18th Century apparel / First hand
The Annals of
John F. Watson
Here follows the text from the
chapter "Apparel" from this excellent old book.
I hope you find it interesting as
well as helpful
" We run through every
change, which fancy
At the loom has genius to
THERE is a very marked and wide difference between our
moderns and the ancients in their several views of appropriate
dress: The latter, in our judgment of them, were always stiff
and formal, unchanging in their cut and fit in the gentry, or
negligent and rough in texture in the commonalty; whereas the
moderns, casting off all former modes and forms, and inventing
every new device which fancy can supply, just please the wearers
"while the fashion is at full."
It will much help our just conceptions of our forefathers, and
their good dames, to know what were their personal appearances:
To this end, some facts illustrative of their attire will be given.
Such as it was among the gentry, was a constrained and pains-
taking service, presenting nothing of ease and gracefulness in
the use. While we may wonder at its adoption and long contin-
uance, we will hope never again to see it return! But who can
hope to check or restrain fashion if it should chance-again to set
that way; or, who can foresee that the next generation may not be
even more stiff and formal than any which has past, since we see,
even now, our late graceful and easy habits of both sexes already
partially supplanted by "monstrous novelty and strange disguise!"
-men and women stiffly corsetted&emdash;another name for stays of
yore, long unnatural-looking waists, shoulders stuffed and deform-
ed as Richard's, and artificial hips- protruding garments of as
ample folds as claimed the ton when senseless hoops prevailed !
Our forefathers were excusable for their formal cut, since, know~
ing no changes in the mode, every child was like its sire, resting
in " the still of despotism," to which every mind by education and
habit was settled; but no such apology exists for us, who have wit-
nessed better things. We have been freed from their servitude;
and now to attempt to go back to their strange bondage, deserves
the severest lash of satire, and should be resisted by every satirist
and humorist who writes for public reform.
In all these things, however, we must be subject to female control;
for, reason as we will, and scout at monstrous novelties as we may,
female attractions will eventually win and seduce our sex to their
attachment, "as the loveliest of creation," in whatever form they
may choose to array: As " it is not good for man to be alone," they
will be sure to follow through every giddy maze which fashion
runs. We know, indeed, that ladies themselves are in bondage to
their milliners, and often submit to their new imported modes with
lively sense of dissatisfaction, even while they commit themselves
to the general current, and float along with the multitude.
OUR forefathers were occasionally fine practical satirists on
offensive innovations in dress&emdash;they lost no time in paraphrastic
verbiage which might or might not effect its aim, but with most
effective appeal to the populace, they quickly carried their point,
by making it the scoff and derision of the town! On one occasion,
when the ladies were going astray after a passion for long red
cloaks, to which their lords had no affections, they succeeded to
ruin their reputation, by concerting with the executioners to have
a female felon hung in a cloak of the best ton ! On another occa-
sion, in the time of the Revolution, when the " tower" head-gear
of the ladies were ascending, Babel-like, to the skies, the growing
enormity was effectually repressed, by the parade through the
streets of a tall male figure in ladies attire, decorated with the odi-
ous tower-gear; and preceded by a drum! At an earlier period,
one of the intended dresses, called a trollopee, (probably from the
word trollop) became a subject of offence. The satirists, who
guarded and framed the sumptuary code of the town, procured the
wife of Daniel Pettitteau the hangman, to be arrayed in full dress
trollopee, &c. and to parade the town with rude music ! Nothing
could stand the derision of the populace ! Delicacy and modesty
shrunk from the gaze and sneers of the multitude ! And the trollopee,
like the others, was abandoned !
Mr. B------, a gentleman of 80 years of age, hag given me his
recollections of the costumes of his early days in Philadelphia, to
this affect, to wit: Men wore three-square or cocked hats, and wigs,
coats with large cuffs, big skirts, lined and stiffened with buckram.
