A British Redcoat costume makes for a great costume for a Halloween party, reenactment or class presentation. The costume is so distinct and iconic of the American Revolution that it is easily recognizable as a Revolutionary War costume.
Britain first adopted its iconic Redcoat uniform in 1660 and they continued to wear them well into the 19th century. The redcoats were designed to make the soldiers more visible on the smoky battlefield so generals could identify and organize their soldiers more efficiently.
The downside of these bright red coats is it also made them more visible to the enemy as well. The bright redcoat earned the soldiers many nicknames during the American Revolution including “lobster backs” and “bloody backs.”
British soldiers during the Revolutionary War wore uniforms that consisted of the iconic red coat with either blue, buff, sea green or green facings, depending on the regiment the soldier was in. These soldiers also wore white or off-white breeches, white vests, black boots and a black hat that varied by style, depending on the regiment.
According to the book Redcoat: The British Soldiers in the Age of Horse and Musket, the 1st royal regiment wore blue facings, the 2nd queens wore sea green facings, the 3rd queens wore buff facings and were called The Buffs, and the 66th wore green facings.
Most British infantrymen wore a black felt tricorne hat laced with white but fusiliers, grenadiers, drummers and pioneers wore an embroidered mitre cap or bearskin cap. The redcoats were also decorated with lace, piping and buttons. Two white belts made an x across the soldiers chest. One belt held a bayonet and the other a cartridge box.
There seems to be far fewer British redcoat costumes available for sale than all the other types of Revolutionary War costumes. I guess this is not that surprising seeing they were technically the bad guys in the American Revolution but it does make your options a bit limited.
I only found two costumes for kids that closely fit the description of the British Redcoat uniform. The first is this Redcoat child costume by California Costumes on Amazon.
The costume is made out of polyester and comes with a long red jacket with buttons and black facings and an attached off-white vest. It also comes with a white belt that goes across the chest, black boot toppers and a cravat. The tricorne hat and wig are sold separately and the sword and shoes are not included. The costume almost matches the uniforms worn by the 66th regiment perfectly except that the facings are black instead of dark green. Other than that the costume is spot on. The costume is not available in adult sizes.
The second is this British Redcoat child costume on HeritageCostumes.com.
The costume is made out of polyester and comes with a redcoat with buttons and navy blue facings, a vest and attached dickey, lace jabot, white breeches and lace cuffs. This costume matches the uniform worn by the 1st Royal regiment exactly, right down to the blue facings and the decorative lace. The costume is made in the USA. The only downside is that it costs twice as much as the costume on Amazon. Heritage Costumes are overall the most authentic historical costumes but they come with a higher price tag as a result.
The Redcoat costume for adults that most closely resembles the British Redcoat uniform is this British Redcoat adult costume by Forum Novelties on Amazon.
The costume is made out of a polyester and cotton blend and comes with a redcoat with gold metal buttons, buff-colored facings, breeches and vest. It is not clear if the cravat and wig come with the costume or are sold separately. My guess is that they are sold separately. The costume matches the uniform worn by the 3rd Queen’s regiment, which had a redcoat with buff-colored facings, almost perfectly except it doesn’t come with a hat and doesn’t have a white belt across the chest.
Another authentic-looking Redcoat costume I found is this British Redcoat adult costume by International Costumes on Amazon.
The jacket is made out of polyester and the rest of the costume is a polyester and cotton blend. The costume comes with a redcoat with metal buttons and blue facings, a white vest and breeches, a white lace trimmed colonial jabot with matching cuffs. The tricorne hat, black boot spats, wig and sword are not included. With its blue facings, the costume matches the uniform of the 1st Royal regiment perfectly.
To complete your British Redcoat costume you’ll need accessories such as this combination Colonial child wig and hat by Forum Novelties on Amazon. The wig and hat are made out of polyester and the hat is about 3 inches high and 14 inches wide. One size fits most children. There is also a Colonial adult wig and hat by the Jacobson Hat Company on Amazon. The hat is about 15 inches wide and is made out of canvas with steel wires underneath to hold its shape. One size fits most adults.
(Disclaimer: purchases made through the links in this article help support Historyofmassachusetts.org)
Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket; Richard Holmes; 2001
The American Revolution; Lisa Frederiksen Bohannon; 2004
American Revolution 100: The Battles, People, and Events of the American War; Michael Lanning; 2008
National Park Service: Just the Essentials: Clothing and Equipment of Revolutionary War Soldiers: https://www.nps.gov/mima/learn/education/upload/essentials.pdf