Best: Hand-stitched in white, natural, or checked linen or wool flannel with full sleeves gathered into narrow (~ ½ ” finished) cuffs. Checked linen was most commonly blue on a predominantly white ground (not the evenly balanced blue/white gingham check found in many shirts being sold). Cuffs close with sleeve buttons (side-by-side “cuff links”). Collar closes with two or three thread (Dorset) buttons. Center front slit is deep (~10-12”) and may be kept closed with a shirt buckle (usually round or heart-shaped). For most impressions, collar is pulled up high and worn snugly closed around neck. Body is long (to lower thigh) and full.
Acceptable: Machine-stitched linen, lightweight wool, or cotton shirt, otherwise as detailed above. Shorter center front slit. Collar closing with non-thread buttons (because not visible). Cuffs closing with button and buttonhole is acceptable.
Unacceptable: Synthetic fabrics. Modern shirts. Shirt collars worn like modern collars (low on the neck and falling over the neck cloth leaving only the front knot exposed).
For indepth information on neckwear, see Ruth Hodges' slideshow.
Best: Hand-hemmed WHITE linen, cotton, or silk is the most common handkerchief (~30-36” square) or neck cloth (long narrow rectangle). Neck cloths sometimes had short fringe at the ends and often filled in the upper portion of a partially unbuttoned waistcoat; this is best worn by older men because it’s somewhat old-fashioned in 1775. COLORED and PATTERNED handkerchiefs (block-printed, yarn-dyed, resist-dyed) were worn for laboring or by lower sorts. Handkerchiefs and neck cloths were most commonly tied snugly over the collar which should be pulled straight up, with collar completely hidden or collar points extending neatly over the top of the neckwear.
Acceptable: Machine-hemmed handkerchiefs, otherwise detailed as above.
Unacceptable: No neckwear. Synthetic fabrics. Handkerchiefs with modern pattern motifs. Paisleys. Military horsehair or leather neck stocks. Jabots. Ruffled stocks.
Best: Hand-finished, round-blocked hats made of BLACK wool or beaver felt, cut round, lined with linen, and left plain or cocked in appropriate non-military styles.
Acceptable: Oval-blocked black hats, otherwise as detailed above. Machine- or hand-knitted wool “Monmouth” or Dutch sailor’s caps with small brim, commonly with some height and slouch to them, in solid natural wool colors or striped as seen in period images.
Unacceptable: No hat or cap outdoors. Brown or gray felt hats. Colored felt hats. Unfinished (unshaped and unstyled) wool felt hat blanks worn as slouch hats. Straw hats. Hats with feathers, pipes, money, animal fur, and other trinkets tucked into them. Stocking caps. Modern knitted winter caps. Synthetic knitted caps. Fur caps/hats, sheepskin hats, modern hats or modern caps of any kind.
Best: Hand-stitched, well-fitted wool coat or jacket of drab, brown, green, red, blue, gray or black. Coats may be straight-bodied (more old fashioned) or in a more fitted cutaway style. Coats and jackets were most commonly made in wool and were worn in all seasons. For warmer weather, hand-stitched, well-fitted linen coat and jacket in natural, blue or brown.* Sleeves of outer garment should be fitted and short enough to show the wrist band of the shirt (unlike most modern outer garments). Coats are approximately knee-length. Jackets are generally a hip-length version of a coat.
Acceptable: Machine-stitched coat or jacket, otherwise as detailed above. Knee-length (or longer) overshirts/farmer’s smocks ONLY acceptable when portraying a farmer or tradesman AT WORK, and NOT FOR MILITARY IMPRESSIONS.
NB: Coats should be worn with a waistcoat (sleeved or sleeveless). Buttoned jackets do not require a waistcoat worn under them.
Discouraged but acceptable for 2019 - 2021: Coats or jackets made from cotton canvas, otherwise as detailed above. Sleeved waistcoats as an outer garment. (These are styled exactly as waistcoats but with sleeves, and they are not much better than just shirtsleeves in terms of appropriate wear outdoors.) These will be unacceptable starting in 2022.
