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Primary Source of the Month

Eighteenth-Century Shirt

Man's Shirt (click to enlarge)
1775-1790, remodeled 1810-1820, America or England
Linen tabby with mother of pearl buttons
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, bequest of Grace Hartshorn Westerfield

In the eighteenth century, men wore shirts constantly, though they were not always visible. Shirts in the eighteenth century were more of an undergarment than they are today and reached almost to a man's knees. The shirts were generally made of linen, a common clothing fabric in the eighteenth century. During the day men tucked their shirts into breeches or pants and covered them with a waistcoat. At night, shirts became sleepwear.

For more information about this shirt, see emuseum.

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