Minute Man Living History Authenticity Standards for Girls

Infants younger than 10 months, Babes in Arms, Non-walking

Standard: A baby this age of any gender would be wearing shirt, clout (diaper), pilch (diaper cover), petticoat, cap, and robe, made according to patterns available at the link below, or something very similar. http://sharonburnston.com/baby_linen/index.html

These garment should be idally hand sewn, but some or all sewing done by machine is acceptable. The robe may be made from a printed cotton that closely resembles documented prints dated to 1775 or earlier.  Also acceptable are modern diapers, diaper covers, and socks, so long as they are completely covered by the petticoat and robe.

Exceeds Standard:  These garments, made as above, completely handsewn, made in white linen and/or fine white wool. The robe could be made in a documented cotton print.

Unacceptable:  Any modern baby clothing or gear that can be seen.

To keep a child this age warm in cold weather, you will want to layer multiple petticoats, robes, and caps, and wrap the baby in blankets.

Standard: White or red wool blankets, with no binding or trimming. Or, natural-fiber wool blankets of any reasonable, period-appropriate color.

Unacceptable: Blankets of synthetic material (which is also flammable). 

Girls, ages 10 months to 12 years

Standard: Hand or machine-stitched in white linen, white wool flannel (white cotton is also acceptable) with sleeves gathered into narrow (~ ½ ” finished) cuffs that sit just below the elbows.  Cuffs close with sleeve buttons (side-by-side “cuff links”) or narrow ties threaded through buttonholes.  Neck opening should be wide and low enough that the shift barely shows when worn with a proper gown. Natural/unbleached linen shift (sometimes with finer white sleeves) for lower sort impression. Cuffs with button-to-buttonhole closure, up to 1” wide cuffs. But you are strongly encouraged to modify all of these by adding 1/2" wide cuffs fitted with buttonholes to accommodate sleeve buttons. 

Exceeds Standard: Hand-stitched in white linen or white wool flannel with sleeves gathered into narrow (~ ½ ” finished) cuffs that sit just below the elbows.  Cuffs close with sleeve buttons (side-by-side “cuff links”) or narrow ties threaded through buttonholes.  Neck opening should be wide and low enough that the shift barely shows when worn with a proper gown. Natural/unbleached linen shift (sometimes with finer white sleeves) for lower sort impression.

Unacceptable: Synthetic fabric, three-quarter or long sleeves, high or grossly gathered drawstring neckline, neck ruffles longer than 1.25 inches, lace ruffles.

Standard:  Hand-stitched, fully boned stays with worsted or linen exterior fabric, the most common colors being dark green, blue, white, tan, and shades of brown. Machine-sewn (ideally hand-finished) stays, partially boned stays are also acceptable. Leather stays for lower sort impression only.  

Standard: Hand or machine- ewn, back-fastening girl’s gown (one piece or two pieces) in wool, linen, or printed cotton. Wool gowns were the most common and were worn in all seasons. Linen gowns shoujld be white, natural, blue, brown or in a balanced stripe consisting of these colors. Printed cotton textiles should be well documented to 1775 or earlier, or closely resemble documented prints of the period. Be sure the gown style (and other garments and accessories) that you choose matches your child’s particular impression.

Exceeds Standard: As detailed above, entriely hand-sewn. Printed cotton texticles should be well documented to 1775 or earlier.  

Unacceptable: Front-fastening gowns.  So-called “short gowns”, jackets, and caracos (current research indicates these were rarely seen in New England).  Sleeveless bodices.   Garments made of printed cottons with obviously modern patterns, such as modern calicos, cabbage roses, and paisleys.


Standard: At least one hand or machine-sewn petticoat, solid colored or striped.  Petticoats were generally made of wool or linen.  Linen petticoats should be white, natural, blue, brown or in a balanced stripe consisting of these colors.  Hand-quilted petticoats (wool, silk, and occasionally linen) and matelassé petticoats are also possibilities.  Petticoats should be pleated to narrow (~ ½“ finished) waistbands of self fabric or tape. Narrow cloth tape ties are attached at the sides of the waistband and wrap around to tie in front and back. Hems should be very small (1/4" finished). Alternatively, the bottom edge can be bound with wool tape.  The petticoats should be shorter than the gown.

