Revolutionary War Costumes

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A Revolutionary War costume is a perfect costume for reenactments, class projects, a Halloween party or even just for play time.

There are a number of different types of Revolutionary War costumes to choose from such as a Revolutionary War Soldier costume, a British Redcoat costume, a Deborah Sampson costume, a Women’s Colonial costume, a Founding Father costume or even a Minuteman costume. The following list includes costumes for men and women as well as for kids:

Revolutionary War Soldier Costume

One of the most popular historical costume is the Revolutionary War soldier costume. Revolutionary War uniforms prior to 1779 varied greatly but starting in 1779, George Washington ordered that uniforms for soldiers in the Continental Army consist of blue coats, white vests and facings of varying colors. Each state regiment in the Continental army had different colors for the linings and facings.

Washington ordered New England regiments to have white facings, middle state regiments to have red facings and southern regiments to have light blue facings. The waistcoats, breeches and long sleeve linen shirts worn with the uniforms were either white or an off-white or beige color. The soldiers also wore tricorne hats, stockings and black or dark shoes with buckles.

Uniforms and weapons of the Continental Army, lithograph by Henry Alexander Ogden

Uniforms and weapons of the Continental Army, lithograph by Henry Alexander Ogden

Although there isn’t a costume that matches the New England regiment’s uniform perfectly, there is this Patriot Boy costume by Costume Culture, which is close. The costume has a blue coat with gold-colored facings, an attached gold-colored vest with gold metal buttons, gold epaulettes and a blue sash. It comes with brown pants, separate boot tops and a hat. The costume is made out of 100% polyester and also comes in adult sizes. Many of the customer reviews say that the costume does come with a small felt hat but doesn’t come with the hat pictured.

This costume isn’t a perfect match for the New England regiment’s uniforms because the facings are gold-colored instead of white but it is quite close to the look of the original uniform.

Patriot boy costume by Culture Costume

Patriot boy costume by Culture Costume

I also recommend this costume for girls or women who want to wear a Deborah Sampson soldier costume. Sampson was a woman from Plymouth, Mass who disguised herself as a man and joined the Revolutionary War as a soldier around the year 1781. Since she served in a New England regiment, she wore a uniform with a blue coat with white facings but, as there aren’t any costumes like that for sale, this is the next best thing.

For a uniform for the middle states, there is this American Patriot child costume by California Costumes on Amazon. The costume has a blue coat with red facings, gold-colored buttons, a beige attached vest, beige breeches, a white sash and cravat and two black boot toppers. The colonial wig and tricorne hat are sold separately. The costume is made out of polyester. The sword and shoes are not included. There are similar versions of this costume for adults on amazon but they cost hundreds of dollars for some reason and for that price you could just buy an authentic reproduction jacket on ebay.

American Patriot Child Costume by California Costumes

American Patriot Child Costume by California Costumes

There, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be any costumes of the southern regiment’s uniforms.

British Redcoat Costume

Another popular Revolutionary War costume is the British Redcoat costume. If you like playing the bad guy, this is the costume for you. British soldiers during the Revolutionary War wore uniforms that consisted of a red coat with either blue, buff, sea green or green facings, depending on the regiment the soldier was in, as well as white vests and white or off-white breeches with black boots and a black hat that varied by style, which also depended on the regiment.

A redcoat uniform worn by a British soldier in the American Revolution on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, photographed by Matthew G. Bisanz in 2009

A redcoat uniform worn by a British soldier in the American Revolution on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, photographed by Matthew G. Bisanz in 2009

The bright red coat was designed to help make the solder more visible on the often smoky battlefield so they were less likely to shoot each other accidentally and so British officers could identify and organize them more easily in the midst of a battle.

The costume I found that most closely resembles this is this British Redcoat child costume by California Costumes on Amazon. This costume does not seem to be available in adult sizes. The costume has a red coat with black facings and gold-colored buttons, an attached beige vest and breeches in a slightly darker shade of beige, a white sash and cravat and black boot toppers. The tricorne hat and wig are sold separately. The shoes and sword are not included. The costume is made out of polyester. This costume doesn’t match the British redcoat uniform perfectly because the facings are black and the vest and breeches are beige instead of white but it is quite similar otherwise.

