18th Century Clothing. Primitive Dress.

Le Loup

John McDouall Stuart
Apr 29, 2011
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New England NSW
In anticipation of a write up & photographs from Bloffy on his cloak & new cloak pin, I thought I would make a start on period clothing.

The woodsmen & woods Women of the 18th century in the American New World preferred to wear breeches & leggings or a breechclout & leggings. On their feet they wore moccasins, because this footwear was better suited to running the woods than white man's shoes, & of course they could be easily repaired & replaced. The leather leggings gave more protection against the harsh brush & snakes, & I find that a comfort when I am in the woods.


An original 18th century tricorn hat with a low crown & a wide brim. My own hat was also a tricorn but I found it of better use to let the brim down. One side I keep folded up, & depending on the weather & the sun position I will turn the hat around to suit my purpose.
Common outer wear was the frock, this was worn by tradesmen, carters, farm workers & woodsmen in England & the New World. This garment was still being worn in England up to & including the early 20th century.
This wool garment was known as a half-blanket, & that is what it is, a half of a blanket. Worn as a short cape they were often just a remnant of a damaged blanket. Worn in winter on very cold days, & worn in the woods at night for extra warmth.
Wilderness Living Part One Of 7 By Keith H. Burgess. #1.jpg
The early to mid 18th century waistcoat reached down below the waist. Woodrunners & travelers were known to carry & wear more than one of the same clothing item, eg two shirts, two waistcoats & two coats. I carry an extra wool shirt & wool waistcoat in my blanket roll for winter night wear, because they are lighter to carry than an extra blanket.
The shirt was cut full with wide sleeves giving free movement when working. The shirt was underwear & was long enough to be tucked between the legs.
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Indian leggings were close fitting & reached from just above the knee to down over the moccasins & were secured with a leather tie to a waist tie & with garters just below the knee.
Finger woven wool legging garters with French #7 white glass beads..jpg
I finger wove these garters from wool & beaded the fringe with white glass French #7 beads.
Moccasins 1.jpgMoccasin soles 1.jpg
The flaps on my woodland center seam moccasins come over & wrap around my ankles, giving me extra protection from snake bite.
My breechclout which I have worn on hot summer days is much cooler than breeches & gives more freedom of movement.
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barefoot dave

Mors Kochanski
Jan 1, 2014
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Keith, thanks again for your ongoing contributions. Also thanks for not including a photo of you wearing only the breechcloth ;)


Les Hiddins
Apr 4, 2018
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Noticed a lot of that clothing is loose so as to give freedom of movement. Everything was done manually in those pre industrial days using simpler type tools or implements.

No whirling wheels, belts or panting steam engines which came later.

For travellers either on foot or horse some extra layers of clothing would have been handy for sleeping out with only one blanket and a basic oilcloth shelter.

Which is pretty well all a person could carry in those days.

Thanks for putting all this up.

Edit: the hat in particular is a practical and useful thing as it could be moved around depending on the sun or whether needed better frontal vision such as when hunting.
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