Although the Pilgrims didn’t celebrate Christmas, since they eschewed all holidays except for those decreed by God (Sunday), I thought I would continue with some of my research on how they lived.
The Pilgrims’ (Separatists’) clothing was made of two types of cloth – wool and linen, which they wore year-round. They did not wear black or gray clothing, but clothes of many colors, according to probate records where the color of various clothing items was mentioned. These colors included violet, blue, and green. The color red was also listed; however, the reds that were used in the early 17th century were more of a brick red or a madder red. What was considered black in the early 17th century was very dark greys, greens, and blues and natural black sheep’s wool was also available.
A deep, rich black was considered the opposite of demonstrating piety in the early 17th century. Thus, a true black would not have been worn by Separatists.
If you were a male colonist or a boy old enough to be ‘breeched’, what would you wear? Male children old enough to be ‘breeched’ would wear the same clothing as their fathers:
Linen shirt under
A wool jacket or doublet
If you were a Separatist woman or a girl older than five, what would you wear? The same as an adult woman:
Coif on the head
Smock or shift under everything – you would wear this to bed at night so no need to change
Stays – called bodies, designed to give the woman a svelte figure but very uncomfortable
Pockets stitched to a band and knotted around the waist under the skirt
Skirt, also called a petticoat
Knitted woolen stockings
Felt or straw hat
I have an authentic costume made by the wardrobe mistress of the Raleigh Little Theater. Even without the stays and petticoats, I sweat profusely in the wool and linen.
The latchet shoe is made of sturdy leather. Closed latchet shoes were more practical in bad weather. It is thought the open latchet shoes were made to show off rich stockings. These shoes were worn by both men and women. There were holes in the latchet (fastening strap) and in the tongue for laces of leather, cord or ribbon.
Latchet shoes were not fitted for left or right feet but were made ‘straights’ or lasts. Wearers would rotate their shoes from left foot to right to even out the wear.
Work shoes tended to have the “flesh” side of the leather turned out since they didn’t need to be waxed or polished.
I have a pair of latchet shoes. They are very sturdy but hard on the feet, at least until I break them in!