The pilgrims. What did they look like? And, more important, what did they wear? Americans are taught about the life of pilgrims who came to the New World in the 16th-17th century, even the kids know a lot about the first settlers. But the info the people are told is not always true and accurate. For example, how do you think, is it true that small pilgrim boys wore girly gowns? Find out below.
Why don't we shatter a few stereotypes by looking at the kind of clothes that the pilgrims really hold? Look, we've all seen the cartoon cutouts of the pilgrims at Thanksgiving, but the truth isn't always black and white. The truth about the early pilgrims is far more interesting and colorful. Their wardrobe included red velvet, deep V-waistline, and fashionable doublets. Surface decoration included applied grade fringe, also decorative wings or piccadilly to disguise the removable and reversible sleeves, expensive linen puffy shirts with shell buttons doubling as nightshirts, all topped off with a dignified colonial cap.
Okay, so maybe the pilgrims weren't into walking the runways of Plymouth but it's always good to challenge convenience stereotypes of the pilgrims that suggest they were killjoys.
Simon Whistler from Today I Found Out YouTube channel debunks the common myth that the pilgrims wore black & white clothing with buckled tall hats. The myth that they dressed like this stems from a popular clothing style in England in the late 17th century which carried over to the 18th and 19th-century artist's depiction of the pilgrims. So, what did the pilgrims actually wear?
Historical records of pilgrim clothing, such as the passenger list of the Mayflower wills which included descriptions of clothing and other such records, painting a very different picture than the late 17th century artists depicted.
The start is, the pilgrims didn't wear buckled hats, nor did they wear buckles on their shoes or their waists. Buckles were expensive and just not in fashion at the time. They simply wore the much cheaper leather laces to tie up their shoes and hold up their pants. Buckles later became very popular in England for their expense and as a fashion statement. Those who were too poor to afford buckles wore laces, similar to the pilgrims.
They also didn't only wear black and white. The pilgrims’ common garb was very colorful, as was the fashion at the time. They only wore predominantly black and gray clothing on Sundays; the rest of the time, they wore heavily dyed clothing in many different colors. For one example, a pilgrim by the name of Brewster left his clothing in his will to someone, which was described as one blue cloth suit, green drawers, a violet cloth coat, black silk stockings, sky-blue garters, red grosgrain suit, red waistcoat, tawny-colored suit with silver buttons.
Ted Hickox (the Speedlearner) says that the pilgrims always dressed in black only on special occasions. It took a lot to get your clothes dyed black, the way that they have it in the Thanksgiving stories. At many times, the outfits were of various colors, sometimes just white or gray – the reason for that is because you didn't have to do very much dying to make the white or gray. The natural colors of the fabric were usually white or gray, so black was really for special occasions only.
The outfits the pilgrims usually wore were long-sleeved, even in the summertime. Because they were the Puritan and not exactly the richest people in the world either.
What materials were used to make clothing? Their undershirts would have been made of linen which has been kind of a softer material. But their outer garments were usually made of either blue jean linen or worse yet – wool. That’s because wool and blue jean type linen last longer for an outer garment.
They wore stockings, and usually, these stockings were made of silk. And I tell you what, if you've ever been in the hot heat wearing silk stockings, you know exactly what kind of problems that can lead to. Remember, they actually had cobblers. Cobblers are people that actually make shoes. These shoes were usually made out of leather – they didn't have tennis shoes like we have today. And if your shoe started breaking down, you didn't just pitch the shoe, you took it to the cobbler, and he usually fixed it up. So, you didn't exactly just get rid of your shoes right off the bat.
Now, it's also said that until boys reached a certain age, usually about five or six, they were usually dressed up a lot like girls. They wore gowns, too.