Colonial Clothing

By Fayone B. Willes

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    Would you know what your mother was talking about if you were a colonial child and she woke you with the words “Hurry, children, time for morning chores. Abby, fold up your rail, push your slip shoes under the bed, and put a clean pinner on. Joshua, here are your breeches and jerkin. The ground is wet and you must remember to take your clogs and spatterdashes when you go to the barn?”

    In colonial times, children wore many of the same kinds of clothes that you do today, but they had different names.

    Cut out dolls and attach arms with brass fasteners. Then “people” the streets and houses on pages 24–25.

    jerkin (vest)—a sleeveless pullover with a short slit at the neck in front.

    breeches (pants or trousers)—these were usually baggy and held up by buttons to the jerkin.

    cassock (coat)—a long, loose garment worn over all other clothes when it was cold.

    rail (nightgown)—a roomy nightwear garment.

    slip shoes (house slippers)—soft indoor shoes.

    pinners (cap)—a head covering with streamers that hung down on either side.

    petticoat (skirt)—once worn as a fancy outer skirt. Women and girls usually wore several of them at a time.

    shift (slip)—long undershirt, loose-fitting dress, or woman’s chemise.

    clogs (boots or galoshes)—these slipped on over the shoes and were held on by a strap. They were raised up quite high to keep a person’s feet out of the water, snow, or mud.

    spatterdashes (not worn today)—thigh-high leggins to keep breeches clean.

    Illustrated by Lynda Banks