View Full Version : Help with son's attire

05-28-2007, 08:44 AM
My 18 year old son has decided he would like to try reenacting as a civilian. Frankly, he enjoys going to reenactments as a spectator, but he has concerns about whether or not "dressing up" would be that much fun. His concern is mainly with comfort. In real life, my son dresses only for comfort--VERY loose t-shirts, baggy pants, always has a baseball type hat on his head. He even goes to the religious services dressed like this! (Well, he does remove the baseball hat off for that occasion.) On the plus side, he has some really nice period looking sideburns. On the odd side, he has VERY long hair that he wears either in a pony tail (is it called that for males?) or one long braid. We credit the latter to the documented Native American blood that was added to our gene pool on one side of the family over several generations. LOL!

Our impression is of a merchant family that has been fairly successful so I can't dress him like a farm hand. On the other hand, if I dress him too "stiff", he will not be happy. This is my only son so all my experience in period clothing has been devoted to girls. I feel like I am in a foreign land on this subject. I need resources, suggestions, etc. I can sew simpler items, my oldest daughter can sew most anything else. We need suggestions on hats as well.

Also, my daughter already has a pattern to make him a sack coat, but she doesn't know what kind of wool would be best to use. My son really has a problem with the idea of wearing wool so we are thinking something light and not "itchy". Any suggestions?

I need advice on colors, prints, fabric. What "accessories" he will need. Will the long hair he okay? He is NOT going to cut it.

It seems like most reenactors of my son's age are into doing to the military thing so we are having a hard time finding examples as to what would be appropriate. And for anyone who is wondering why son doesn't want to be in the military, let's just say, I probably have the only kid who ever required stitches because he cut his head on a computer! You don't want him around bayonets! LOL! Seriously, he just doesn't care for the military side of reenacting.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Sarah Jane Meister
05-28-2007, 09:37 AM
Hmm. . .when my brother was into reenacting I made him a civilian set of clothing and eventually he acquired his military things to be a drummer boy (his long-time dream fulfilled). He was barely a teen but wore men's style clothing for his civilian attire, and pronounced the clothing very comfortable. He had both wool and cotton/linen trousers made loose in the seat and a little baggy around the leg, his shirts of course were fairly loose. The vest was more fitted, but does not need to be made skin-tight if he doesn't like wearing tight things. Frock coats should be particularly fitted but from my experience (with a very particular, perfectionist and difficult-to-sew-for husband) take more time to make correctly than is worth! :) Sack coats are looser and might be more to his liking and since you already have a pattern would be great to try! If he doesn't like the itchiness of wool you can line the entire coat. I also believe they were made of linen as well for summer wear but do not have the documentation for that on hand right now. One thing my brother liked (and now my husband too) is the varieties of cravat styles available in period to duplicate. They can definitely be a statement of personality and style! I got David's civilian hat from Tim Bender and was very happy with the quality and the price was excellent too, plus great, fast service!!


05-28-2007, 11:31 AM
I'm not sure how well the hair will integrate, but if it were not there, the rest is not difficult to accomodate. I'd dress him in regular trousers, shirt, mostly-fitted vest (this is pretty key for a good look, so a smooth--not tight--fit is important), and a sack-style coat, as it's more generously fitted than a frock ought to be. Add a casual hat (not a topper), and he'd be in the equivalent of "casual dress" for mid-century.

However, a long tail of hair will rather spoil any semblance of the mid-century... so if he's really not into getting the full look, I don't see a big problem with letting him spectate in totally modern clothing. He won't be out of place in the modern crowds, and he won't be having to make-do or rationalize very non-historic hair.

(Now, he *could* chop the locks to just over collar length, donate them to Locks of Love, and get a TOTALLY period look pretty easily... very nifty, too!)

There've been some good images of various modern fellows in their historic clothing shared in the Gentlemen's Clothing section here: http://www.thesewingacademy.org Jason Wickersty and Noah Briggs are two young men who do a spot-on job of "looking the era"... very nice!

05-28-2007, 05:07 PM
Eighteen year old man, nose to toes.

Hat: wheel hat, or mechanic's cap. Porkpie hat or small bowler.

Hair: If he won't cut it, then trim it, and style it. Every now and then you will come across the occasional fop. Is this bad? No, just another quirk to add interest to the character.

Coat: Plain, patterned. Stripes, checks, plaid, if you want to look like the upholstery in a 1972 Pinto. Wool, cotton, linen. Linen is not patterned.

Shirt: preferably white, but color patterned for casual works too. Avoid plaid; it's been overdone.

Collar: already with the shirt, or detachable. Detachable is cool cause you never see them.

Cravat: Recommend skinny, with a color which compliments something in -

The vest: solid color, notched collar, shawl collar, no collar. Plain color. Guess what - plain color is BORING! Here is the chance to wear crazy colors and patterns. Cotton, silk, linen, wool. fitted to the body with the adjustable strap in back.

Braces: These hold yer towsers up. Patterned, with buckles, not those ugly modern clasps.

Trowsers: Plain, patterned. Stripes, checks, plaid, if you want to look like the upholstery in a 1972 Pinto. These need to be worn UP AROUND THE NATURAL WAIST, AKA THE BELLY BUTTON. If you make the trowsers yourself, be sure to allow "plenty of room." Wool, cotton, linen.

Shoes: regular, or boots.

Socks: cotton, white

Drawers: cotton or lined. Recommended to have for the full experience, but nobody is really going to check.

Accessories: depending on what he's doing or portraying, pocketknife, pocketbook, pencil, bits of scrap paper, other "pocket trash" appropriate for his character.

Ta-da! "Dress the young man 101".

05-28-2007, 05:24 PM
Disclaimer: I have definate opinions on socks, and have even been described by some of my family as "sock obsessed."

Mr. Briggs:

I beg to differ on your note above regarding socks.

Socks (especially for a civilian) can be wool, silk, cotton, linen or a blend of any of the above.

They do not have to be limited to white, though many like white socks. They can be as plain as you want (white, gray, black, brown, blue) or as vibrant as your imagination. Canary yellow, purple with gold stripes, peacock blue, etc., etc. Young men, then as now, often dressed to make a style statement. One of my friends' children has a T-shirt that says "I'm wearing this outfit because I know it annoys you."

Victorians believed in "beauty through contrast" sometimes to an extent far beyond what our modern color sense can tolerate.

Just encouraging a bit of sock-related color diversity,

Hopping down off the soap box,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Period Knittins --Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Come see me (and the socks) at September Storm
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

05-30-2007, 08:01 PM
Thanks for the help. So far he has found a hat he likes and we will be ordering soon. And I found that he considers the shoes I would have picked for him to be "fruity" so we will be going with a boring black pair. <sigh> Girls are sooo much more fun to dress! Still researching the long hair. It certainly wasn't common, but definitely not unheard of. We have found some period photos of long haired males. I guess there have always been people who marched out of time to their own drum.

About the cravat--can this thing be worn loosely? He is concerned about being choked. As a toddler he got "stuck" in a t-shirt with a tight neck and it scared him. To this day turtlenecks and ties freak him out! And yes, it is a long standing family joke! LOL!