What Did the Puritans Wear?

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Puritans wore simple, layered woolen clothing that covered most of the body and was dyed in a variety of muted colors. Cuffs and collars and, for women, aprons and caps were all white. While King James I had repealed the sumptuary laws regulating clothing, the Puritans continued dressing plainly, believing that ostentatious dress that was above their station in life was a sin.

Puritan clothing was modest, plain and practical. Fancy frills, lace, ribbons and even buttons were proscribed. Men and women both dressed modestly, covering everything but hands and face at all times. Women and girls were expected to always cover their hair with a cap or coif. Very young children and babies wore loose shifts, a dress-like garment, while children over the age of 4 or 5 dressed like miniature adults. While hats and shoes were often shown with large buckles on them, these garments were usually plain and black. Shoes were low-heeled and practical.

While Puritans have the reputation of dressing only in somber black, in reality their dress was colorful, if simple. Servants dressed all in blue, a color symbolizing servitude and heavenly grace. Black meant humility and was, like blue, inexpensive. Orange and red meant courage, brown symbolized humility, and yellow or green stood for renewal. These and other colors, if made with inexpensive dyes, were acceptable to Puritans.