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was completely worn out. Patching and turning were evidences of thrift and economy.
Apprentices, indentured servants, and negroes in y the North dressed in much the same way as did their
“betters” but in clothes of poorer quality and cut, often made over from the discarded garments of their masters. In the South, what were called "plains" were imported in large quantities for the negroes, those in the house wearing blue jacket and breeches and those in the field generally white. Frequently the negroes worked with almost nothing on, and Josiah Quincy narrates how he was rowed over Hobcaw Ferry, in South Carolina, by six negroes, "four of whom had nothing on but their kind of breeches, scarce sufficient for covering.”. When a servant or negro ran away, he put on everything that he had or could steal, and such a fugitive must have been a grotesque sight. One runaway servant is described as wearing a gray rabbit-skin hat with a clasp to it, a periwig of bright brown hair, a close serge coat, breeches of a brownish color, worsted stockings, and woodenheeled shoes. One apprentice ran away wearing an old brown drugget coat and a pair of leather breeches and carrying in addition two ozenbrig
Quincy, Southern Journal, 1773.
shirts and two pairs of trousers of the same material. An escaped negro was advertised as dressed in shirt, jacket, and breeches, woolen stockings, old shoes, and an old hat, and wearing a silver jewel in one of his ears. Earrings or bobs in one or both ears were frequent negro adornments.
The steady advance toward more ornate and picturesque dress which began to be evident in colonial life was due to closer contact with the West Indies and the Old World. The Puritans had begun as early as 1675 to protest against the follies of dress. Roger Wolcott of Connecticut, in his memoir written in 1759, speaks with regret of early times in the colony and bewails the loss of the simplicity and honesty which the people had when he was a boy. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, he says, “their buildings were good to what they had been, but mean to what they are now; their dress and diet mean and coarse to what it is now," and their regard for the Sabbath and reverence for the magistrates far greater than in his day. To the Quaker also the growing worldliness of the times was a cause of depression and lament. Peckover, writing of his travels in 1742, though proud that the Quakers in the neighborhood of Annapolis were accounted “pretty topping people
in the world,” nevertheless regretted that they took so much liberty "in launching into finery,” and believed that some of the children went "in apparel much finer and more untruthlike than most I ever saw in England." The richer planters and merchants not only wore foreign fabrics but deliberately copied foreign fashions. Eddis, writing from Annapolis in 1771, was of the opinion that a new fashion was adopted in America even earlier than in England, and he saw very little difference "in the manner of a wealthy colonist and a wealthy Briton.”
A thousand and one articles from the great manufacturing towns of England — London, Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Torrington, and other centers — were brought in almost every ship that set sail for America. Scarcely a letter went from a Virginia planter or a Boston, New York, or Philadelphia merchant which did not contain a personal order for articles of clothing for himself or his family, and scarcely a captain sailed for England who did not carry commissions of one kind or another. The very names of the fabrics which the colonists bought show the extent of this early trade: Holland lawn, linen, duck, and blankets, German serge, Osnaburg linen, Mecklenburg silk, Barcelona silk handkerchiefs, Flanders thread, Spanish poplin, Russian lawn and sheeting, Hungarian stuff, Romal or Bombay handkerchiefs, Scottish tartans and cloths, and Irish linen.
Colonel Thomas Jones in 1726 sent in one order for four pairs of “stagg” breeches, one fine Geneva serge suit, one fine cloth suit lined with scarlet, one fine drab cloth coat and breeches, one gray cloth suit, a drugget coat and breeches, a frieze coat, and several pairs of calamanco breeches and cloth breeches with silver holes. William Beverley, at 7 different times, ordered a plain suit of very fine cloth, a summer suit of some other stuff than silk, with stocks to match, a winter riding suit, a suit of superfine unmixed broadcloth, a pair of riding breeches with silk stockings, a great riding coat, three Holland waistcoats with pockets, roundtoed pumps, a pair of half jack boots, a beaver hat without stiffening, a light colored bobwig, knit hose to wear under others, and many pairs of kid and buckskin gloves. Later, he sent back the hose, “damnifyed in the voyage,” to be dyed black and another pair that were too large in the calf, “I having but a slender body as you know by my measure." He also found fault with the
boots, remarking, “I am but slender and my leg is not short.”
For his wife Beverley ordered a suit of lutestring appropriate for a woman of forty years, a whalebone coat, a hoop coat, a sarsenet quilted coat of any color but yellow, white tabby stays, a suit of “drest night cloaths or a mob, ruffles, and handkerchief,” pairs of calamanco shoes, flowered stuff damask shoes, and silk shoes with silk heels, colored kid gloves and mittens, straw hats, thread, worsted, and pearl-colored silk hose, paduasoy ribbons, and crewels for embroidering suit patterns. For his daughter he wished a whole Holland frock, a plain lutestring coat, a genteel suit of flowered silk cloth or “whatever is fashionable," a quilted petticoat, a cheap, plain riding habit, a head-dress,
but if head-dresses were no longer fashionable then La mobcap with ribbons. For other children he
wanted calamanco or silk shoes in considerable variety, sometimes ordering fine thin black calfskins or skins of white leather to be made up into children's shoes on the plantation, hats with silver laces, colored hose, and colored gloves. Even members of the fair sex tried their own hand at foreign purchase, for we are told that Sarah Bulfinch of Boston sent five pounds sterling in silver