Unacceptable: Outer garments made from damask upholstery fabric. No sleeved outer garment (coat, jacket, or sleeved waistcoat). Coat without a waistcoat worn under it. Regimental coats. Hunting/rifle/frontier shirts. Smocks or over-shirts for militia impression. Baggy coats. Uniforms of any kind.
*Wool coat or jacket is required (starting in 2022) for the Battle Road programs and other Patriots Day weekend events unless the weather forecast calls for high temperatures in which case the Battle Road Committee will decide if linen is acceptable.
See addendum documents by Henry Cooke "Why Wool?" and an explanation of cotton canvas
Best: Hand-stitched, well-fitted (snug) wool of drab, brown, green, red, blue, gray or black. Waistcoats were most commonly made in wool and were worn in all seasons. For warmer weather, hand-stitched, well fitted *linen waistcoat of natural, blue or brown, or balanced stripes in these colors. Waistcoats are hip-length and waistcoat front should cover the breeches buttons before cutting away. The waistcoat neckline should be small and well-fitted around the base of the collar. Sleeved waistcoats are styled as waistcoats but with sleeves. Sleeved waistcoats were intended to be worn under a coat or greatcoat, and only by themselves if laboring or in hot weather.
Acceptable: Machine-stitched waistcoat, otherwise as detailed above.
Discouraged but acceptable for 2019 - 2021: Waistcoats made from cotton canvas, otherwise as detailed above. Sleeved waistcoats worn as an outer garment. These will be unacceptable starting in 2022.
Unacceptable: Baggy or extremely long waistcoats. Waistcoats made from damask upholstery fabric. No waistcoat (unless wearing a fully buttoned jacket).
*Wool waistcoat is required (starting in 2022) for the Battle Road programs and other Patriots Day weekend events unless the weather forecast calls for high temperatures in which case the Battle Road Committee will decide if linen is acceptable.
See addendum document by Henry Cooke "Why Wool?" and an explanation of cotton canvas
Best: Hand-stitched, well-fitted breeches of undyed buckskin leather (i.e., “bucked skin”, such as goat, sheep, and deer) or wool broadcloth in black, brown or drab (most common colors), or gray, green, blue or red. Other types of acceptable fabrics include wool kersey, linsey-woolsey, wool serge, cotton velvet, fine wale cotton corduroy, or wool plush. For warmer weather, hand-stitched, well fitted *linen breeches in natural, blue or brown. Hand-stitched, well-fitted trousers of linen or hemp canvas or period-appropriate checked linen for lower sort impression. Trousers may be worn over breeches. Buckled knee bands were most common as they held up the stockings well. Tied knee bands were common on leather breeches, or for cheaper breeches for the lower sort. Overall snug fit for breeches and trousers, except the baggy seat (to allow ease of movement). Knee band fitted snugly just below the knee to hold up the stockings.
Acceptable: Machine-stitched (ideally hand finished), well-fitted breeches or trousers, otherwise as detailed above. Breeches knee band closed with a button and buttonhole (documented but less common).
Discouraged but acceptable for 2019 - 2021: Breeches made from cotton canvas, otherwise as detailed above. These will be unacceptable starting in 2022.
*Wool, linsey-woolsey, cotton velvet, or fine wale cotton corduroy breeches are required (starting in 2022) for the Battle Road programs and other Patriots Day weekend events unless the weather forecast calls for high temperatures in which case the Battle Road Committee will decide if linen is acceptable.
Unacceptable: Baggy breeches. Calf-length breeches. Fringed suede frontier-style trousers. Synthetic fabrics. Modern pants, modified or not.
See addendum documents by Henry Cooke "Why Wool?" and an explanation of cotton canvas
Best: Densely knit stockings of wool, linen, or cotton. Colors are white/cream, natural, blue, brown, gray, or black, also “mixed”. Stocking length is above the knee.
