How Did the Puritans Dress?

Puritan colonists of New England favored simple clothes in muted colors. Contrary to popular belief, they did not exclusively wear black.

While the English wore elaborate, highly adorned clothes at the time, the colonial settlers in New England dressed simply. The ornate garb of clergy in the Catholic Church was viewed negatively by the Puritans who saw it as a sign of excess.

The primary materials for clothing in Puritan New England were linen, wool and other heavy fabrics. The colors were often muted and soft, and fabric was colored in a variety of shades using vegetable-based dyes.

Men wore long, loose linen shirts and short pants that were tied at the knee and called "breeches." Socks were long and made of wool, and jackets came with sleeves or without. Colonial men's shoes were typically plain leather, and hats were wide-brimmed.

Colonial Puritan women wore long, loose dresses as undergarments, which sometimes had removable sleeves. Petticoats covered the undergarments, followed by long gowns and skirts. An apron was usually worn on top of other clothing. Like men's shoes, women's footwear was plain. Colonial women's hairstyles were usually covered by a coif. Both men and women wore capes and coats as protection against the rain.