Unacceptable:  Petticoats without sufficient fullness or shorter than mid-calf. No petticoat. Printed petticoats. Synthetic fabrics. Modern skirts.

Standard: Hand or machine-sewn with a bound edge, bound slit, and narrow ties to wrap around the waist.  Most are large and used to store all sorts of personal items.  Most often worn underneath the girl’s gown and accessible through the pocket slits. Some pockets were beautifully embroidered but were still hidden beneath outer layers. It is also ok to have any pockets though not ideal.

Unacceptable:  Visible pockets out “for show”.  Synthetic materials. Embroidery designs or printed fabrics that are not period-appropriate.

Standard: Hand or machine-sewn white, natural or checked. Half apron tied at waist only or bibbed apron with bib pinned to gown and waist ties. Most commonly linen, sometimes wool or linsey-woolsey. Checked aprons are often blue on a predominantly white ground (not the evenly balanced blue/white gingham commonly found today). Aprons are stroke-gathered to a narrow (~ ¼“ finished) waistband of self fabric or tape.  Narrow tape for ties is commonly wrapped around the back and tied in front. Aprons should be long enough and wide enough to cover a majority of the gown skirt front.  Hems should be very small (~¼“ finished).  Cotton aprons and pleated aprons are also acceptable. 

Unacceptable:  Wide hems.  Synthetic fabrics.  Printed or wildly colored fabrics.  Very short or very narrow aprons. Waistbands wider than ¾ “.  Drawstring aprons.  Aprons longer than the gown or petticoats they accompany.  Decorative aprons with ruffles, eyelet or lace. 

Standard:  Hand or machine-hemmed WHITE linen or cotton is most common. Triangles or squares (folded diagonally into triangles).  Wool worsted, wool flannel, linsey-woolsey, or silk handkerchiefs may be layered for warmth. COLORED PATTERNED handkerchiefs (block-printed, yarn-dyed, resist-dyed) were worn for work or by lower sorts.  Handkerchiefs should be large enough to be draped around the shoulders and cover the throat. Handkerchiefs may be tucked into the gown front or pinned to the outside of the gown front. However, handkerchiefs should be left out over the shoulders and over the back of the gown no matter how they are worn in front. Girls with no handkerchief is also documented.

Unacceptable:  Fringed or knitted shawls. Synthetic fabrics. Handkerchief with modern pattern motif. Paisleys. Handkerchief tucked into the back of the gown. Handkerchief tied together in front. Modern scarves (long rectangles).

For indepth information on women's neckwear, see this video with Ruth Hodges.

In 1775 New England we can identify three cap styles for the middling and working class girl --the lappet, the round eared, and the dormeuse.The LAPPET cap seems to have been the most common, on both the young and the old.  It refers to a style that ties under the chin.  It has a U-shaped caul and a band that comes down into little tapering lappets that meet under the chin. A ruffle is attached to the band.  The ruffle is most often eased to the band, whith gathering only around the tips of the lappet.

ROUND EARED caps have a U-shaped caul, a straight-grain band that is rounded off (not squared) at the level of the ears, and a ruffle that is either gathered, pleated, or eased.

THE DORMEUSE has a caul and two crescent-shaped wings. The wings curve sharply upward in the middle toward the top of the head. The wings may be gathered, pleated, or eased. If they are merely eased, then they have a small ruffle gathered or pleated to their outer edge. The proportions and shapes of these vary but they most often appear to be worn well back from the face with high hair. This was the newest of the three cap styles and was therefore most likely seen on more fashionable girls. 

Standard: Hand or machine-sewn fine white linen, cotton, or silk organza in one of the three cap styles described above.  Caps were generally trimmed with a silk ribbon tied in back or on top of the head.  Hair put up under the cap. Some hair should be visible in front, with the cap set at least 1” back from the hairline. Older girls may want to use hair pieces (sometimes called “rats”) added to the top of the head under the cap to create more volume. Hair may also be worn down. Bangs should be pinned back.