None ever saw a crown higher than the head. The coat of a beau
had three or four large plaits in the skirts, wadding almost like a
coverlet to keep them smooth, cuffs, very large, up to the elbows,
open below and inclined down, with lead therein; the capes were
thin and low, so as readily to expose the close plaited neck-stock
of fine linen cambric, and the large silver stock-buckle on the
back of the neck, shirts with hand ruffles, sleeves finely plaited,
breeches close fitted, with silver, stone or paste gem buckles, shoes
or pumps with silver buckles of various sizes and patterns, thread,
worsted and silk stockings; the poorer class wore sheep and buck-
skin breeches close set to the limbs. Gold and silver sleeve but-
tons, set with stones or paste, of various colours and kinds, adorned
the wrists of the shirts of all classes. The very boys often wore
wigs, and their dresses in general were similar to that of the men.
The odious use of wigs was never disturbed till after the return
of Braddock's broken army. They appeared in Philadelphia, wea-
ring only their natural hair&emdash;a mode well adapted to the military,
and thence adopted by our citizens. The king of England too,
about this time, having cast off his wig malgre the will of the peo-
ple, and the petitions and remonstrances of the periwig makers
of London, thus confirmed the change of fashion here, and com-
pleted the ruin of our wig makers.*
*The use of wigs must have been peculiarly an English fashion, as I find Kalm in 1749
speaks of the French gentlemen then as wearing their own hair.
The women wore caps, (a bare head was never seen !) stiff stays,
hoops from six inches to two feet on each side, so that a full
dressed lady entered a door like a crab, pointing her obtruding
flanks end foremost, high healed shoes of black stuff with white
cotton or thread stockings; and in the miry times of winter they
wore clogs, gala shoes, or pattens.
The days of stiff coats, sometimes wire-framed, and of large
hoops, was also stiff and formal in manners at set balls and
assemblages. The dances of that day among the politer class were
minuets, and some times country dances; among the lower order
hipsesaw was every thing.
As soon as the wigs were abandoned and the natural hair was
cherished, it became the mode to dress it by plaiting it, by queu-
ing and clubbing, or by wearing it in a black silk sack or bag,
adorned with a large black rose.
In time, the powder, with which wigs and the natural hair had
been severally adorned, was run into disrepute only about 28 to
30 years ago, by the then strange innovation of "Brutus heads ;"
not only then discarding the long cherished powder and perfume and
tortured frizzle-work, but also literally becoming " Round heads,"
by cropping off all the pendant graces of ties, bobs, clubs, queus, &c !
The hardy beaux who first encountered public opinion by appea-
ring abroad unpowdered and cropt, had many starers. The old
men for a time obstinately persisted in adherence to the old regime,
but death thinned their ranks, and use and prevalence of numbers at
length gave countenance to modern usage.
Another aged gentlemen, colonel M. states, of the recollections
of his youth, that young men of the highest fashion wore swords&emdash;
so frequent it was as to excite no surprise when seen. Men as old
as forty so arrayed themselves. They wore also gold laced cocked
hats, and similar lace on their scarlet vests. Their coat-skirts
were stiffened with wire or buckram and lapt each other at the
lower end in walking. In that day no man wore drawers, but
their breeches (so called unreservedly then) were lined in winter,
and were tightly fitted.
From various reminiscents we glean, that laced ruffles, depending
over the hand, was a mark of indispensable gentility. The coat
and breeches were generally desirable of the same material&emdash;of
"broad cloth" for winter, and of silk camlet for summer. No
kind of cotton fabrics were then in use or known; hose were there-
fore of thread or silk in summer, and of fine worsted in winter;
shoes were square-toed and were often " double channelled." To
these succeeded sharp toes as peaked as possible. When wigs were
universally worn, grey wigs were powdered, and for that purpose
sent in a paper box frequently to the barber to be dressed on his
block-head. But " brown wigs," so called, were exempted from
me white disguise. Coats of red cloth, even by boys, were consid-
erably worn, and plush breeches and plush vests of various
colours, shining and slipping, were in common use. Everlast-
ing, made of worsted, was a fabric of great use for breeches and
sometimes for vests. The vest had great depending pocket flaps,
and the breeches were very short above the stride, because the art
of suspending them by suspenders were unknown. It was then
the test of a well formed man, that he could by his natural form
readily keep his breeches above his hips, and his stockings, with
out gartering, above the calf of the leg. With the queus belonged-
frizled side locks, and toutpies formed of the natural hair, or, in
defect of a long tie, a splice was added to it. Such was the gene-
ral passion for the longest possible whip of hair, that sailors and
boat men, to make it grow, used to tie theirs in eel skins to aid its
growth. Nothing like surtouts were known; but they had coat-
ing or cloth great coats, or blue cloth and brown camlet cloaks,
with green baize lining to the latter. In the time of the American
war, many of the American officers introduced the use of Dutch
blankets for great coats. The sailors in the olden time used to
wear hats of glazed leather or of woollen thrumbs, called chapeaus,
closely woven and looking like a rough knap; and their " small
clothes,"as we would say now, were immense wide petticoat-breech-
es, wide open at the knees, and no longer. About 70 years ago
our working men in the country wore the same, having no fal-
ling flaps but slits in front; they were so full and free in girth, that
they ordinarily changed the rear to the front when the seat became
prematurely worn out In sailors and common people, big silver
broaches in the bosom were displayed, and long quartered shoes
with extreme big buckles on the extreme front.
