Did you laugh at the title of this post? I kind of did too when I wrote it. But stay tuned, I may just blow your mind: I dreamt up this post fully intending to 1) find some super fun “pilgrim” inspired buckle shoes, coats, and dresses for the modern girl, and 2) write about how black and white Pilgrim dress reflected the Puritanical standards of the culture. But lo and behold, and surprise surprise — this was not so!
Believe it or not, the black and white dress that we so often conjure up when we talk about Pilgrims was actually not as common as we think. After hunting around online for info about Pilgrim dress, I found out that black clothing was considered extra special, and since many people often had their portraits painted in their best clothes, that’s why you’ll so often see 17th century Pilgrims in all black and white garb. However, it was not easy to dye cloth such a dark color, and even more difficult to make the color last through washings, which meant black clothes were really only for special occasions. Instead, everyday clothes featured a whole spectrum of colors, from brown, to dark red, yellow, and blue. If cloth was not dyed, it was typically gray or white (the natural color). Beyond portraiture, most people would don their black clothing on Sunday — their true “Sunday best”.
Also blowing my mind: that buckles were not really in fashion at the time of the Pilgrims’ arrival to the American continent, and they were also hideously expensive. Good ol’ laces were used to tie shoes, since they were much more affordable (buckles wouldn’t come into fashion in England until much later, as their price meant they were considered a big fashion and wealth statement).
So, how to do a blog roundup of Pilgrim-inspired items that doesn’t predominantly focus on black and white clothing with large, wide collars and items with buckles? You can’t. Because that’s called modern clothing everywhere. So I hope you’ll forgive me for perpetuating the stereotype, but below are a few of my favorite “Pilgrim” style finds. Isn’t this a great Thanksgiving small talk factoid?
Image and Post Credits: Top image by Daphne Groenfeld for Style.com; runway image within graphic by Karmen Pedaru for Style.com. Info on Pilgrim dress found here and here, with more reading available here.