How to Make Colonial Costumes at Home

Written by lottie goff
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How to Make Colonial Costumes at Home
You can make a colonial costume at home using items that may already be in your closet. (woman in colonial williamsburg image by Jorge Moro from

Dressing in a colonial costume doesn't require purchasing a pre-made costume. Most of the items colonial Americans wore every day are items of clothing that many of us still have in our wardrobes. You can find basic pieces of a colonial outfit in your own closet, and then make the costume look more authentic with colonial-style accessories, such as a leather vest, plain leather shoes and a bonnet or hat.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • White dress shirt, for men or women
  • Solid, striped or checkered floor-length cotton skirt for women
  • White apron, for women
  • Straw hat or white fabric and string, for women
  • Solid trousers, for men
  • Brown leather or cotton vest, for men
  • Handkerchief or cloth swatch
  • Plain leather shoes or boots
  • Straw hat or fabric to make a cap

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    Women's Costume

  1. 1

    Find a plain, white dress shirt that doesn't have any logos or fancy buttons on it. Put it on and roll up the sleeves to the elbow.

  2. 2

    Choose a long cotton skirt that is floor length or nearly that long. Pick a skirt that is full and either in a solid, dark colour or plaid, checkered or striped.

  3. 3

    Tie a plain, white apron around your waist.

  4. 4

    Tie a handkerchief or swatch of fabric around your neck. These were worn to prevent sunburn in colonial times.

  5. 5

    Place a straw hat on your head or make a white bonnet. To do this, take a circle of white fabric and tie it to your head using a white string. Put on plain leather shoes that lace up or lace-up boots.

    Men's Costume

  1. 1

    Put on a long-sleeved white dress shirt. Choose a shirt that doesn't have any logos on it. Make sure the shirt is slightly wrinkled to give it an authentic look.

  2. 2

    Pick out a pair of trousers that are solid-coloured in brown, navy or black. Do not wear jeans. These trousers should also be slightly wrinkled.

  3. 3

    Find a cotton or leather vest that is brown or blue. This will help make your costume look authentic.

  4. 4

    Tie plain fabric around your neck as a handkerchief.

  5. 5

    Put on brown leather boots or lace-up shoes. Add a straw or felt hat on your head.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have time, you can remove the buttons of the white shirt and sew on brown wooden buttons.

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