Unacceptable:  Synthetic or colored caps.  Synthetic ribbon.  So-called “mob caps” (circular caps consisting of one piece of material gathered all around to create both caul and ruffle).  Caps worn down over the forehead or enveloping the face with no hair showing.  Hair dyed in a color that is not a natural hair color.

Standard: Hand or machine-stitched hat, bonnet or hood using period-appropriate construction techniques. Hats, bonest and hoods were worn over a cap. 

HAT with a flat, shallow crown (~ ½“ high) made from straw, or silk-covered with a diameter no greater than 14”, tied at the back of the head with silk ribbons attached under the brim.  Hat brims may be gently turned up in front and/or in back. Most often hand-trimmed with silk ribbon.

OR, BONNET, far and away most often in black, but a few in white, green, crimson, pink, and blue have been documented to New England. It’s possible that the colored bonnets were most often worn by girls and young women (more research needed). Most often made from silk satin, with others of silk taffeta or sarsnet (twilled silk), although bonnets of wool durant or stuff may be worn by working women in colder weather.  Short, high brim that curves across the face just above eye level, with a high rounded crown/caul.  Bow trims made from self trim or sometimes silk ribbon.  Brims may be made from paste board (“bonnet board”) or boned or buckram.
Thank you to Kirsten Hammerstrom for the bonnet details noted above. Her KittyCalash blog entry on bonnets in New England is included in the Addendum.

OR, HOOD, either attached to cloaks or separate, often seen in cold weather. They were sometimes worn under bonnets with short cloaks. Hoods were sometimes red wool (as an accessory to a red wool cloak). They were also made from black silk satin, black silk taffeta, and black velvet, but were known to have existed in blue, brown, gray, "yellowish”, and "drab".

Unacceptable:  Synthetic ribbon for trim or ties.  Hat with high modern crown greater than one inch. Hat with ties on top of the brim or tied under the chin. Hat folded down over the ears.   Hat or bonnet decorated with feathers or flowers. Hat with back curled severely forward to touch the crown. Hat, bonnet, or hood worn without a cap underneath. Fur caps, sheepskin hats, modern hats of any kind.

Standard: Hand or machine-made stockings in white/cream, natural, blue, brown, gray or black, also "mixed" and with or without a center back seam. Stockings knit flat in the style of frame stockings may be hand-knit or made on a modern flatbed knitting machine. (see addendum). Stockings cut and sewn from knit fabric yardage using an accurate pattern. Wool, linen, or cotton knee socks (because the tops are not visible under the petticoat) –again in white/cream, natural, blue, brown, gray, or black, also “mixed”. For small girls, tights in cotton or wool (same colors as above) may stay up better than stockings.

Unacceptable:  Red, yellow, or green stockings or socks. Brightly colored tights 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).

Standard: Hand or machine-constructed, appropriately styled shoes with period-style buckles on black or red leather uppers, or sturdy black wool uppers (if available). Shoes occasionally closed with ties (one hole only on each side), particularly for a lower sort impression.  Any simply styled modern black leather shoes will be acceptable although we urge you to make some modifications as indicated below.

Unacceptable: Obviously modern shoes such as hiking boots, sneakers, lug soles, etc.  Shoes that lace up with more than one hole on each side. Moccasins. Obviously fake buckles. Dutch-style wooden clogs.

Standard: Original or reproduction period-correct glasses with round (not oval) lenses.  

Unacceptable:  Modern sunglasses or period frames with tinted lenses.

Standard: No jewelry. No makeup. Tinned brass, wound-head pins (for garment closure, sewing, etc.) Coral beads on a choker-length necklace fastened with silk ribbon for middling impressions.  A simple narrow silk ribbon (generally black) tied high around the neck, generally on older girls.  Plain straight modern pins. Plain hat pins.   

Unacceptable:  Obviously modern jewelry or watches. Obviously modern pins, such as those with plastic heads.

