|A colonial blacksmith|
How did colonial men (and women) keep their stockings from falling down? A single leather garter near the top of the stocking held the stocking in place.
|Leather garters with buckles|
Further down the street, I met a man who said he'd come into town on business. While his clothing is more refined than that of the blacksmith, his crude walking stick – made from a tree branch – lets us know that he's from a more rural area.
|A visitor from the countryside comes to town|
The man's hat is tri-cornered, and at his neck, we see a hint of a white shirt with a plain collar. Covering his shirt is what we might call a vest, but in colonial times, it was referred to as a “waistcoat.” A plain beige coat is worn over the waistcoat. Like the blacksmith, this gentleman is wearing breeches and stockings. A leather-encased flask and a black leather pouch are strung under his shoulders.
Because colonial men's clothing had few, if any, pockets, men had to use leather pouches or cloth haversacks - like the ones someone hung on a fence below - to carry their personal items, such as keys.
|Haversacks made from fabric|
Colonial women's clothing also lacked pockets, but the ladies were quite inventive. Their pockets were attached to a fabric belt that was tied around the waist and allowed the pocket to rest against the woman's hip. Women's pockets were worn under the outermost skirt - better known as a "petticoat." The petticoat had a slit in the side seam allowing the woman to reach inside to her pocket.
|A woman's pocket|
Sometimes women wore a pocket on both hips as two pockets served to make the woman look more, ahem, symmetrical.
|This woman is wearing a pocket on each hip which makes her look symmetrical|
Near the edge of town, I met two laborers who were on their way home after a long work day. The young man is dressed similarly to the blacksmith except that he’s wearing a waistcoat over his plain white shirt. The woman is clad in simple loose clothing. A white cap covers her head, keeping her hair away from her face and from being exposed to dirt. Both workers are wearing crude leather shoes fastened with ties rather than buckles. When working, ties did a better job of keeping a shoe on a foot.
|Colonial laborers on their way home after work|
Perhaps on a future visit to Colonial Williamsburg, I'll find some shop keepers and gentry, and we'll be able to look at their outfits.
Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter loves using her training in education, research, writing, and speaking to teach and inspire others about a time in America that was anything but boring. A member of the Daughters of the American revolution (DAR), Cynthia believes history should be alive and personal.
Visit Cynthia's website: Cynthia Howerter - all things historical