Missouri Bicentennial Minutes: What Missourians Wore in 1821 - Upper Class

Apr 22, 2021

Welcome to the Missouri Bicentennial Minute from the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Clothing worn by Missourians in 1821 depended on economic status. Missouri statehood occurred in the late Regency period. Upper and middle-class women’s dresses had high waistlines, with skirts flared at the sides and fullness gathered at the back, and sleeves puffed at the shoulder. Dresses might feature hemlines padded with cotton or wool and elaborately decorated sleeves. Day wear had high necklines and long sleeves, contrasting with open necklines and shorter sleeves for evening wear. Ladies might wear a pelisse-robe, a coat-dress, for walking. Soft slippers and varied types of headwear completed women’s wear. Silks and cottons were favored fabrics.

Fashionable men wore shirts of linen or cotton with tall standing collars and wide, usually white, cravats tied in a loose bow. Waistcoats, or vests, worn under a coat or frock coat, were buttoned high on the chest. Wool or velvet coats, cut straight across the waist in front, had long, narrow, pointed tails. Dark green or dark blue were preferred, and coats were often double-breasted. Trousers or pantaloons fell below the ankle, and pantaloons featured a strap that went under the foot. Tall silk or beaver top hats completed a man’s clothing. Men wore leather or rubber shoes, often styled as narrow, heelless slippers, or tall boots.

Infants wore white cotton gowns, later short clothing, then dresses over trousers. Boys wore a “skeleton suit” until about age 7, which was high-waisted trousers buttoned to a jacket with a white frilled collar. Clothing of older boys was similar to that of men. Girls wore dresses similar to those of women, except with a short hem length over trousers. The hem gradually lengthened for older girls.