2007 - January Hive

10 Things to Improve Your Kit, “What Not to Wear”, Runaway Fashions, Shifts, Market Wallets

10 Easy Things to Improve Your Battle Road Kit
...and a couple of less easy things

For Men

  1. Use a neck cloth
  2. Forget about those horizontally striped stockings—there's no documentation for them
  3. Remove any medals or unit pins from your hat or coat
  4. Cover your buttons with fabric
  5. Save the haversack for military interpretations & use a market wallet or snap sack to carry your things. You can also put things in your coat pockets—that's what they're there for!—another reason to wear a coat or jacket!!
  6. Lose the accessories in the hat—one or two folks might have stuck a pipe in their hat, but there are far too many out there
  7. Remove the ostrich feathers from your hat unless you are doing an upper class interpretation
  8. Overcast your machine-made button holes with hand stitches
  9. Use farmer’s Half Boots made from black wool to hide inaccurate shoes.
  10. Use a razor! Beards were not fashionable in the 18th century. If you can’t part with that beard that you’ve had since high school, consider trimming it to the stubble stage—it will grow back!
  11. While you have the razor out, consider trimming your sideburns.
  12. Consider making a checked linen shirt, or unbleached linen shirt instead of a plain white one when interpreting the lower sort—and save the ruffles for an upper class impression
  13. Feeling prosperous? Have your waistcoats fitted to the point of being snug all around. This garment should serve to provide shape & support for men of middling & upper classes. If you are concerned about too tight a waistcoat, consider opening the back seam and installing linen tape ties or eyelets with stay lacing cord (they are laced up like a pair of stays, and are eyeletted accordingly)
  14. Tailor your breeches—they should fit well thru the leg and not be too long
  15. Consider a queue ($25–$30)
  16. Try contacts or period frames (for those who wear glasses)
  17. Use period documentation for developing and honing your impression

For Women

  1. Change out of the square silk & hand hem a triangle handkerchief
  2. Use real silk ribbon in your cap & around your neck
  3. Switch drawstring waistbands to tape waistbands on your petticoats
  4. Leave the haversack to the soldiers—consider making a workbag to carry sewing projects and/or snacks for the event
  5. Choose lightweight wools instead of linen for clothing—wool was much more common and can be worn year round if it’s light enough
  6. Take the flowers and feathers off your straw hat and decorate it with a simple ribbon
  7. Wear two petticoats rather than one
  8. Avoid matching and color coordinating, in a modern way, all your outer garments to each other.
  9. Style/dress hair under cap to avoid “Q-tip head” (head swallowed by cap) or “bang hanging down” look to the cap.
  10. Cut and resew shift neckline to eliminate “throat swallowing”
  11. If you don’t have stays or jumps, wear a masher kind of sports bra under your short gown or bed gown
  12. Get rid of the printed petticoat (or wear it as your inner petticoat rather than your top one). Use a solid or balanced stripe if you want a pattern
  13. Shorten your shift sleeves to just past the elbow and finish with cuff or, if sleeves are narrow enough, optionally plain hem. Preferably omit ruffle entirely, or at least make it no deeper than 1" and only one layer rather than doubled; ditto ruffle around neck (preferably remove/omit, or at least make narrow and single layer)
  14. Make a bonnet
  15. Make a pair of mitts
  16. Replace 17c style cap or 19c style cap or early 18c style cap or post-RevWar 18c style cap with F&I-to-RevWar style cap. Made of white linen, no heavier than 3.5 oz linen
  17. Lose the modern jewelry and nail polish
  18. Use a runaway ad for inspiration on honing your impression

“What Not to Wear”

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Fashions of the Local Runaways

Newmarket, Chester County, NH

WAS stolen, on the December 23. 1781-2 from Abraham Emmit's House By one MARY NOWLAND; her age I know not but she is old sold her hair of gray and black to the puke maker, face of putty, red hands well worn and short of height, her teeth are good. She worked helping in the laundry and may be heading to Exeter to relatives, had on a Wooster gown of brown, a white flannel petticoat, a brown changeable silk quilt, cap of fine linen and a black silk bonnett, old Green wool cloak and old red woolen mitts, shoes low and black, took with her, One laundry stick and an old rag, One good linen sheet marked Mary Minor, One white linen apron striped brown, One cream woolen petticoat, One pr white stockings with clocking, One worked pocket market NG, One small woolen pocketbook with red birds and flowers on front flame on back lined in linen, Pr pink silk mitts, One gold necklace with pearl fob, One gold Necklace, One mans gold watch, Pair of spectacles, One mans shirt, Newborn white linen shirt with lace cuffs, white Marcella shirt with lace cuffs, Dipper pattern blanket, Flannel clot, quilted Flannel robe, Linen Cap, Red pudding cap. Girls Frock Pink stripped with flowers has leading strings, linen shift and blue check stays. Whoever takes her up, don't fail To lay her fast in any jail; They will be as a friend regarded, And, as above, shall be rewarded. Who brings her home I will give them it.

Your humble servant, ABRAHAM EMMIT

Fled from his Master in Holliston, a servant Francis Chamberlain, had on a collarless Jacket of drab stuff with mariner's cuffs, buff woolen breeches, red Check'd linsey shirt and farmer's half boots. The small toe of each foot has been frozen off. He has a cheery disposition and is a great and easy liar. Stole and brought away with him, out of his master's shop, a number of pewter Candlesticks, plates, spoons, tools, etc., which he may carry in a large wallet. If any shall catch him up and hold him, shall receive 5 pounds reward for the servant and 10 for the stolen Goods.

