18th Century Short Cloaks

Last updated: Jan 7, 2024

This notebook page focuses on depictions of short cloaks as worn by working-class women in the 18th century, as opposed to finer silk capuchins or otherwise fashionable cloaks worn by higher-class ladies. The cloaks in this set of links are likely to have been made from wool, are generally unlined, and may have simple collars instead of hoods. (Pages on full-length women’s cloaks and men’s cloaks are available elsewhere on this website.)

Some of the descriptions of female runaways’ cloaks may be referencing this shorter style of cloak.

Colonial Williamsburg 2018-4 (formerly Meg Andrews 8662) is a rare extant example, dated to c. 1770-1780: “Red wool (broadcloth) cloak, bound down the center front, around the hood, and interior neck edge with wide red silk tape. The cloak originally had a closure at the neck, but it is no longer present, only the scars remain from what appears to be ties. The main body of the cloak was cut geometrically as a half circle and the scraps were used to create the extensions down the front. Unless noted the seams are all stoated or joined together with no seam allowances. The hood is created with a box pleat at center back with radiating knife pleats to each side. The hood is very tall but shallow.