Gentlemen in the olden time used to carry muffees in winter.
lt was in effect a little woollen muff of various colours, just big
enough to admit both hands, and long enough to screen the wrists
which were then more exposed than now; for they then wore short
sleeves to their coats purposely to display their fine linen and
plaited shirt sleeves, with their gold buttons and sometimes laced
ruffles. The sleeve cuffs were very wide, and hung down depressed
with leads in them.
In the summer season, men very often wore calico morning-
gowns at all times of the day and abroad in the streets. A dnmamask
banyan was much the same thing by another name. Poor labour-
ing men wore ticklenberg linen for shirts, and striped ticken breeches;
they wore grey duroy-coats in winter; men and boys always wore
leather breeches. Leather aprons were used by all tradesmen and
Some of the peculiarities of the female dress was to the follow-
ing effect, to wit: Ancient ladies are still alive who have told me
that they often had their hair tortured for four hours at a sitting
in getting the proper crisped curls of a hair curler. Some who
desired to be inimitably captivating, not knowing they could be
sure of professional services where so many hours were occupied
upon one gay head, have actually had the operation performed
the day before it was required, then have slept all night in a sit-
ting posture to prevent the derangement of their frizle and curls !
This is a real fact, and we could, if questioned, name cases. They
were, of course, rare occurrences, proceeding from some extra occa-
sions, when there were several to serve, and but few such refined
hair dressers in the place.
This formidable head-work was succeeded by rollers over which
the hair was combed above the forehead. These again were super-
seded by cushions and artificial curled work, which could be sent
out to the barber's block, like a wig, to be dressed, leavinig the
lady at home to pursue other objects thus producing a grand re-
formation in the economy of time, and an exemption too from for-
mer durance vile. The dress of the day was not captivating to all,
as the following lines may show, viz.
Give Chioe a bushel of horse-hair and wool,
Of paste and pomatum a pound,
Ten yards of gay ribbon to deck her sweet skull,
And gauze to encompass it round.
Let her flags fly behind for a yard at the least,
Let her curls meet just under her chin,
Let these curls be supported, to keep up the jest,
With an hundred- instead of one pin.
Let her gown be tuck'd up to the hip on each side,
Shoes too high for to walk or to jump,
And to deck the sweet creature complete for a bride
Let the cork cutter make her a rump.
Thus finish'd in taste, while on Chloe you gaze,
You may take the dear charmer for life,
But never undress her&emdash;for, out of her stays,
You'll find you have lost half your wife !
When the ladies first began to lay off their cumbrous hoops they
supplied their place with successive succedaneums, such as these,
to wit: First came bishops -a thing stuffed or padded with horse
hair; then succeeded a smaller affair under the name of cue de
Paris, also padded with horse hair ! How it abates our admiration
to contemplate the lovely sex as bearing a roll of horse hair under
their garments! Next they supplied their place with silk or cali-
manco, or russell thickly quilted and inlaid with wool, made into
petticoats; then these were supplanted by a substitute of half a
dozen of petticoats. No wonder such ladies needed fans in a sultry
summer, and at a time when parasols wore unknown, to keep off
the solar rays ! I knew a lady going to a gala party who had so
large a hoop that when she sat in the chaise she so filled it up, that
the person who drove it (it had no top) stood up behind the box
and directed the reins !
