I recently had the opportunity to attend a fashion show of vintage clothing. This picture shows what the typical woman would have worn in the West in the 1860’s.
There are many versatile features to this outfit. The collar at the top was detachable as were the ivory colored lower sleeves. This allowed the women to swap out a dirty collar or sleeves for fresh ones without having to wash the entire dress. The detachable pagoda sleeves offered another benefit—a cool option in the heat.
The dress is actually two pieces. The top would be more what we call a blouse today, though they did not call it that. The second piece was the matching skirt.
One of the most interesting things I learned was that the aprons were not tied. Long apron ties came along at a later period. Instead, the apron was pinned to the dress. The straight pins were placed upside down to prevent catching or slipping.
The bonnet shown in this picture is an everyday outdoor bonnet. Our homestead woman would have worn this to work in the garden.
The material used for the dress, sleeves, collar, and apron was cotton. The small pattern on the dress is an example of the calico often mentioned during the time period.
For a trip to town, she would have removed the apron, perhaps changed out the collar to something with more lace, and exchanged the bonnet for a dressier one of satin and lace. She would have carried a matching parasol and her reticule (their version of a purse) probably would have been hand crocheted.
The pioneer woman’s clothing would have been a little more subdued than the large hoop skirts worn during the Civil War by women in the South and East. The hoop skirts weren’t practical for frontier living.
I hope you enjoyed this closer look at the type of clothing Hannah and Betty would have worn in Prescott Pioneers 1: A Dream Unfolding.