18cNewEnglandLife
Clothing & Accoutrements


Breeches
By Henry Cooke

The breeches were made with a full or half fall which should fit smooth across the front. In the 1760's and into the 1770's the waistband was placed so as to ride on the hip bones, but during the 1770's and into the 1780's the waist rose to, or slightly above, the natural waist. The fit should be close in the leg and easy in the seat to permit sitting or squatting. The bottom of the breeches should come down underneath the kneecap, but no lower than the flat at the top of the shinbone. Breeches frequently matched the color and materials of the coat, though black breeches seem to have been fashionable during this period.

When choosing fabric to have breeches made consider who you are representing. If you are looking to represent the laboring class choose hard working fabrics. Wool fabric is a good choice for April. If this will be your only pair for a while you might consider heavier weight linen, Russian drilling or hemp linen (sold by The Najecki's), or cotton for a more year-round fabric. The buttons would have been fabric-covered buttons, wood, bone or pewter. The kneebands of the working class were often closed with a drawstring pulled through a casing and tied instead of a kneeband and button or buckle. Knee buckles should be reserved for a more upper class impersonation.

Often referred to in period references are leather breeches. These would be a long lasting garment worn by the working class. It is difficult today to find someone willing to make them, as they do require a working knowledge of leather to obtain a good and lasting fit.

 


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