Frame-knit stockings (or socks for trousers) knit flat to shape and stitched up the center back to form a visible seam. [These are commercially unavailable at the time of this writing.] Hand-knit stockings or socks knit in the round to shape with a faux seam of purl stitches up the center back. Plain knit and vertically ribbed stockings (all one color) are both documented for men. Gore clocks (embellishment on both sides of the ankle) are subtle and same-color. Choose clocked stockings with caution, match to your impression, and be aware many modern reproductions are not accurate. Lastly, stockings should be held up by the knee band of the breeches.
Acceptable: Machine-made or hand-made stockings in white/cream, natural, blue, brown, gray, or black, also “mixed”, and without a center back seam. Stockings knit flat in the style of frame-knit stockings may be hand-knit or made on a modern flatbed knitting machine (see details for frame-knit stockings in the Addendum). Stockings cut and sewn from knit fabric yardage using an accurate pattern. Cloth tape garters should be hidden, but better yet, tighten the fit of the knee bands to hold up the stockings.
Unacceptable: Red, yellow, or green stockings or socks. Striped stockings, synthetic stockings, athletic socks. Elaborate knit patterns such as cables and textures. Diced (Highland) hose. Buckled leather garters (these were military issue). Visible garters of any kind.
See addendum document by Paul Dickfoss about common stocking colors found in runaway advertisements.
See the addendum document for more construction details and information about men's stockings.
Best: Hand-stitched, well-fitted spatterdashes (also called half-gaiters) of black, brown, or drab wool, or black leather. Spatterdashes were intended to protect the shoes and stockings from dirt and excessive wear. No spatterdashes are necessary over appropriately-styled shoes.
Acceptable: Machine-stitched, well-fitted spatterdashes, otherwise as detailed above. Well-fitted black, brown or drab cotton or linen canvas. Well-fitted spatterdashes should be worn over modern shoes (see “Shoes”) if beginners do not have appropriately-styled reproduction shoes.
Discouraged but acceptable for 2019 - 2021: Well-fitted military-style gaiters (with the center back point), otherwise as detailed above. These will be unacceptable starting in 2022.
Unacceptable: Baggy or droopy spatterdashes. Wool leggings, Indian leggings. Tall, knee-length F&I style gaiters.
Best: Hand-constructed, appropriately styled shoes with period-style buckles and black leather uppers.
Acceptable: Machine-stitched, appropriately styled shoes with period-style buckles and black leather uppers. Machine-stitched, appropriately styled shoes, occasionally with ties (one hole only on each latchet), for a lower sort impression. Black leather tied half-boots are less common, generally for stable boys, grooms, and huntsmen. Knee-high leather boots for horse-riders only. Beginners may wear modern black leather shoes with a distinct heel and a smooth toe (no pieced/stitched/decorated leather at the toe); well-fitted spatterdashes (see “Spatterdashes”) must be worn over the modern shoes so that they appear to be period-appropriate shoes.
Unacceptable: Shoes with no distinct heel. Fake buckles. Modern shoes without spatterdashes. Obviously modern shoes, such as hiking boots, sneakers, lug soles, etc. Shoes that visibly lace up with more than one hole on each side. Moccasins. Civil War bootees.
Best: Natural shoulder-length hair or long hair tied back in a queue with a black silk ribbon. A natural hair wig dressed in a period style.
Acceptable: Short-cropped hair in a modest, current style, covered with a hat or cap. Hair extension or false queue.
Unacceptable: Obviously synthetic wigs (they glint in the sun), like those found at a costume shop, often low on the forehead. Hair dyed in a color that is not a natural hair color.
Best: No facial hair.
Acceptable: Maximum 3-days ALL-OVER stubble. Runners (ear-length sideburns) on younger fashion-oriented men.
Unacceptable: Full beards, moustaches (goatees, soul patches, etc.) Any facial hair beyond a 3-day all-over stubble growth.
NB: If you customarily wear a moustache, goatee or other partial facial hair, you should remove it entirely, as even the shadow of a moustache, goatee, or specially trimmed beard will appear inappropriate for the period.