Lancaster Goal, July 28, 1775.

THIS day were committed to my custody, as suspicious persons, a certain Nancy Kean, as she calls herself; she is a short thick woman,has black hair, and a fair complexion; had a dark green cloth gown with a white Marseilles petticoat, a black checked apron, and a green silk bonnet; she has a young child sucking at her breast, about ten weeks old, and has with her a daughter with a saucy manner. She pretends that she means to join her husband, a soldier with the 10th Regiment, at the siege of Charles Town.

Deserted, Christopher Anderson, an Irishman, between 35 and 50 Years of Age, a lusty well made man, tall and robust, of a ruddy complexion. He is a slovenly fellow, much addicted to Liquor. Had on, when he deserted, a blue canvas jacket, brown check'd waistcoat, Russia trowsers, buckle shoes, a silk Handkerchief, and an old felt hat; he carried with him a hunting bag and horn. I will give four dollars to any person who will secure him. As Desertion is become but too common, it is to be hoped that every Friend and Wellwisher to the Cause will exert himself in bringing such Offenders to Justice, and thereby timely suppress an Evil, which if not discouraged, must be attended with the worst of Consequences.

John R. Davies, Lieutenant. January 3, 1777


Ran away from Braintree early January, a Servant Man name MATHIAS. Took with him a Document Box Containing Pen and Ink. 6 feet high, pale wearing his natural hair, as it remains, short. Of solid build with good hands. Known to be illiterate but well spoken, with some words in the French Idiom, said Runaway may pose as a School Master or Fine Joiner.

Had on when he went away worn shoes with paired steel buckles, old yarn stockings, once white, much worn shirt. May be wearing new green linen breeches and vest with bright buttons and wine coloured linings, all under a linnen coat, green-brown, of old cut and battered hat. The breeches have fine metal knee buckles.

I will give Forty Schillings for Him and Box or one quarter for box and contents alone restored to Subscriber. Viz. Reverend Ebenezer Thayer, First Parish, Braintree.



Went away from the Subscriber in Braintree on New Years Day, with property, a Servant Girl, answering to the name of ELEANOR. A quick faced girl of stout stature 5 feet high with a willful and scattered temperament. She took with her two pewter spoons of great Sentimental Value. Was wearing a white linen shift mended at the shoulder, blue stays, much worn, linen petticoats yellow and gray, yellow linen bed gown, brown apron and stockings, ruffled linen cap. It is unlikely she will change clothes. Whoever takes up and secures said servant so that she may be restored to her master shall have the above reward and necessary changes. Ten Shillings will be given for the return of the spoons.

Edmund Soper, Merchant, of Braintree.

Ninth Month 25th, 1774.


RUN away from the subscriber on the 21st of December last, a hearty Irish servant woman, named CATHERINE WATERSON, about 40 years of age, she is thick and fat, of a forward Conduct, and talks loud and coarse; has had four or five Children, and has left two behind her. She has very long black hair, which she wore either clubbed behind, or platted, and rolled round her head, wears no cap, and old burn marks by her wrists which she may try to disguise. She stole and took with her, a large silver spoon, no otherways marked, than with the maker's name, C. HALL, near the bowl, a worsted knit pincushion, with a silver band, gold wire for her ears, five pairs, with colored stones; had on, and took with her, a pink linen petticoat, a bed gown striped with pale green, check apron, two coarse shifts, with uncommonly wide necks or bosoms, worn purple bonnet, new shoes, thread stockings, and an Indian basket. She being examined, said the spoon was given to her by her grandmother, and that her father is lately dead, and she was going to see her mother, and such like stuff. Whoever secures said servant, so that her master may have her again, shall have the above reward, paid by JAMES GIBBONS, Innkeeper.

Boston Goal, Sept. 17, 1765.

WAS committed to this goal the 3d of September, a boy, who calls himself NICHOLAS KELLY, on suspicion of being a runaway apprentice, about 12 years of age but very poorly grown, brown hair tied sometimes; had on a blue striped smock, old buff linen breeches, and old shoes, and a gray worsted cap. Carried with him a fine white broadcloath waistcoat and a green cloath coat, much taken in; also a sack with numerous articles, viz., shoe buckles, a new linen shirt, a good felt hat, 1 woolen petticoat, part made up, and several pairs men's hose. His master, if any he has, is hereby desired to come, prove his property, pay charges, and take him away, otherwise he will be discharged in three weeks from the date hereof, on paying his fees.


Run away from the Subscriber, in Concord, a middle aged Convict Servant Woman named Susan Fells, stout made, with a swarthy Complexion and a sour temper, has dark hair. She had on a dark striped linnen bed gown, a coarse brownish linnen petticoat, an old-fashioned cap of which she has the habit to wear with the ends turned up, and a red Silk Handkerchief around her Neck. She was seen heading down the South road, and has a brother in or near the city of New York, named Lee, to which place it is likely she may go. Whoever takes up said servant, and secures her in any gaol, so that her master may have her again, shall receive Fifteen Shillings reward, and reasonable charges, paid by Michael Bright. July 29, 1773