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« 19th Cenutry Working Men--Dressing the Part | Main | Presenting the Character of a Victorian Gentleman »

19th Century Working Men--Where to get the stuff

Some men are talented tailors. Other men have talented women who are willing to make costumes for them. Others have neither advantage--but fortunately, if all you need to do is dress up like a ranch hand, farmer, ditch digger, railroad worker or what ever, you can get all sorts of historically correct, moderately priced and well made stuff "off the rack" with nothing more than a credit card (with money, all things are possible).

As I observed in my previous post on the subject, all you absolutely need are trousers, a shirt, a hat and some shoes. Other stuff, like vests, coats, bandannas, etc. are nice to have, but you can strut confidently through any living history farm with just the essentials.

One reason this stuff is so easy to come by is the happy accident that the armies of the American CIvil War used common civilian patterns for things like trousers, and the soldiers of the time fequently supplemented government issue with stuff from home or stuff liberated from local homes or clothes lines. So, since there is a thriving industry in place to supply the exacting needs of the Civil War re-enactor, it is there for you.

If you are dressed as a Confederate soldier, in butternut trousers, a gray shell jacket, a checked shirt, brogans and a slouch hat (a typical look), you need only set aside the jacket and you could just as easily be a farmer from the 1850s up until the early 20th Century. However, if you are an offier or an NCO and your trouser legs have stripes on them--oh well.

As far as uniform stuff goes, the Rebel gray and butternut make the best civiliian trousers, while the Yankee dark blue trousers also do well (all provided they are without stripes). The light blue Union Army trousers do kind of say "Army Surplus". This isn't really a show stopper though. Civil War leftover stuff was all over the place in post Civil War America, to include trousers, hats and belts (Eagle plate belts especially).

So, if you want to buy your whole kit "off the rack" attend a Civil War re-enactment with credit card in hand, or go to one of the following websites. These companies offer both military and civilian stuff.

This is a VERY abbreviated list. There are hundreds of such dealers out there, of varying quality. My listing them here is a half-hearted endorsement, as I offer no guarentees. If you have a problem with them, don't come whining to me. Life is tough.

River Junction Trading Company (specializes in civilian)

Pair o'Dice Mercentile

Fall Creek Sutlery

C & D Jarnagan