What Did the Colonists Wear?

The manner of dress for the early colonial Americans largely mirrored that of the fashions of England at the time, with men wearing suits, and women donning floor-length gowns. If they could afford it, the colonists mimicked the dress of the English noble classes as much as possible.

Affluent men in the upper echelons of Virginia society often donned custom-made suits imported from London, made from silk or woolen broadcloth and embellished with fancy trim. Women generally wore long dresses with petticoats and corsets beneath. One's station in colonial life determined the quality of the clothing worn by both sexes. Climate also played a role in the type of material used: hot weather wear was made from lighter fabrics and winter clothing was crafted from heavier material.