Standard:  Hand or machine-stitched (ideally hand-finished) wool cloak, far and away most commonly RED but also known to have existed in blue, brown, gray, drab, and very occasionally green.  Closed with ties (wool tape or silk ribbon) at the neck.  Made from wool broadcloth that can hold a cut edge. Generally mid-calf for longer cloaks, and wrist-length for shorter cloaks. With or without hood.  Hoods should be fan-pleated in back and may be lined in silk.  The body of the cloak should not be lined. The edges of the cloak may be bound or trimmed with wide silk ribbon or wool tape.

Unacceptable:  Celtic-style or fantasy cloaks.  Cloaks closing with decorative metal clasps.  Cloaks with hemmed edges.  Synthetic or patterned fabrics.

Standard:  Layer on extra petticoats and handkerchiefs.  Wool and silk are warmer than linen and cotton.  Wear thin silk stockings under heavier wool stockings. Wear a wool flannel shift.  Wear a quilted or matelassé (mock-quilted) or wool flannel girl’s-style waistcoat (tied in front) under her gown. Wear a quilted or matelassé (mock-quilted) petticoat and woolen or worsted gown. Elbow length gloves with period appropriate details. Bonnets and hoods are warmer than flat hats. A long heavy wool broadcloth cloak. Waterproofed period-appropriate shoes. A handkerchief worn over or under her hat/bonnet and tied under her chin, especially in windy weather. Long underwear, especially silk because it is thin and warm, worn under clothing so it is not visible.

Unacceptable:  Modern garments and accessories that are visible. Fringed or knitted shawls.  Modern scarves.

Standard:  POCKETS (hidden under gown). So-called “market” wallets (usually natural linen). Linen pillow cases (white linen, unbleached linen, or linen ticking). Handkerchief bundles (made with period-appropriate handkerchiefs). Frails (soft-sided grass baskets with two short handles) seem to have been used primarily for food-stuffs, and also as baby carriers!

Acceptable: Split-wood or willow baskets in period-appropriate styles are best for carrying large quantities of things.  (Try to avoid using baskets as purses. Use your pockets instead!) 

Unacceptable: Haversacks.  Knapsacks. Rattan baskets.  Baskets made of synthetic materials.  Basket styles that post-date our period (such as “Nantucket baskets”). Baskets that are obviously modern in appearance.  Baskets made with metal tacks or glue. Modern containers or bags.

Standard:  Games that can be documented to the 18th century, including sack races, grinning matches, blind man’s bluff, building houses of cards, blowing bubbles (through a clay pipe or reed straw), tea parties, leap-frog, hoop & hide (hide & seek), playing catch, and hop-scotch. Good reproductions of toys documented to the 18th century, including trundling hoop (“hula hoop”-sized) and stick, marbles, simple dolls, tops, whizzer/buzz-saw, ball-and-cup, playing cards, toy drums and recorders, all-wood toy guns and swords, dice, and knucklebones. See full list of 18th century toys and games in the Addendum.

NB: Most 18th century children had few toys, and therefore played games more often. And most toys in the 18th century were gendered.

Unacceptable: Cap guns. Graces. Jacob’s Ladder. (If you find documentation to the 18th century for these toys, please share!)

Standard:  Produce that is seasonally appropriate to 18th century New England (for example, fresh apples only in the fall). Food wrapped in linen cloth. ood 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.  

Standard: Mitts are highly encouraged when outdoors. Mitts protect the wearer from the sun and/or cold.   Mitts are elbow-length fingerless gloves, with a half-thumb, most often with a point over the back of the hand, the tip of which is generally lined in a contrasting solid color fabric and can be turned back on itself.  Sometimes the entire mitt is lined. They may be hand- or machine-knit wool or sewn from wool fabric, linen, or leather. (Silk mitts would be for the upper sort.) Period-appropriate details often include three lines of embroidery along the back of the hand. The most common leather mitts are made from black, white, or purple lambskin.

Exceeds Standard: Hand-knit or hand-sewn, otherwise as detailed above.

Unacceptable: Obviously modern fingerless gloves. 

Last updated: December 6, 2023

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