Women embarking on long westward journeys generally wore simple dresses, hats and sturdy footwear, but sported nice dresses and accessories for social functions. Thousands of female pioneers crossed from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast during the mid-1800s. The task of making clothing lay primarily with women, who sewed garments for themselves and family members.Continue Reading
Despite hailing from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, American pioneer women dressed in similar fabrics, colors and clothing styles while traveling from the East Coast to the Pacific Ocean. They dressed primarily for practicality and comfort rather than fashion. Pioneers packed lightly for the voyage, and often wore one outfit during the week. To keep dirt and debris from showing on outer clothing, women sewed dresses and accessories from fabrics in dark colors like black and navy blue.
Women crafted protective and functional hats and shawls for traveling, too. Hats offered protection from the sun while shawls added warmth during the cold winter months. Women wore heavy cloaks to ward off the cold, too, and kept feet warm and dry with utilitarian boots. Women made clothing mostly with linen and wool. Wool provided insulation while linen kept travelers cool and dry in the heat. These fabrics proved sturdy, readily available and cost much less than expensive fabrics like cotton and silk.Learn more about Historical Dress
Many women in the 1950s wore blouses and skirts or long dresses, while men wore suits and hats, or dress shirts and slacks. Dress in this decade was relatively conservative.Full Answer >
In the 1920s, women raised their hemlines, bobbed their hair and wore cloche hats. This direction in fashion reflected American prosperity and changing attitudes towards women.Full Answer >
African slaves generally wore gender appropriate clothes typical of the period, such as breeches and shirts for men and simple dresses and woolen undergarments for women. The clothes of household slaves were typically of better quality than those of agricultural or plantation slaves, signifying a higher a status.Full Answer >
Sacagawea and other women of the Shoshone tribe of American Indians wore long deerskin dresses with wide sleeves and moccasins. Beadwork, fringes and porcupine quills decorated the dresses. They would also wear basket hats.Full Answer >