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Posted: Aug 20 2014, 11:25 AM
Fashions of the 1800s
In the early 1800s American style varied quite a bit from the frilly European fashions of the time. While Europeans tended to lean towards Jane Austen, Americans made their own style which is singularly different. The clothing was much simpler and able to adapt to the American climate quickly. The following is a simple explanation of the clothing.
In general, men were dressed very well. They tended to have a jacket, vest, and long pant ensemble that were usually in black. The cravat at this time would soon evolve into a bow tie, which was being tried out among the younger more “dandy” men. Now the style for the working man tended to be quite different than those with money. The hat was obviously the signature piece, a cowboy hat makes the man after all. Usually made out of leather, this was fit perfectly to a man’s head. A shirt, coat, trousers, and sometimes vest would top off the rest of a man’s outfit. It wasn’t unusual to see leather chaps as well, since most of these men were riding horses day in and day out.
Always the more difficult topic, women’s clothing on the frontier is a classic. The layers are important. Flounces, lace, ribbons, and bows were extremely popular. Waistlines were dropping and the skirts were becoming more full. These created the lovely bell shape that so many women wanted, and were usually made out of either whale bone or steel rods. To keep that lovely shape, some women are still wearing corsets to make their waist even tinier. Many though have done away with that old tradition, and merely have very tight fitting bodices. A woman has to work after all!