Religion in the Thirteen Colonies

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What is Puritan clothing like?

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I think we have a picture of Puritans dressed in formal dark clothing, white starched shirts, tall hats, and silver buckle shoes. All of the females with bonnets and long dresses. Very prim, proper, and precise!

Like most dress of the time, except for special days where formal attire was fashionable, the Puritan clothing was consistent with other colonists. Puritan clothing was mostly made of heavy wool. Linen would have been popular, but linen was not always practical in terms of durability tested by the stress of agriculture work. Puritan clothing would have been dyed dark colors like brown, black, or deep gray. Color choice was the result of their Puritan religious beliefs and the fact that color dyes were very expensive.

The Puritans wanted to separate their religious belief from the Church of England and the British in general. Puritans thought the church had become too liberal, enamored with ceremonies, elaborate robes, and ceremonial clothing. They believed English clothing worn by females accentuating the neckline and elaborately decorated was immodest.

Puritan females would dress simply. Their clothing would have three layers; a long heavy undergarment followed by a petticoat and an extended high neck button woolen skirt. Puritan women might wear a jacket over their skirt, and they always wore an apron with pockets. The apron was very practical for carrying tools or other items used in their daily work. The shoes were heavy ankle high leather and would be tied or buckled. Females always wore bonnets covering their head. The bonnet was both religious and practical. Religious in the Puritans believed a woman's head should always be covered in public. Practical in that the bonnet gave protection from the sun. Puritan females would have a cape or a long woolen coat when the weather was cool.

Puritan men were equally conservative and practical in their clothing. Their shirts would be very long and made of linen. Over the shirts, Puritan men would wear a vest made of heavy wool or leather. The pants would be knee length made from heavy wool. Sometimes they wore leather belts or suspenders. Puritan socks were long heavy wool socks. Men's shoes were very practical made of leather in either an ankle high or a high calf boot. Woolen coats or heavy capes were the Puritan male's choice for outerwear. Puritan men wore a variety of wide-brimmed hats much different from how we sometimes picture the hats worn by them. Hats were worn as protection from the sun, rain, or element. They needed to be functional, not stylish!

Puritan clothing exemplified the Puritan belief in living a simple modest lifestyle.

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