Ladies' Clothing 1860-1867

1860’s Dress

  • Mourning Society 1860’s costume events require what is referred to as a day dress or walking costume. This would be appropriate attire for attending a funeral, making a call or visiting the cemetery. Occasionally there will be positions that would allow simpler clothing worn by household servants or a nurse.  Click here for dress examples 
  • You are not required to be dressed in mourning clothing for every event. See the Mourning Society – Stages of Mourning Guide for more information.
  • Ideally your dress should be made from materials that were available during the era: wool, linen, cotton and silk. Cotton dresses should be a print rather than a solid color.
  • Collars and Cuffs - These usually basted onto the dress and removed for laundering. 1860’s collars are narrow fabric or crocheted.


  • What you wear under your dress can make a huge difference in the appearance and authenticity of your period clothing. Corsets were worn to smooth out and shape the body into the figure that was popular during the mid-nineteenth century and cotton undergarments, which were much easier to launder, provided an absorbent barrier between the body and the heavily tailored garments of that period. For examples of these garments click here 
  • Chemise (required) - This is a loose-fitting, shirt like undergarment similar to a short night dress.
  • Corset (required) - 1860’s versions of this famous garment created an hourglass like figure. You should purchase your corset first and have your dress tailored to fit while wearing it.
  • Under Hoop Petticoat - A full underskirt for warmth and modesty. Knitted or quilted petticoats were worn during the winter.
  • Cage Crinoline or Hoop Skirt (required) - A skirt with a wire framework. Can be round or oval-shaped
  • Over Hoop Petticoats - (required) a petticoat layer over the hoop keeps the framework of the cage from showing through your dress and gives it a draped appearance.
  • Drawers - Most drawers for women in the mid-1800s were split leggings and about knee length. Each leg was finished separately and joined together at the waistband only, leaving the crotch seam open, but crafted so there was a bit of an overlap. They usually had a drawstring at the waist and tied or buttoned at the center back, but sometimes in the front.
  • Stockings (required) - Period appropriate stockings are made from cotton or silk and would require garters, but any modern stocking will suffice.

Outerwear and Other Accessories

  • Shoes - While walking outdoors a lady would usually have worn square toed boots, but for our purposes you may wear black or brown flats. Depending on your position you may be standing and walking quite a bit so please make sure to wear something comfortable.
  • Era appropriate hairnets – If you would like to wear a hair net please be aware that 19th century hairnets were worn over styled hair; they were made with very fine silk thread and matched the color of the ladies hair. The colorful crocheted snoods that you sometimes see are actually from the 1940’s.
  • Bonnets - are usually made of straw or silk and trimmed with silk flowers and ribbon. Ladies did wear hats during this era but they would be worn for summer outings and other outdoor activities. They are not appropriate as funeral attire.
  • Shawls - should be either woven fabric, crocheted or simple knit designs out of non-synthetic fibers.
  • Parasols - can be used during warm sunny days. In the 1860’s they were made of solid fabric and trimmed with lace or fringe.
  • Fans - can be used to keep you cool during warm weather. Try to stick with paper or silk fans without a lot of feathers or embellishment for everyday use.
  • Bags - Reticules (basically a fancy drawstring purse) or a small covered basket can be used to carry your car keys, phone, and other personal belongings.
  • Gloves – Should be worn outdoors or in church. Gloves should be black, grey or brown although they are sometimes seen in other colors like green or lavender. White gloves are usually worn to balls and other special occasions. Thread-weight mesh gloves or mitts can be worn by older ladies.
  • For examples of these items click here