Best: No glasses. Original period-correct glasses with round (not oval) lenses.
Acceptable: Reproduction period-appropriate glasses with round lenses. Tinted lenses were rare and should only be worn if portraying someone who is ill (e.g., syphilitic) or who has a modern medical condition requiring them; they still should be period-correct round lenses. Subtle wire-framed modern glasses.
Discouraged but acceptable for 2019 - 2021: Reproduction frames with oval lenses. These will be unacceptable starting in 2022.
Unacceptable: Plastic-framed glasses. Modern tinted lenses or sunglasses.
Best: Cheesebox or staved wooden canteen with 1” wide leather or iron keepers suitable for attaching a narrow woven hemp or leather strap or hemp cord for carrying. Staved canteens should have interlocking wooden (not iron/metal) hoops. Wooden canteens should have a flush opening.
Acceptable for soldiers: Period-correct wooden rundlet. Modern water bottle hidden in a linen drawstring bag and carried in a pocket or knapsack, kept out of sight when not in use.
Discouraged but acceptable in 2019 - 2021: Kidney, crescent, or oval tin canteens. Stainless steel canteens. (Ideally, stainless steel canteens should be dulled with lemon juice and steel wool to appear more like tin.) Fabric-covered canteens. NOTE: All three options will be unacceptable for all starting in 2022.
Unacceptable: Gourds. Flasks, bottles, or jugs suspended by carrying straps or cords. Leather bottles (“jacks”). Modern water bottles not concealed in a linen drawstring bag. Metal hoops, non-flush openings, fake/non-interlocking wooden hoops, and large keepers on wooden canteens. Cotton webbing straps.
See addendum document by Alex Cain (aka Historical Nerdery) "A Wooden Bottle Made With One Hoop" - Why Tin Canteens Were Not Carried By Massachusetts Militia Men at Lexington and Concord"
Best: Period-correct wooden rundlet. Leather-covered pocket or saddle flask (note that these are small and fit in a coat pocket and are not suspended by a strap). Period-correct hand-blown glass bottle, without a carrying strap. Stoneware jug, without a carrying strap.
Acceptable: Modern water bottle hidden in a linen drawstring bag and carried in a pocket or sack, kept out of sight when not in use.
Unacceptable: Gourds. Flasks, bottles, or jugs suspended by carrying straps or cords. Leather bottles (“jacks”). Modern water bottles not concealed in a linen drawstring bag.
Best: Plain single-pouch bags that conform to the Captain David Uhl pattern. An “Uhl” pack should be made out of hemp canvas or heavy weight linen with a flap closure and two shoulder straps made of the same material as used for the bag. The flap should be closed with three buttons and buttonholes. The pack may either be painted red ochre or left unpainted. NB: Knapsacks will be optional for soldiers in the Battle Road 2019 - 2021 events, but they will be required for Battle Road starting in 2022.
Acceptable: Blanket rolls, storing necessities in your pockets.
Discouraged but acceptable in 2019 - 2021: Cotton canvas two-strap knapsacks. NOTE: These will be unacceptable for all starting in 2022.
Unacceptable: Haversacks, Elisha Grose packs, Warner packs, Isaac Royal House knapsacks, British painted or goatskin knapsacks. “Snapsacks” (linen tubes with a drawstring at one end and one strap).
See addendum documents by Alex Cain (aka Historical Nerdery) concerning haversacks and snapsacks.
Best for civilians: Storing necessities in your pockets. So-called “market” wallets (usually unbleached linen). Linen pillow cases (white linen, unbleached linen, or linen ticking). Handkerchief bundles (made with period-appropriate handkerchiefs).
Unacceptable for all: Haversacks, Elisha Grose packs, Warner packs, Isaac Royal House knapsacks, British painted or goatskin knapsacks. “Snapsacks” (linen tubes with a drawstring at one end and one strap).
See addendum documents by Alex Cain (aka Historical Nerdery) concerning haversacks and snapsacks.