British Redcoat Child Costume by California Costumes

British Redcoat Child Costume by California Costumes

Women’s Revolutionary War Costume

For girls or women, a great Revolutionary War costume would be either the Deborah Sampson costume I mentioned earlier or a women’s or girl’s 18th century colonial costume, which would make a great Martha Washington or Betsy Ross costume.

Colonial women and girls during the American Revolution wore white or light-colored fabric caps, called mop caps, and gowns with a bodice and skirt. The gowns, which were called robes, were either closed or open. A closed robe had a bodice and skirt that were not open in the front and therefore didn’t need a separate layer worn underneath. An open robe had either an open bodice or open skirt or both. The open skirt required a petticoat underneath and the open bodice required something called a stomacher, a piece of stiff fabric worn underneath of the bodice. To be held place, the stomacher was either pinned or laced with ribbons.

The costume I found that most closely fits this description was this Patriot Colonial girl costume by California Costumes on Amazon. The costume has a colonial-era dress with an open bodice that laces over with ribbon. The dress also has an attached apron and comes with a white mop cap and a 13 star American flag. The costume is made out of polyester and is also available in adult sizes.

Patriot Colonial Girl Costume by California Costumes

Patriot Colonial Girl Costume by California Costumes

Founding Father Costume

Another great Revolutionary Costume is a Founding Father costume. The founding fathers were the men of the thirteen British colonies who helped organize and lead the American Revolution. You have several costume options if you want to go this route, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are two of the most recognizable costumes out of this group of men so I will focus on those two:

General George Washington Costume

There probably isn’t a single Revolutionary War figure more iconic than General George Washington. To dress up like George Washington you’ll need a Revolutionary War general costume.

There are a number of famous paintings of George Washington to base your costume on. Some of the most well known paintings of Washington are of him in his uniform. In these paintings, Washington is depicted as wearing a blue coat with gold-colored facings, vest, epaulettes and breeches and a black tricorne hat and black boots as well as a powdered wig.

George Washington, standing portrait, artist unknown

George Washington, standing portrait, artist unknown

I found a few costumes that closely resemble this iconic image of George Washington. The costume that most closely matches this is this George Washington adult costume by Fun Costumes on Amazon.

The costume has a blue coat with gold-colored facings, vest, breeches, epaulettes, black boots and a black tricorne hat. It’s actually a perfect match for the uniform Washington wore in the paintings. The product description doesn’t say what the costume is made out of but my guess would be it’s polyester. The only downside to this costume is that it doesn’t come in a size for children.

George Washington costume by Fun Costumes

George Washington costume by Fun Costumes

Another great George Washington costume that does come in children’s sizes is this Deluxe George Washington child costume by Rubie’s on Amazon. The costume has a blue coat with beige facings, vest, breeches and black tricorne hat. The colonial wig is not included. It does not appear to come with any boot covers. The costume isn’t a perfect match because the facings, breeches and vest are beige instead of gold-colored but it is quite close and is still recognizable as a George Washington costume.

George Washington child costume by Rubie's

George Washington child costume by Rubie’s

Benjamin Franklin Costume

Another great Revolutionary War costume is a Benjamin Franklin costume. Benjamin Franklin was a statesman and inventor who was sent to France to help raise funds for the American Revolution and later helped draft the Declaration of Independence. As a result of his work, he has since become an icon of the American Revolution.

To dress up like Benjamin Franklin you’ll need an 18th century men’s colonial costume and a wig. There are a number of paintings of Benjamin Franklin to base your costume on. Franklin is often famously depicted as wearing a brown suit with a matching vest and a white cravat.

Painting of Benjamin Franklin, standing on the left, by Pedro Americo, circa 19th century

Painting of Benjamin Franklin, standing left, by Pedro Americo, circa 19th century

The costume that I found that most closely resembles this is this Benjamin Franklin child costume by California Costumes on Amazon. The costume comes with a brown coat, a light brown attached vest, black breeches, and a white cravat. The costume is made of polyester. The Benjamin Franklin wig is sold separately. This costume is not available in adult sizes.