Some of those ancient belles, who thus sweltered under the weight
of six petticoats, have lived now to see their posterity, not long
since, go so thin and transparent, a la Francaise, especially when
between the beholder and a declining sun, as to make a modest
eye sometimes instinctively avert its gaze !
Among some other articles of female wear we may name the
following, to wit: Once they wore a " skimmer hat," made of a
fabric which shone like silver tinsel; it was of a very small flat
crown and big brim, not unlike the present Leghorn flats. Another
hat, not unlike it in shape, was made of woven horse hair, wove in
flowers, and called " horse-hair bonnets,"&emdash;an article which might
be again usefully introduced for children's wear as an enduring
hat for long service. I have seen what was called a bath-bonnet,
made of black satin, and so constructed to lay in folds that it
could be set upon like a chapeau bras,&emdash;a good article now for
travelling ladies! "The mush-mellon" bonnet, used before the
Revolution, had numerous whale-bone stiffeners in the crown, set
at an inch apart in parallel lines and presenting ridges to the eye,
between the bones. The next bonnet was the " whale-bone bonnet,"
having only the bones in the front as stiffeners. " A calash bonnet"
was always formed of green silk; it was worn abroad, covering
the head, but when in rooms it could fall back in folds like the
springs of a calash or gig top: to keep it up over the head it was
drawn up by a cord always held in the hand of the wearer. The
" wagon bonnet," always of black silk, was an article exclusively
in use among the Friends, was deemed to look, on the head, not
unlike the top of the Jersey wagons, and having a pendent piece
of like silk hanging from the bonnet and covering the shoulders.
The only straw wear was that called the " straw beehive bonnet,"
worn generally by old people.
The ladies once wore " hollow breasted stays," which were ex-
ploded as injurious to the health. Then came the use of straight
stays. Even little girls wore such stays. At one time the gowns
worn had no fronts; the design was to display a finely quilted
Marseilles, silk or satin petticoat, and a worked stomacher on the
waist. In other dresses a white apron was the mode; all wore
large pockets under their gowns. Among the caps was the "queen's
night cap,"&emdash;the same always worn by Lady Washington. The
"cushion head dress" was of gauze stiffened out in cylindrical
form with white spiral wire. The border of the cap was called
A lady of my acquaintance thus describes the recollections of
her early days preceding the war of Independence. Dress was
discriminative and appropriate, both as regarded the season and
the character of the wearer. Ladies never wore the same dresses
at work and on visits; they sat at home, or went out in the morn-
ing, in chints; brocades, satins and mantuas were reserved for
evening or dinner parties. Robes or negligees, as they were
called, were always worn in full dress. Muslins were not worn
at all. Little Misses at a dancing-school ball (for these were al-
most the only feates that fell to their share in the days of discrimi
nation) were dressed in frocks of lawn or cambric. Worsted
was then thought dress enough for common days.
As a universal fact, it may be remarked that no other colour
than black was ever made for ladies bonnets when formed of silk
or satin. Fancy colours were unknown, and white bonnets of silk
fabric had never been seen. The first innovation remembered, was
the bringing in of blue bonnets.
The time was, when the plainest women among the Friends
(now so averse to fancy colours) wore their coloured silk aprons,
say, of green, blue, &c. This was at a time when the gay wore
white aprons. In time white aprons were disused by the gentry,
and then the Friends left off their coloured ones and used the
white ! The same old ladies, among Friends whom we can remem-
ber as wearers of the white aprons, wore also large white beaver
hats, with scarcely the sign of a crown, and which was indeed con-
fined to the head by silk cords tied under the chin. Eight dollars
would buy such a hat, when beaver fur was more plentiful. They
lasted such ladies almost a whole life of wear. They showed no fur.
Very decent women went abroad and to churches with check
aprons. I have seen those, who kept their coach in my time to
bear them to church, who told me they went on foot with a check
apron to the Arch street Presbyterian meeting in their youth.
Then all hired women wore short-gowns and petticoats of domestic
fabric, and could be instantly known as such whenever seen abroad.
