horsehair. For the clergy, the white linen stock had falling bands added. All of these forms were buckled behind the wearer’s neck.
iv>The MAN’S SHIRT was worn as a man’s undergarment, covering the body from neck to knee. Most were made of white linen which could be very fine or very coarse. A gentleman’s best shirt may have ruffles (ruffs) at the wrist and/or breast. A laborer’s shirt was sometimes made of unbleached linen or small patterned checks and stripes. A plain shirt might serve as a nightshirt.
During the second half of the 18th century a garment referred to as a “HUNTING SHIRT” began to appear in North America. The earliest and simplest form seems akin to the coarse shirts that European wagoners and farmers wore as a protective coverall. In the years prior to the American Revolution this garment came to have a distinct American character. Several of the Independent Companies wore hunting shirts emblazoned on the breast with the motto, Liberty or Death, and several of the early colonial armies chose hunting shirts as their new uniforms. It is, however, with the frontier that this garment is most associated. Unfortunately, few examples of 18th or early 19th century hunting shirts survive and the contemporary written descriptions do not complete the picture. Reconstructions of this garment are largely conjectural.
What is today recognized as a man’s THREE-PIECE SUIT began to develop in the late 17th century and was well established by the 18th century. In the early 17th century most men wore as the outer layer of garments a tailored doublet and full breeches. In the middle of that century, the vest was introduced to European fashion from Asia Minor. Looser forms of doublets left unbuttoned allowed the long vest to be seen beneath. As the 18th century began, the doublet gave way to the new coat and the vest began to evolve into the shorter waistcoat. Breeches, formerly covered by long vests, were then visible and were increasingly cut closer and tighter. Within the first decades of the 18th century a man’s suit was recognized as coat, waistcoat, and breeches. At times it was thought fashionable, especially for formal dress, to wear all matching pieces referred to as a “suit in ditto.” But often a man would choose a different waistcoat, or waistcoats, to accompany matching coat and breeches. It was most sporting to have none of the three garments alike, but well chosen.
Since a man’s breeches of the 18th century came to just beneath the knee, a covering for the lower leg was useful for warmth and protection. LEGGINGS serve to fully cover the lower leg from a few inches above the knee extending to cover the top of the foot. SPATTER DASHES covered the leg from the mid-shin to the top of the foot. Made of stout woolen or linen cloth or of leather, leggings and spatter dashes were worn by the sporting gentleman, laboring man, and in the military.
During the 18th century, breeches were worn by all levels of society; however, TROUSERS were also worn by middling tradesmen, laborers, sailors, and slaves. Trousers were generally cut with a straight leg and were worn to the ankle or slightly shorter. As trousers were utilitarian garments, they were made mostly of durable linens.
The 18th century man was almost never seen without his WAISTCOAT. Not to have it on was considered “undressed.” The waistcoat, or vest, of the 1770s was fashionably worn to the upper part of the thigh, opening in a “V” beneath the stomach. Waistcoats were made in all qualities of silk, cotton, wool, and linens. If adorned, it could be embroidered, printed, brocaded, quilted, tasseled, silver or gold laced, and was generally the most elaborate article of men’s dress. When worn for utilitarian purposes it could have sleeves, be called a jacket, and worn outermost instead of a longer skirted fashionable coat.
The primary male undergarment of the 18th century was a knee-length shirt, yet some men also chose to wear UNDER DRAWERS. Made of linen or of woolen flannel, and always white, knee-length under drawers served as separate linings to breeches. They aided in preserving the breeches and added an additional layer of warmth. The extent to which under drawers were worn is not well documented.
STOCKINGS of the 18th century were worn by men and women, and were most often knit. The knitting frame (machine) was developed in the late 16th century and many improvements during the 18th century increasingly forced hand knitters from their business. Fashionable stockings of silk or cotton were generally white, and at times were decorated with knit or embroidered patterns at the ankle, referred to as “clocks” or “clocking.” More utilitarian stockings of linen, and particularly worsted wool, were seen in colors, with blue and gray predominating. Occasionally, coarse stockings for the low laboring sort and slaves were cut of woolen or linen cloth and sewn to fit the shape of the leg.
