What Were Some Popular Styles of Clothing in Colonial Times?

The early colonial period featured simple, modest styles in keeping with Puritan beliefs. Men wore loose linen shirts, knee-length pants, and woolen socks with jerkins and doublets. Colonial women wore long linen shifts with petticoats, and a dress or long jacket. Both genders wore plain leather shoes, usually without buckles or other decorations. Outer wear included capes, cloaks and great coats.

Initially popular, the Puritan style of dress rejected frills, lace, buttons and bows in favor of coarse, simple, heavy clothing of linen, wool and leather. Most men sported wide-brimmed felt hats, while women covered their heads with linen coifs or mob caps to hide their hair. Puritan beliefs influenced clothing colors, limiting them to white, black, brown, gray and green. Pale yellow, blue and russet were also common. Both men and women wore patterns, overshoes with raised soles and straps, designed to keep shoes off the ground out of the mud.

During the 18th century, clothing became more elaborate and fabrics more luxurious. Stockings in silk or cotton featured decorative patterns. Shoes now featured buckles, heels and clasps for both genders. Popular shirts for men appeared in finer fabrics and with ruffles. Fashionable ladies' hats had wide brims, flat crowns, and often ribbons or other trim. By the end of the century, the three-piece suit became a popular staple featuring a coat, waistcoat and breeches.