In the former days it was not uncommon to see aged persons
with large silver buttons to their coats and vests&emdash;it was a mark
of wealth. Some had the initials of their names engraved on each
button. Sometimes they were made out of real quarter dollars,
with the coinage impression still retained,&emdash;these were used for
the coats, and the eleven-penny-bits for vests and breeches. My
father wore an entire suit decorated with conch-shell buttons,
An aged gentleman O. J. Esq. told me of seeing one of the most
respectable gentlemen going to the ball room in Lodge alley in an
entire suit of drab cloth richly laced with silver.
On the subject of wigs, I have noticed the following special facts,
to wit: They were as generally worn by genteel Friends as by
any other people. This was the more surprising as they religiously
professed to exclude all superfluities and yet nothing could have
been offered to the mind as so essentially useless.*
*The Friends have, however, a work in their library, written against perukes and
their makers, by John Mulliner.
In the year 1685, William Penn writes to his steward, James
Harrison, requesting him to allow the Governor, Lloyd, his depu-
ty, the use of his wigs in his absence.
In the year 1719, Jonathan Dickinson, a Friend, in writing to
London for his clothes, says. " I want for myself and my three
sons each a wigg&emdash;light good bobbs."
In 173O, I see a public advertisement to this effect in the Gazette,
to wit: " A good price will be given for good clean white horse-
hair, by Wilham Crassthwaite, peruke maker." Thus showing
of what materials our forefathers got their white wigs !
In 1737, the perukes of the day as then sold, were thus described,
to wit: "Tyes, bobs, majors, spencers, fox-tails and twists, together
with curls or tates (tetes) for the ladies."
In the year 1765, another peruke maker advertises prepared
hair for judges' full bottomed wigs, tyes for gentlemen of the bar
to wear over their hair, brigadiers, dress bobs, bags, cues, scratches,
cut wigs, &c. and to accommodate ladies he has tates, (tetes) towers,
&c. At same time a stay maker advertises cork stays, whale-bone
stays, jumps, and easy caushets, thin boned Misses' and ladies'
stays, and pack thread stays !
Some of the advertisements of the olden time present some curi-
ous descriptions of masquerade attire, such as these, viz:
Year 1722&emdash;Run away from the Rev. D. Magill, a servant
clothed with damask breeches and vest, black broad-cloth vest,
a broad-cloth coat, of copper colour, lined and trimmed with
black, and wearing black stockings ! Another servant is descri-
bed as wearing leather breeches and glass buttons, black stockings,
and a wig !
In l724, a run-away barber is thus dressed, viz:&emdash;wore a light
wig, a grey kersey jacket lined with blue, a light pair of drugget
breeches, black roll-up stockings, square toed shoes, a red leath-
ern apron. He had also a white vest and yellow buttons, with
red linings !
Another run-away servant is described as wearing "a light
short wig," aged 20 years; his vest white with yellow buttons and
faced with red !
A poetic effusion of a lady, of 1725, describing her paramour,
thus designates the dress which most seizes upon her admiration as
"Mine, a tall youth shall at a ball be seen
Whose legs are like the spring, all cloth'd in green:
A yellow riband ties his long cravat,
And a large knot of yellow cocks his hat !"
We have even an insight into the wardrobe of Benjamin Frank-
lin in the year 1738, caused by his advertisement for stolen
clothes, to wit: " broad-cloth breeches lined with leather, sagathee
coat lined with silk, and fine homespun linen shirts."
From one advertisement of the year 1745, I take the following
now unintelligible articles of dress-all of them presented for sale
too, even for the ladies, on Fishbourne's wharf, " back of Mrs. Fish-
bourne's dwelling," to wit: "Tandems, isinshams, nuns, bag and
gulix, (these all mean shirting) huckabacks, (a figured worsted
for women's gowns) quilted humhums, turkettees, grassetts, single
allopeens, children's stays, jumps and bodice, whalebone and iron
busks, men's new market caps, silk and worsted wove patterns for
breeches, allibanies, dickmansoy, cushloes, chuckloes, cuttanees,
crimson dannador, chain'd soosees, lemonees, byrampauts, moree,
naffermamy, saxlingham, prunelloe, barragons, druggets,
florettas!" &c. &c.
