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Why Dress Like a Pioneer?

For a printable copy of this article, including suggested clothing charts, click Why Dress Like a Pioneer.

During the mid-19th century, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dressed very much like their non-LDS counterparts. Their lives, too, were very much like any other life of similar location and livelihood.  Their personal tests and trials may have been different from our own today, but there are many similarities, and much we can learn from their tragedies and triumphs, and most particularly, from their faith.

Dressing in historic clothing is one way to form an immediate connection to the past. When we take on their clothing, we get a better feel for the physical conditions of their lives. We step outside our own known world, and enter theirs, for just awhile, setting aside our daily worries and distractions. We can have some wonderful “time travel” moments, when it feels as though the veil is very thin, and our pioneer friends are standing right beside us, encouraging us in our personal journeys.

Not everyone wants to play pretend to the same degree of immersion, however. This dressing plan allows for multiple stages of historic clothing, from the basic flavor of the past, to a fully authentic wardrobe. By setting an expectation of participation at the basic level or above, a variety of personal preferences and budgets can be accommodated without compromising the “time travel” moments of those who prefer a more immersive experience.

Safety Notes

  • All young and adult men must pull up trousers and use suspenders or a belt to keep them in place! Sagging crutch seams and hanging hems are a safety hazard, as you cannot move freely and quickly in overly-baggy clothing.
  • 100% Natural Fibers (wool, cotton, linen, silk) are vital for safety at all levels! Man-made fibers melt when exposed to high heat or flame. Natural fibers pose less danger around campfires, lanterns, and candles. Stop, Drop, and Roll is a skill you may need.

General Notes

  • Girls wear full-skirted dresses hemmed between lower calf and a hand-span above the ankle bones. Women wear full-skirted dresses hemmed between just above the ankle bones and the top of the foot. Any female under 18 years is a girl in this era, not an adult woman.
  •  Regardless of how far you choose to take your authenticity, stay safe: bring modern, unscented sport sunblock, and re-apply it at  least every three hours to the face, ears, neck, upper chest, hands, and forearms.

Basic Look: A Historic Flavor
Young and adult women will need

  • Sunbonnet
  • Full-gathered (100″ to 150″) skirt, non-elastic waist, hemmed to lower calf or upper ankle
  • Solid color long-sleeve buttoning shirt

Young and adult men will need

  • Cap or wide-brimmed straw hat
  • Denim or khaki pants (long)
  • Solid color or plaid long-sleeve buttoning shirt

Everyone will need

  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes or boots
  • White, tan, or black cotton or wool stockings
  • White, tan, or print neckerchief (cotton or linen)

Basic Plus: Increased Accuracy and Comfort
Young and adult women will need

  • Historic pattern one-piece dress in cotton print or plaid, or wool
  • 1-2 full-gathered white cotton petticoats
  • 1 apron, half or pinner style
  • Sunbonnet
  • Full-gathered (100″ to 150″) skirt, non-elastic waist, hemmed to lower calf or upper ankle
  • Solid color long-sleeve buttoning shirt

Young and adult men will need

  • Historic pattern trousers
  • Historic pattern shirt
  • Cap or wide-brimmed straw hat

Everyone will need

  • Comfortable black or brown leather boots
  • White, tan, or black cotton or wool stockings
  • White, tan, or print neckerchief (cotton or linen)

Stepped from the Past: Duplicate Historic Clothing
Young and adult women will need

  • Historic pattern undergarments: chemise, calf-length white drawers, stays or corset, corded petticoat
  • Historic pattern one-piece dress in cotton print or plaid, or wool
  • 1-2 full-gathered white cotton petticoats
  • 1 apron, half or pinner style
  • Sunbonnet
  • Full-gathered (100″ to 150″) skirt, non-elastic waist, hemmed to lower calf or upper ankle
  • Solid color long-sleeve buttoning shirt

Young and adult men will need

  • Historic pattern undershirt, underdrawers
  • Historic pattern trousers
  • Historic pattern shirt
  • Historic pattern wool sack or frock coat and vest
  • Cap or wide-brimmed straw hat

Everyone will need

  • Comfortable black or brown leather boots
  • White, tan, or black cotton or wool stockings
  • White, tan, or print neckerchief (cotton or linen)

 

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