Let Us Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday. The word evokes images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and, of course, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians, the acknowledged founders of the feast. But what did they wear to such an occasion? Read on to find out…

Most of us have the idea that the Pilgrims’ clothing was    quite simple, mostly black and white, with white collars,  silver buckles on the hat, belt and shoes. This is a   common myth.

From the passenger list of the Mayflower, we know that the Pilgrims were familiar with colored clothing, such as blue, green, violet, yellow and red. While in Holland, just before they set sail, they knew about clothing dyes (taken from plants and roots), that were used to produce color for every day clothing. The colors were not bold or bright, but they were muted shades of blues, greens, violets, yellows and reds.

Pilgrim women wore petticoats, dresses with bodice and skirt, aprons, capes for coats and low-heeled round-toed shoes. These came in the variety of colors. Pilgrim men wore undergarments, breeches, shirts with turn back cuffs and wrist ruffles, stockings, belts, capes, and low-heeled round-toes leather boots or shoes.

Even though historically, Pilgrims wore colorful clothing, nothing is as iconic for the holiday to modern-day Americans as the black and white, buckled outfits that are perfect for reenactments. See our wonderful selection of pilgrim costumes here: http://www.spookshop.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=pilgrim&Submit=


This is a more accurate depiction of the Fist Thanksgiving. Notice the various pastel colors and heavy layered fabrics. They also didn’t wear buckles on their shoes or wastes. Buckles were expensive and not in fashion at the time. They simply wore the much cheaper leather laces to tie up their shoes and hold up their pants.


Wampanoag Clothing

You have probably seen many inaccurate pictures of Native People in books and movies. In the 1600s, the basic Wampanoag clothing for men, older boys, young girls and women was the breechcloth. Breechcloths were made from soft deerskin and worn between the legs with each end tucked under a belt and hanging down as flaps in the front and back. Men and women wore mantles in cold weather.

The mantles, often made of deerskin, fastened at one shoulder and wrapped around the body in various ways. Often, mantles were tied at the waist with a woven belt. During especially cold weather, mantles of raccoon, otter, beaver, and other animals were worn with the fur side closest to the body.

Women and girls often wore skirts made from deerskin. A woman wrapped a skirt around her waist and tied it with a thin belt. Skirts could be worn under mantles. Leggings were worn in cooler weather or to protect from the scratches of brambles and brush. Women’s leggings were made of deerskin and were tied at the knee, while men’s leggings were longer and tied at the waist to the breechcloth belt.

In the 1600s, Wampanoag men and women decorated their bodies. Faces were painted with red or yellow ocher, black from charcoal and graphite, or white from clay. Sources often write about the beautiful ornaments of the Wampanoag People. Men, women and children wore bracelets made from shell or glass trade beads. Earrings, necklaces, garters, belts and breastplates were made from various materials such as bone, copper, wood, shells and stone. Tattooing was reported by Europeans, who saw it on the faces and bodies of some 17th-century Wampanoag People. These were usually very important people in the Nation.

Dressing up for Thanksgiving is not traditional for many people but however you choose to celebrate, costumes can make any holiday more fun & festive for children and adults alike. Schools and community centers often put on plays for Thanksgiving, which can require a costume. Whatever the reason you are dressing up, there many costume choices that would be perfect for Thanksgiving.


See our festive selection of costumes & accessories here: http://www.spookshop.com/Thanksgiving_Pilgrim_Costumes_s/455.htm

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