A gentleman of Cheraw, South Carolina, has now in his posses-
sion an ancient cap, worn in the colony of New Netherlands
about 150 years ago, such as may have been worn by some of the
Chieftains among the Dutch rulers set over us. The crown is of
elegant yellowish brocade, the brim of crimson silk velvet, turned
up to the crown. It is elegant even now.
In the year 1749, I met with the incidental mention of a singu-
lar over-coat, worn by captain James as a storm coat, made entire-
Iy of beaver fur, wrought together in the manner of felting hats.
I have seen two fans, used as dress fans before the Revolution
which cost eight dollars a piece. They were of ivory frame and
pictured paper. What is curious in them is, that the sticks fold
up round as a cane.
Before the Revolution no hired men or women wore any shoes so
fine as calf skin; that kind was the exclusive property of the
gentry; the servants wore coarse neats-leather. The calf skin
shoe then had a white rand of sheep skin stitched into the top edge
of the sole, which they preserved white as a dress shoe as long as
It was very common for children and working women to wear
beads made of Job's-tears, a berry of a shrub. They used them
for economy, and said it prevented several diseases.
Until the period of the Revolution, every person who wore a fur
hat had it always of entire beaver. Every apprentice, at receiving
his "freedom," received a real beaver, at a cost of six dollars.
Their every-day hats were of wool, and called felts. What were
called roram hats, being fur faced upon wool felts, came into use
directly after the peace, and excited much surprise as to the inven-
tion. Gentlemen's hats, of entire beaver, universally cost eight
The use of lace veils to ladies faces is but a modern fashion, not
of more than twenty to thirty years standing. Now they wear black,
white, and-green,&emdash;the last only lately introduced as a summer
veil. In olden time, none wore a veil but as a mark and badge
of mourning, and then, as now, of crape, in preference to lace.
Ancient ladies remembered a time in their early life, when the
ladies wore blue stockings and party-coloured clocks of very stri-
king appearance. May not that fashion, as an extreme ton of the
upper circle in life, explain the adoption of the term, " Blue stock-
ing Club?" I have seen with Samuel Coates, Esq. the wedding
silk stockings of his grandmother, of a lively green and great red
clocks. My grandmother wore in winter very fine worsted green
stockings with a gay clock surmounted with a bunch of tulips.
The late President, Thomas Jefferson, when in Philadelphia, on
his first mission abroad, was dressed in the garb of his day after
this manner, to wit: He wore a long waisted white cloth coat,
scarlet breeches and vest, a cocked hat, shoes and buckles, and
white silk hose.
When President Hancock first came to Philadelphia as president
of the first Congress, he wore a scarlet coat and cocked hat with a
Even spectacles, permanently useful as they are, have been sub-
jected to the caprice of fashion. Now they are occasionally seen
of gold&emdash;a thing I never saw in my youth; neither did I ever see
one young man with spectacles&emdash;now so numerous ! A purblind or
half-sighted youth then deemed it his positive disparagement to be
so regarded. Such would have rather run against a street post six
times a day, than have been seen with them ! Indeed, in early olden
time they had not the art of using temple spectacles. Old Mrs.
Shoemaker, who died in 1825 at the age of 95, said that she had
lived many years in Philadelphia before she ever saw temple spec-
tacles&emdash;a name then given as a new discovery, but now so common
as to have lost its distinctive character. In her early years the
only spectacles she ever saw were called "bridge spectacles,"
without any side supporters, and held on the nose solely by nipping
the bridge of the nose.
My grandmother wore a black velvet mask in winter with a
silver mouth-piece to keep it on, by retaining it in the mouth. I
have been told that green ones have been used in summer for some
few ladies, for riding in the sun on horseback.
Ladies formerly wore cloaks as their chief over-coats; they
were used with some changes of form under the successive names
of roquelaus, capuchins, and cardinals.
