What Did the Pilgrims Wear

What did the pilgrims wear to the first Thanksgiving? Contrary to some beliefs, the pilgrims did not wear mostly black with white collars and cuffs. These clothes were not seen until after 1632, and even then they may have only been worn for formal occasions. The pilgrims' religion did not ban bright and colorful clothing, so they wore many bright colors, always solids. Plymouth's pilgrims had access to natural fabric dyes and made clothes in red, beige, green, burgundy, violet and blue. Black and brown clothing was also worn.

Women and Girls
Pilgrim girls wore solid-color, ankle-length skirts. There were no looms at Plymouth Plantation, so clothing was made from cloth brought from England.

Women wore one-piece dresses or skirts with a bodice. The single-piece dresses were all one color, and the full skirt was gathered at the waist and at the top. The sleeves were long. The two-piece skirt and bodice dresses could be the same color, or the skirt could be a different color than the bodice. The fabric was always a solid color.

The women also wore coifs and biggins, or bonnets. This was to keep their hair clean. When the women were working, they would wear aprons. Depending on what the woman liked, the apron may or may not have had a bib. In the summer, if the women wanted to stay cooler, they would wear floppy straw hats to help shade them from the sun. At other times, they would wear floppy felt hats, similar to the men's hats. The hats were worn over the top of the bonnets.

Men and Boys
Pligrim boys wore the same clothing as their fathers. Men's clothing was made of solid-colored material and used the same colors that women wore. Shirts were long-sleeved and buttoned down the middle. Men and boys also wore shirts similar to modern sweatshirts, but these "blouses" were loose-fitting.

Pants, called breeches, were baggy and were held on at the waist with a belt. Breeches were gathered below the knees with garters tied in a bow. Both men and boys wore solid-color stockings. The colors of all three pieces could be the same or three could be different. 

The hats the men and boys wore looked like stocking caps of today. Men also wore floppy felt hats.

Special Occasions
On special occasions, the pilgrims' clothes included a lace collar, called a ruff, and lace cuffs that were worn by both men and women. The women also wore a waistcoat and a skirt for some special occasions. Men would wear a linen shirt under a close-fitting, padded doublet.

Both men and women wore loose-fitting coats and capes during the winter. Their shoes were made by hand and do not compare with anything that can be found today. Pilgrim shoes were usually black or brown.

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