Benjamin Franklin child costume by California Costumes

Benjamin Franklin child costume by California Costumes

PAUL REVERE COSTUME

Paul Revere is another iconic figure from the American Revolution that would make for a great costume. Revere is best known for aiding the rebels when he took his famous midnight ride in 1775 to alert the minutemen that the British troops were marching towards Concord.

To dress up like Paul Revere you’ll need a men’s colonial costume. There are many images and paintings of Revere to base your costume on. The most famous of these are the illustrations depicting his famous midnight ride. In these illustrations Revere is often depicted as wearing a blue or dark-colored coat, beige breeches with a matching vest, a black tricorne hat and either black boots or black shoes.

Paul Revere's Ride, postcard, circa 1910

Paul Revere’s Ride, postcard, circa 1910

The costume that I found that most closely resembles this image is this Paul Revere child costume by California Costumes on Amazon. The costume has a blue coat with an attached beige vest, beige breeches, a black hat, shoe buckles and a cravat. The costume is made out of polyester and is not available in adult sizes. This costume matches the clothing Revere wore in the illustrations almost perfectly.

Paul Revere Costume by California Costumes

Paul Revere Costume by California Costumes

Minuteman Costume

Minutemen were citizen soldiers that fought during the early part of the Revolutionary War. Since the Americans didn’t have an official army until the Continental Army was created in June of 1775, civilian men served as volunteer soldiers who were called up at a moments notice, hence the name minutemen. Since they weren’t official soldiers they didn’t have uniforms and just wore their regular clothing. As a result, they were nicknamed “shirtmen” because of the hunting shirts colonial men wore at the time.

To get a minuteman costume you’ll need a men’s colonial costume. Colonial men at the time wore breeches, which were pants that came down to the knee. They also wore a linen hunting shirt and woolen stockings (which were provided by the militia), a waistcoat, a cravat (which was piece of fabric worn at the neck that was tucked into the shirt at the neckline) and either a dark tricorne hat or a coonskin cap.

The costume that I found that most closely resembles this is this Colonial child costume by RG Costumes on Amazon. This costume is also available in adult sizes. It comes with brown breeches, a brown vest with attached white shirt sleeves and a cravat. The prop pistol, wig, shoes, hat, and socks are sold separately. The costume is made out of polyester.

Colonial boy costume by RG Costumes

Colonial boy costume by RG Costumes

If these costumes aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, another great site that has a huge selection of Revolutionary War costumes is HeritageCostumes.com. They have very unique Revolutionary War costumes that you can’t really find anywhere else. Some of the costumes include Crispus Attucks, Williams Dawes, Marquis De Lafayette, General Thomas Gage, John Hancock and King George III. As you can tell, the site is especially helpful if you are looking specifically for costumes related to Massachusetts during the American Revolution.

The only problem is the costumes on the Heritage Costumes website are a bit pricey. The prices range from $70-$90 for children’s costumes and $100-$200 for adult costumes, which is a bit much for a costume. But if price isn’t an issue and you are looking for something authentic and unique, Heritage Costumes is definitely the place to go.


(Disclaimer: purchases made through the links in this article help support historyofmassachusetts.org)

Sources:
James Lambert (1758-1847): An Elaboration of His American Revolutionary War Service; George Robert Lambert; 2008
Clothing Through American History: The British Colonial Era; Kathleen A. Staples, Madelyn C. Shaw; 2013
The Revolutionary War; Charles Patrick Neimeyer; 2007
Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket; Richard Holme; 2001
National Park Service: Just the Essentials: Clothing and Equipment of Revolutionary War Soldiers: https://www.nps.gov/mima/learn/education/upload/essentials.pdf

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the owner and operator of this website and all the articles are written and researched by her. Rebecca is a freelance writer and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Visit this site's About page to find out more about Rebecca.

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