What did poor men/woman wear in the 1800's?
Also what did the poor children wear ?
- Diapason45Lv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
It depends if you mean poor or destitute.
The poor bought second-hand clothes from special dealers in every town in the western world. We forget now that used clothes had real value to a large proportion of the population; poor people would go to market stalls or back-stores to pore over massive collections of old used clothes. In London, Paris, Rome, New York it was big business and some millionaire families started by running that trade.
Richer and even just middle class families would have a clear-out every year, when their clothes got past repair or too dirty to clean any more [this was before detergents, don't forget], or heavily lice-infested. The poor got their clothes from that trade.
The destitute, who had no money whatsoever, got complete cast-offs from the ordinary poor. They were not really clothes at all: just rags with clothing shapes. Mark Twain describes such people and their clothes in various of his books: see Huckleberry Finn.
Poor children wore the cast-off clothes of their parents and hand-downs from older siblings or cousins. Even within the 20th century, some of us can remember not wearing our own clothes until we were 14 or 15 years old. Everything had been "pre-worn" by other children or young people in the family, or sometimes by neighbours who didn't have younger boys, say, only younger girls.
The children of destitute parents wore nothing until they were 6 or 7 years of age. In the records of the poor in England, in cities and the countryside, there are accounts of hundreds of children wearing just a blanket or a collection of rags held together on their bodies by string.
Mothers and daughters in those times learned to alter and repair clothes of all kinds. It wasn't just a hobby. It was an essential feature of family life, to keep everyone clothed as best they could.
Is this helpful?
- Bob MLv 61 decade ago
A fabric made from linen and wool called, appropriately, "linsey-woolsey" was the fabric of choice for garments of the less well-off.
The significant thing was that most poor people only had one or perhaps two changes of clothes and wore them until they were filthy and ragged.
Like today, they wore castoff garments from their better-off neighbors. These were patched and worn until they were ragged or beyond patching.
Some of the movies today correctly portray the characters as they would have lived in the 1800's, wearing the same clothes repeatedly. A garment was a tremendous investment on a salary of two or three dollars a week, so there really wasn't much choice.
When I was growing up, the rule was to wear what you had, but always be clean. That was more important that having better clothes. Of course, I didn't live in the 1800's but poverty was still a factor.
- 4 years ago
Photos of clothing worn by poor men/women in the mid 1800's
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- 1 decade ago
sack clothSource(s): pure brains