Historical Citizens Association

Getting Started in Reenacting


The Basic Impression:
What Every Civilian Re-Enactor Should Have

Clothing – one set (including undergarments, shoes, & headgear appropriate to your style of dress/impression). See next section for more details.
Chair (wooden/folding), and
Glass/Cup/Mug – please remember to keep hydrated!



Civil War (1860S) Clothing

Where to Look (for ideas):

Journal or Diary Accounts,
Photos (CDVs/carte-de-visites, Tin-types, Daguerréotypes, Ambrotypes, etc.)
Magazines with Fashion Plates (ex. Godey’s Lady’s Magazine).


General Overview


Men’s Clothing

  • a Frock Coat or Sack Coat (wool)
  • Civilian style trousers
  • a Waistcoat/Vest
  •  reproduction shoes (square toed, leather)
  • a necktie/stock/cravat
  • a civilian style hat or cap.

    Women’s Clothing

  • a “day dress” or “wash dress” depending on your
    (NOTE: Fit of the Bodice is Very Important in order to get
    The Look correct!)
  • complete set of undergarments [chemise, corset, drawers,
    stockings, & petticoat(s) – as well as a hoop, depending on
    one’s impression]
  • reproduction shoes (square toed, leather)
  • some form of appropriate headgear – bonnet, hat,
    day cap, etc.

    Children – miniature versions of adults.

  • Girls – dress, petticoat, apron/pinafore, stockings, & shoes
  • Boys – knee-length pants (depending on age), shirt, coat, socks, & shoes.
  • Note: children under the age of 5 would wear a dress, regardless of sex. Often, the only
    way to tell the sex of a young child, from an old photo, is by the placement of their hair part.
    (Center Part = Girls, Side Part= Boys).


    General Expense:
    eady-made vs. Home-made

    While it may save you time to buy ready made to start with, due to the overall fitted look, you’ll save yourself $ (and some headache) by making & fitting your own clothing…or, if you’re not handy with a thread & needle, have someone else make them for you.



    Creating Characters
    1st Person Vs. 3rd Person

    1st Person – a presentation style in which one creates a character that may have lived at the time in question (and attempts to maintain the impression, in language behavior, tone of voice, etc. throughout the event). Examples of this can bee seen at Pilgrim Village in Plymouth, Mass., or in Colonial Williamsburg.

    This method is highly recommended as it will help you hone your presentation in both appearance and manner. (For example, creating a character will influence what socio-economic level you portray in your style of dress, etc.)

    Visit the Residents page to see how we created our 1st Person Characters.

    3rd Person – a presentation style in which a modern person is commenting on life ‘back then’ versus life now. Docents at museums will often use this technique.


    *The above information copied with permission from “Panel Discussion – 1860s Reenacting (Civilian)” Handout for Costume College 2007.


    Need More Information or Help?

    Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding Reenacting, getting involved in Civilian Reenacting, or our group in general.  We have a Yahoogroup forum for discussions on event planning and research.  To Join the Yahoogroups Discussion Forum, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HistoricalCitizens/ and request to join. (This forum is open to non-members of the HCA). To email your question(s) directly, please send them to info@historicalcitizens.org .


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    For more information, please contact us at info@historicalcitizens.org.