MEN’S SHOES were made in a great variety of styles and qualities. Fashionable low-heeled shoes or pumps were of softer leather, coarse common shoes of sturdier leathers. Black was by far the most usual color, and only occasionally were other colors seen. While buckles were the primary mode of fastening, ties were worn for utilitarian purposes. Boots of many sorts were worn for sporting, riding and working.
Women’s clothing & vintage steamer trunks provided by : FINE owner David Fernan 298 Ashland SW corner Ashland &
Men’s Vintage worker clothing, great coats, & suitcases provided by : John Marfoglia of JM Gold Buyers 1484 Hertel Ave Bflo 716-913-8549 email@example.com
Overalls provided by Dick’s Clothing Store Walden Galleria Mall , Cheektowaga NY
Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, Forever 21, The Gap, Aldo’s, Banana Republic, at the Walden Galleria Mall
Women’s Clothing & accessories provided by : Lucy Perrone-Mancuso : Owner of Moda 1509 Hertel Ave716-725-6636
Women’s Clothing provided by : Second Chic 818 Elmwood Ave. Bflo 716-882-8222
Early century tuxedo with tails & women’s caraco provided by : Stephen L. Phillips of The Lodge Auction House & Banquet Center 212 Cazenovia St. Buffalo NY 14210 www.thelodgeauction.com 716-826-0168
First shots in vintage clothes by the river with the luggage:
Kevin was wearing a 1928 Vintage Double Breasted Suit made by Kingsbridge Custom Clothiers paired with an Attention Brand Dress Shirt and Urban Outfitters bow tie. I’m trying to remember what hat he was wearing but I think it was an Urban Outfitters cabbie hat. He was also wearing a pair of medium brown leather vintage Weyenberg wingtip shoes.
Namik was wearing a vintage green plaid wool Worsted Tex brand suit with a Macy’s Green Cotton Sweater, a country gentlemen cabbie hat and dark brown vintage wingtip shoes
Shon was wearing a brown vintage sharkskin suit made by Kuppenheimer paired with a Clairborne dress shirt, dark brown leather Aldo boots, and a vintage brown Stetson fedora
Lil boy was wearing vintage suit and hat and carrying a vintage violin from JM Gold Buyers, shoes from Urban Outfitter
Maddie was wearing silk gown from DC Theatrics, Rabbit fur cape from Moda, driving gloves from Second Chic
Julianna was wearing tan suede caraco from Fine, driving gloves from Second Chic, hat box from Moda
Martha was wearing long black velvet shirt , beaver felt hat, and driving gloves from Second Chic, Brown rabbit fur coat from Fine . Daughter was wearing black rabbit fur jacket from Fine, black floppy hat from Moda.
Second men’s photos:
Kevin was dressed the same but wearing a pair of Carhart overalls and distressed vintage work boots.
Namik was wearing a pair of Gap 1969 Jeans with a vintage brown shirt, vintage suspenders, a pair of urban outfitters two tone rubber shoes and a country gentlemen cabbie hat.
Maddie was wearing yellow 50’s style dress & gloves from Second Chic, Red Velvet coat from Fine
Julianna was wearing 70’s style gauchos from Second Chic, vintage coat from Alley Way Theatre
Martha was wearing full length white rabbit fur coat from Fine & daughter was wearing mink stole from Fine, brown beaver hat from Moda, leather gloves, and white lace shirt from Second Chic
The next photos in work wear:
Namik wore a vintage brown shirt with vintage red plaid hunting pants and suspenders and a country gentlemen cabbie hat.
Kevin wore a distressed pair of blue and white striped vintage coveralls and a vintage denim apron.
Lil boy was wearing vintage denim apron from JM Gold Buyers
Maddie was wearing black vintage top and velvet floor length skirt from Second Chic fur muff from Moda
Julianna was wearing turn of the century black beaded caraco from the Lodge Auction House
Kevin wore Notify pants with a tan Ron Cherskin suede dress shirt, brown leather Aldo boots and a camel colored vintage Bloomingdales Men’s Store double breasted coat.
Images by the train crossing and inside the grain elevator:
Namik was wearing a charcoal grey pair of DKNY pants, a pinstriped charcoal grey vest made my Eighty Eight, a light yellow dress shirt that was made in Italy by Canali, a black cabbie hat made by Country Gentlemen and a vintage black wool overcoat that was made in Italy by Marco Bellini.
