What Did Pioneers Wear?

American pioneers wore clothing made from cotton or fabrics they produced themselves, such as wool or linen. Men and boys wore buckskin trousers, cotton shirts, leather boots and wide-brimmed hats. Women and girls wore cotton dresses or skirts, bonnets and leather boots.

Boys’ trousers and shirts were commonly made of cotton or buckskin, which is deer leather. Suspenders held up the pants. Men typically wore black, brown or gray trousers made from sturdy linen or wool or buckskin. Buttons secured the front flap or fly closure. Buttons also attached the suspenders to the trousers. Men and boys pulled cotton or linen shirts over the head through a front slit that closed with a few buttons. Wide-brimmed hats for both boys and men were made from felt or straw. Knee-high or ankle-high leather boots were designed to fit on either foot.

Girls’ dresses or skirts and blouses were typically cotton with gingham or calico designs. The girls wore an apron over the outfit and pantalets under it. Women wore simple, floor-length cotton dresses with long sleeves and high necklines. The fabric was often plain, but sometimes it had a small print. When doing household chores, a woman tied a pinafore around the waist and pinned its attached bib to her dress near the collarbone. Under their dresses, women wore stockings and low-heeled leather boots. A popular hat was the slat bonnet, which covered all of a woman’s head except for her face.