The Rappahannock Colonial Heritage Society welcomes you and invites you to join us on a journey into the 18th century. RCHS allows you to decide your own level of commitment to this journey; you may just attend meetings or programs, and/or participate by “dressing out” at our events.

If you choose to participate by dressing out, you need to understand that we do have a required standard of attire. We assist you in this process by providing you with information as to where period appropriate clothes, patterns, fabric, shoes, eyewear, etc. may be obtained. Our group has several experienced seamstresses who can help you get started creating your attire.

Also to help you understand the “ladyes” clothing of the period we require all those participating by dressing out to read “Whatever Shall I Wear,” a booklet by historical clothing researcher Mara Riley. This booklet is available on Amazon. We also have a copy you may borrow from our library. (There is no similar book for the gents, but we have a handouts for ladies and gentlemen with basic wardrobe information.) After reading this booklet, you will be assigned a Mentor from the Attire Committee.

Next we recommend that you do your research into who you want to be (your 18th c. persona) and what class (lower sort/middling/gentry) you want to portray** before you make/purchase clothing. We suggest that you start off with a simpler outfit rather than an expensive, complicated one. As a matter of course, all new participants are requested to start out with the basic clothes of the “lower sorts."

There are ready-made clothes available for purchase from various 18th century sutlers/merchants and catalogs. We advise you ask your Mentor before placing an order or purchasing anything. Just because a merchant is selling it (or re-enactor is wearing it), doesn’t make it period correct.

Again, we welcome you and hope you enjoy your journey back in time. Don’t forget to visit our website for updates and information about RCHS.

**Please keep in mind that RCHS seeks to people the 18th century town of Fredericksburg and the area; we urge you to research these people and their professions for your persona.

RCHS Standards of Attire for Children and Adults

All Natural Fabrics
Wool, linen, cotton and silk, blends of these materials or acceptable satin substitute. NO obvious polyester materials, zippers, Velcro that is visible, etc., and as much as possible the period correct prints and fabric colors. Please do the research.

Style/Design of Clothes
Appropriate to the time period of the day and the time of day. The time period RCHS covers is 1760-1820. The time period depends on the particular event we are participating in.

Hairstyle or Wig
Appropriate to the time period of the day and the time of day. The time period RCHS covers is 1760-1820. The time period depends on the particular event we are participating in.

Appropriate to the time period being portrayed. Examples for 1770s: men’s cocked hats, ladies ‘round eared’ caps, ladies flat or low crown brimmed straw or wool felt hat.

Appropriate to the time period being portrayed. They can be 21st century shoes converted to 18thC /19thC with buckles and/or ribbons. No 21st century shoes such as sneakers, Dockers, etc.

Gloves or Mitts
Worn by men, women and children when suitable.

The “natural” look please if you are wearing 21st century makeup. Mascara, blush, lipstick are acceptable if worn in an “unassuming manner.” Make up was worn in the 18thC but make sure what you wear is appropriate for who you are portraying and what you are portraying. Do your research first.

Nail Polish
Nail polish is not appropriate. If you have to wear polish make sure to keep your hands covered with gloves.

Make sure that it is appropriate to your persona/station and also to the time of day (morning/evening).

Appropriate “Dress of the Day”
This is very important. Our manner of dress (dress style, hair, hat, etc) portrays whatever time period we are doing that day, and that the style of dress be correct for the time of day, whether daytime or evening.

If you are unsure of your fabric, hat, hairstyle, etc. check with someone who has been designated before the day of the performance/event. When we are doing a function for ourselves our manner of clothing is not that important. When we are in the public eye “on stage” we need to be the best personification of the 18th century that we can possibly be.





Last updated on February 25, 2018.

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