Shon was wearing a pair of charcoal grey Levi brand chords at some point. He also wore a pair of wool B
anana Republic charcoal grey pinstriped slacks they were paired with what. He wore charcoal grey Express Studio zipper front sweater over a black Banana Republic long sleeve crew shirt and pair of Alfani smoke grey leather boots with a grey cabbie hat.
Namik then put on a vintage plaid Fakey-Brockman sports coat paired with the brown Stetson fedora.
Shon then put on an Urban Outfitters scarf at some point and I also wore a vintage dark grey wool HIS Sportswear pea coat.
Shon changed into a pair of Diesel Industry Jeans with an olive green vintage Towncraft shirt, vintage Tan Bloomingdales double breasted pea coat and a pair of brown leather Lalikaer shoes.
The coat and shirt on Shon were then switched to a Van Hueson dress shirt and a vintage winter white H.I.S Sportswear double breasted denim pea coat with a wool lining.
Stephanie was wearing white gauzy skirt and white lace turtle neck from Forever 21, fur stole from Fine, long black opera gloves from Moda
2nd look: multi colored tweed jacket with fireman’s buttons from Forever 21, Black velvet floppy hat from Moda
tuxedo with tails from The Lodge Auction House, high waisted shorts from Forever 21, vintage top hat from The Custom Hatter
Location: Special Thank You to Rick Smith & “Swannie” for their generosity, and hospitality, with accommodating our team in the Ohio Street Grain Elevators. Also DC Theatrics & Alley Way Theatre
FASHION MANIAC TEAM:
Features Editor : Phillip Johnson
All Photography & Managing Editor : Cheryl Gorski
Set Designer : Todd Warfield
Hair Stylist : Whitney Curry
Guest Makeup : Aryn Stewart
Men’s Styling : Shon O’Connor
Women Styling : Cassie Rose
Prop Stylist : David Fernan
Aryn Stewart : Freelance Make Up Stylist specializing in creative beauty, weddings, film, stage, and glamour 716-563-9379 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wix.com/araynstewart/makeupdesign www.facebook.com/amsmakeupdesign
John Marfoglia : Prop Stylist specializing in antiques, art, vintage men’s clothing, gold buyers 716-913-8549 email@example.com 1484 Hertel Ave Buffalo
Susan Morreale: Stylist specializing in fashion editorial shoots, accessories, window displays, & boutique owner of Lotions & Potions 789 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, (716) 886-6457, www.lotionsandpotions.com 716 471-2625 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristin Draudt : Hair Stylist specializing in creative hair for fashion editorial & commercial, film & runway, American Board Certified Colorist, updo’s for weddings & proms. Fawn and Fox Salon 1363 Delaware ave.Buffalo, 14209 (716)881-4400 716-909-1010 email@example.com
Come check out our latest WEBZINE fashionmaniac.com.I’d like to introduce to you our latest edition. Our team has been working on the latest fashion spreads, providing you with the latest runway trends, from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week New York for over a year. Our mission is to help you with your shopping sprees. We want to be your source to keep you current , showing how accessories, and clothing can be bought, and worn locally. Thank You for all your support over the year !
Cheryl Gorski | Photographer & Creative Director | 716-895-1689 |
716-903-0600 | info@cher
ylgorski.com | Also on Facebook specializing in:
in special effects, production of designing and building sets, theatre
and photo shoots.
Whitney Curry:Hair stylistfor photo shoots, films, bridal, personal
Phillip Johnson: Freelance Writer specialising in the fashion industry, and beauty. firstname.lastname@example.org,203-512-2528
Michael Merisola Set Stylist & Expert in Antiques /Modern Furniture :
Owner of Coo Coo U 1478 Hertel Ave. , Bflo, 716-432-6216
Andrew Brown: Hair & Makeup stylist and owner of Salon Rouge 700
Elmwood Ave. 716-884-1010. Specialising in Up Do’s for weddings,
color, cuts, Halloween , Run Way , and photoshoots.
Kimberly Cohen : Casting director and model/ actrss for movies, plays,
photography and films. email@example.com , Twitter: kmcohen,
Facebook: Kimberly Cohen
Stephen L. Phillips of The Lodge Auction House & Banquet Center 212 Cazenovia St. Buffalo NY 14210 www.thelodgeauction.com716-826-0168Specializing in: Estate & Business Liquidation, Antique Consignment, On-Site Auctions, Estate Sales