Best: Handwoven wool or linsey-woolsey. Blankets may be either “imported” (a solid piece of material) or “colonial” (a seam down the middle where the two halves are joined). Appropriate blanket patterns include striped, checked, and plaid, and should closely resemble period blankets. 2- or 3-point blankets, rose blankets, Dutch blankets, and solid colored blankets are all appropriate. Solid colors include off-white, red, blue, and drab.
Blankets can be tied to a pack or carried on a leather or hemp tumpline.
Acceptable: Machine-woven, plain, off-white, red, blue, or drab wool blankets. Modified Army/Navy blankets cut down to a smaller, more appropriate size (~60-65” wide). Civilians do not need blankets.
Unacceptable: Civil War gray blankets, modern blankets, synthetic blankets (such as polar fleece), and Hudson Bay blankets.
NB: Blankets will be optional for soldiers in the Battle Road 2019 - 2021 events, but they will be required for Battle Road starting in 2022.
Best: Waist or shoulder belt mounted bayonet, hunting sword or cutlass appropriately sheathed. For officers, a small sword appropriately sheathed.
Acceptable: No bladed side arm.
Unacceptable: Tomahawks or belt axes carried in a belt. Unsheathed bayonets and swords.
Best: New England style soft cartridge pouches in black or fair leather with approximately 19-round cartridge blocks, narrow (~ 2” wide) black or buff leather straps, or linen webbing shoulder straps.
Acceptable: Small, simple leather shot pouches with narrow leather shoulder straps, or belt loops, accompanied by an EMPTY powder horn. Belly boxes or shoulder-converted belly boxes.
Discouraged but acceptable for 2019 - 2021: British 36- or 29-hole cartridge pouch. New Model (29-hole) American pouches. Both options will be unacceptable starting in 2022.
Unacceptable: Tin cartridge canisters.
Best: Plain, empty, powder horn with narrow leather strap or woven linen/hemp strap.
Acceptable: No powder horn, as long as you have a cartridge pouch.
Unacceptable: Horns filled with black powder. Native-styled powder horns. (See historic weapons requirements.)
Best: Layer on extra waistcoats, jackets, and handkerchiefs. Wool and silk are warmer than linen and cotton. Wear thin silk stockings under heavier wool stockings. Wear a wool flannel shirt. Hand-knit or hand-sewn woolen or leather fingerless mitts, mittens, or gloves. Waterproofed period-appropriate shoes for rain or snow. A handkerchief worn over or under your hat and tied under your chin, especially in windy weather. Wool spatterdashes. Heavy wool broadcloth greatcoat or man’s calf-length cloak.
Acceptable: Long underwear, especially silk because it is thin and warm, worn under clothing so it is not visible. Machine-knit woolen or leather fingerless mitts, mittens, or gloves.
Unacceptable: Modern garments and accessories that are visible. Modern scarves. Long strips of wool that look like modern scarves (layer on the handkerchiefs instead).
Best: Produce that is seasonally appropriate to 18th century New England (for example, fresh apples only in the fall). Food wrapped in linen cloth. Food that would have been available in the 1775 Boston area. Wooden, pewter, or tin bowl or plate. Tin, pewter, or redware mug. Horn or pewter eating utensils.
Acceptable: Food wrapped in parchment paper, otherwise as detailed above. Suggestions: bakery-style bread, cheese, hard sausage, hard-boiled eggs, dried apples.
Unacceptable: Modern packaged food. Plastic containers. Plastic wrap and foil. Food that is not seasonal or appropriate to 1775 New England.
Best: No jewelry. Period-appropriate original pocket watch (but only for those who could afford them) kept in breeches fob (small pocket set into breeches waistband). Period-appropriate shirt buckle to close bosom slit on shirt.
Acceptable: Reproduction pocket watch kept in the fob (waistband pocket) of your breeches (not your waistcoat pocket or side pockets of breeches). Simple wedding bands.
Unacceptable: Any jewelry, including piercings, that is not listed above.
Last updated: March 8, 2019