Getting dressed in the 18th-century style clothing that our Loyalist ancestors would have worn is a meaningful experience. It helps to relate to what it would have been like to "be in their shoes", and it's fun to attend events with others dressed in "Loyalist attire". It is also a great way to attract and interest people in Loyalists and our United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada.
Having said that, where do you start? You can’t go to your local Walmart and get 18th century clothing, and "Halloween costumes" seem a bit of a cheap joke.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Familiarize yourself with 18th century clothing so you know what is or is not appropriate. Not everything you see advertised as "18th century" really is. Not all patterns are authentic. No sources say exactly the same thing about what and how clothing was worn then but, just as today, there would have been location, status and personal differences in clothing.
This link from Colonial Williamsburg is an interactive page for learning about both men’s and women’s clothing of all different classes. Again, clothing changed throughout the 18th century and this is just good basic information. There are many good videos on YouTube as well.
2. Check out Sandy’s Etsy site (ReflectionsThruTime) to see the few items left from the Loyalist Clothing our group was selling as a fundraiser. These could be brought to a meeting for you to try on. It is also possible that a few more items will be available on this site as time goes by.
You can also go to Etsy.com and search “18th century clothing”, or “18th century ____ (waistcoat or more specific item you are looking for)". These shops may make to order or have pre-made items available. Unfortunately, you will not have the opportunity to try on before you buy.
3. There are other websites to purchase clothing from, such as:
Burnley and Trowbridge
...and many more!
These are great sites for getting many things but remember some clothing items will not be tailored specifically for you and may not fit exactly as desired.
4. If you have looked at these options and decide want to choose your own fabric, pattern etc. and have it tailored with YOU in mind, my family has made up a booklet with “Sewing Suggestions for 18th Century Clothing” in which we list the patterns we have made, how we have gone about finding the patterns, fabric, accessories, etc. -- OUR take on being realistically accurate, and other web sites that we have purchased supplies from. It can certainly be challenging to sew or expensive to have sewn for you, but it certainly adds to the experience.
If you are interested in more information on 18th Century Clothing, such as websites to learn or shop from, clothing, dressing and hair videos on YouTube, our "Sewing Suggestion" booklet, or any other information, please feel free to contact Sandy at curt[hyphen]sandy[at]hotmail[dot]com. We are not experts, but have spent a lot of time researching and are willing to share!