In Mrs. Shoemaker's time, above named, they had no knowledge
of umbrellas to keep off rain, but she had seen some few use kiti-
sols-an article as small as present parasols now. They were en-
tirey to keep off rain from ladies. They were of oiled muslin, and
were of various colours from India by way of England. They must,
however,have been but rare, as they never appear in any
Doctor Chanceller and the Rev. Mr. Duche were the first per-
sons in Philadelphia who were ever seen to wear umbrellas to keep
off the rain. They were of oiled linen, very coarse and clumsy,
with ratan sticks. Before their time, some doctors and ministers
used an oiled linen cape hooked round their shoulders, looking not
unlike the big coat-capes now in use, and then called a roquelaue.
It was only used for severe storms.
About the year 1771, the first efforts were made in Philadelphia
to introduce the use of umbrellas in summer as a defence from the
sun. They were then scouted in the public Gazettes as a ridicu-
lous effeminacy. On the other hand, the physicians recommended
them to keep off vertigoes, epilepsies, sore eyes, fevers, &c. Finally,
as the doctors were their chief patrons, Doctor Chanceller and
Doctor Morgan, with the Rev. Parson Duche, were the first per-
sons who had the hardihood to be so singular as to wear umbrellas
in sun-shine. Mr. Bingham, when he returned from the West
Indies, where he had amassed a great fortune in the Revolution,
appeared abroad in the streets attended by a mulatto boy bearing
But his example did not take, and he desisted from its use.
In the old time, shagreen-cased watches, of turtle shell and
pinchbeck, were the earliest kind seen; but watches of any kind
were much more rare then. When they began to come into
use, they were so far deemed a matter of pride and show, that men
are living who have heard public Friends express their concern at
seeing their youth in the show of watches or watch chains. It was
so rare to find watches in common use that it was quite an annoy-
ance at the watch makers to be so repeatedly called on by street-
passengers for the hour of the day. Mr. Duffield, therefore, first
set up an out-door clock to give the time of day to people in the
street. Gold chains would have been a wonder then; silver and
steel chains and seals were the mode, and regarded good enough.
The best gentlemen of the country were content with silver watches,
although gold ones were occasionally used. Gold watches for la-
dies was a rare occurrence, and when worn were kept without
display for domestic use.
The men of former days never saw such things as our
Mahomedan whiskers on Christian men.
The use of boots have come in since the war of Independence;
they were first with black tops, after the military, strapped up in
union with the knee bands, afterwards bright tops were intro-
duced. The leggings to these latter were made of buckskin, for
some extreme beaux, for the sake of close fitting a well turned leg.
It having been the object of these pages to notice the change of
fashions in the habiliments of men and women from the olden to
the modern time, it may be necessary to say, that no attempt has
been made to note the quick succession of modern changes, pre-
cisely because they are too rapid and evanescent for any useful
record. The subject, however, leads me to the general remark,
that the general character of our dress is always ill adapted to our
climate; and this fact arises from our national predilection as
English. As English colonists we early introduced the modes of
our British ancestors. They derived their notions of dress from
France; and we, even now, take all annual fashions from the ton
of England,&emdash;a circumstance which leads us into many unseason-
able and injurious imitations, very ill adapted to either our hotter
or colder climate. Here we have the extremes of heat and cold.
There they are moderate. The loose and light habits of the East,
or of southern Europe, would be better adapted to the ardour of
our mid-summers; and the close and warm apparel of the north of
Europe might furnish us better examples for our severe winters.
But in these matters (while enduring the profuse sweating of
90 degrees of heat) we fashion after the modes of England, which
are adapted to a climate of but 70 degrees ! Instead, therefore, of
the broad slouched hat of southern Europe, we have the narrow
brim, a stiff stock or starched-buckram collar for the neck, a coat
so close and tight as if glued to our skins, and boots so closely
set over our insteps and ancles, as if over the lasts on which they
were made ! Our ladies have as many ill adapted dresses and hats,
and sadly their healths are impaired in our rigorous winters, by
their thin stuff-shoes and transparent and light draperies,
affording but slight defence for tender frames against the cold.
The above text was digitally photographed one fragile page at a time. The images were then enhanced and
processed through OCR software to create the text.
Special thanks to my wife Karen whose patience in checking that the text matched the volume
and fixing what the computer could not figure out, was greatly appreciated.
And special thanks to my good friend Mr. Norman Brauer
for the loan of the volume and the ability to use his library's resources.
Made on a MAC