Between Poldark, Outlander, Turn: Washington’s Spies, Sons of Liberty and the BBC miniseries Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, the colonial period is everywhere these days. And while we love the romance and epic storylines told through the eyes of soldiers, servants and time travelers, we’re becoming more than a little obsessed with the period clothing that keeps gracing our screens. Hooped petticoats, stays, waistcoats and three-cornered hats—what’s not to love about the clothing of the late 1700s?
With the Fourth of July only days away, it seems appropriate to honor that Revolutionary War style we can’t get enough of. So here are three modern outfits inspired by traditional Colonial clothes:
Gingham fabric will always have an old-fashioned feel, especially in a dress that’s cut similarly to the styles of Colonial times. But feel free to show a little more skin, with short sleeves and no neckerchiefs tucked modestly into this bodice. A hair scarf will give you a retro vibe without actually forcing you to don a frilly cap, and bright teal touches give this Revolutionary inspired outfit a modern twist.
If bustles and giant skirts aren’t really your thing, then take some clues from the menswear of the time. Breeches and white billowy shirts are emulated here in olive joggers and a draping blouse. A modern version of the buckle shoe helps pull the outfit together, and a leather cross-body bag is both practical and a nod to Revolutionary uniforms.
Daring Daughter of the Revolution:
To truly update your Colonial look, try mixing menswear and traditional feminine silhouettes. This fitted waistcoat is reflective of the times and a daring fashion statement, especially when paired with a full, patterned skirt. Add flirty buckle heels and a statement necklace to be both Revolutionary-appropriate and quirky cute.
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart & Susan North (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2009)
To learn even more about the clothing of the time period, pick up Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Fashion in Detail. This collection of historical facts and photographs dives deep into the minute fashions of two fascinating centuries. From ornate European dresses to homespun Colonial shirts, this guide explores the styles, the details, and the techniques that helped create such beautiful clothes.