Clothing Standards

The First Virginia Regiment is a Revolutionary War living history and reenactment group. We portray Continental Army troops from the State of Virginia from 1775 through 1783. The group consists of soldiers who portray the Musket Company, the Artillery Crew, and portray civilians who followed and supported the Army.

The unit maintains authenticity standards to which all members are expected to adhere. This includes the specific fabrics and other materials used for our military clothing and gear, as well as the patterns, and construction details. New members should understand that the unit has gone to great lengths to research each item, as well as to locate sources of supply and manufacture. We recommend coordinating your purchases of clothing and gear from sources other than those stipulated by the unit.  We recognize it takes time and money to achieve a higher level of authenticity. We do not expect new members to meet all requirements immediately. The group maintains a loaner locker of clothing and gear new members may use while they obtain their military “kit.”  We recommend using the loaner locker so you can participate while having the time necessary to obtain the required uniform and gear. We believe the level of authenticity, value, and satisfaction achieved by our requirements is well worth the time and effort.

Please note the following:

Proper fit is expected for each garment. Breeches should be snug around the body without an overly baggy rear. Gowns and jackets should be snug in the bodice with a skirt/petticoat of appropriate width and length. Do not hesitate to discuss with the Quartermaster/Quartermistress.

Standards are included for all participants of the First Virginia. Please review the standards that apply to you and your family.

General Camp Standards

Camp Equipment/Miscellaneous

Military Standards

Musicians (Fife and Drum)

Civilian Standards (including Militia)

Impression Requirements


This is the full uniform for the Musket Company. Variations for Artillerymen are annotated.

The Musket Company wears the uniform of the First Virginia Regiment prescribed by the Continental Congress in 1779. We know some details about this uniform from primary source documentation. Gaps in our understanding have been filled by comparable items based on well-documented examples from the period.

Regimental Coat: The coat is made from high quality dark blue and madder red wool Broadcloth, with a smooth finish. Coats are patterned after the well-documented 1779 Regulations as ordered by the Continental Congress. The wool coat is constructed with raw edges (except where noted), lined with serge and linen, and hand-finished. The materials should be purchased from the Quartermaster (QM) and made either by one of our approved tailors or according to our detailed instructions. The unit can provide help and guidance for members planning to make their own coat and other garments.

Small Clothes: The waistcoat, breeches, and overalls are made from natural colored linen, twill-weave hemp fabric, or wool are available from the QM. The waistcoat is lined with linen and may have working pockets. The waistcoat must fit snugly through the body, be the proper length and fit, and may lace up the back. Overalls and breeches must fit very snug through the legs and may require tightening after they are worn the first several times since the fabric will stretch. These garments are to be made from fabric supplied by the QM following the unit patterns and made either by our approved tailors or by the member.

Shirt: The shirt, worn under the waistcoat, is to be made of plain, medium weight white linen. The shirt may also be made of dark blue check pattern linen which can be purchased from the QM. No other colors or patterns of fabric are allowed. The shirt should have a high collar which folds over the neck stock. The cuffs should be no wider than 1 inch, and the shirt-tails should extend at least 6 inches, or more, below the crotch.

Neck Stock: Soldiers wear a black neck stock made of velveret (cotton velvet) or linen, lined with linen, and with buckram stiffening. A black thong or a stock clasp may be used.

Hat: A black cocked hat with white wool tape along the edge of the brim is worn. The cord (or tape) used to hold up the leaves of the hat is black. The cockade is made of plain black linen. Soldiers should purchase their hat from a unit recommended vendor.

Shoes: Members of the unit wear period reproduction shoes. Shoes must be black leather with a plain nickel or brass buckle or leather ties.

Cartridge Box: Soldiers carry a reproduction of the Late War “Congress” box. Our cartridge boxes are made by unit members and offered through the QM.

Bayonet Carriage: The QM offers finished bayonet slings with a heart-shaped frog, believed to date from the War. A “double-frog” sling in kit form is also available.

Haversack: Our haversack is based on the original British item in the Craig Nanos collection. It is sold as a kit for soldiers to make.

Knapsack: All soldiers should have a “New Invented Knapsack-Haversack” which is described in a document in the Maryland Historical Society collection. According to the period document, this was carried by troops from Virginia. This item is sold as a kit by the QM.

Musket: Italian (Pedersoli) and Japanese (Miroku) reproduction muskets are allowed; no India-made muskets are permitted for safety reasons. Muskets of other manufacture are subject to approval by the unit. New members who own one of these approved muskets when they join must have it inspected by the Commanding Officer, the First Serjeant, or the Safety Officer prior to fielding.

Facial Hair: Continental Army soldiers were expected to be clean-shaven. Common practice for soldiers was to shave at least every two or three days, on special parade days, and for guard duty. The unit expects our soldiers to have no more than three day’s growth at an event. Goatees, mustaches, or any other creative facial hair is frowned upon.

Hair: The common hairstyle for soldiers during the period was typically tied in a queue, braided, or clubbed. Shorter styles were not unheard of, especially for farmers and tradesmen. At least one order for Virginia’s Continental soldiers, appearing in the Orderly Book of the 6th Virginia Regiment, stipulates that the soldier’s hair should be cut short and all to the same length.

Some members choose to wear their hair long or purchase a wig to enhance their 18th-century military appearance. If your hair or wig is long enough, it should be tied back with a leather thong, or a black ribbon of linen, silk, or wool tape.

Optional Items subject to uniform of the day orders from the Commanding Officer:

Hunting Shirt: The early war hunting shirt worn is unique to the unit. It is based on descriptions of the garment worn by Virginia’s Continental regiments in Williamsburg during the period 1775 – 1776. The Hunting Shirt is made of heavy, natural color, oznabirg linen. It is a pullover style garment, cut short not to extend lower than the crotch, and has a shirt collar. An Officer’s Hunting Shirt has fringe on the collar.

Our late war hunting shirts are based on descriptions of those worn by troops later in the war.

Blue Wool Leggings: These are made from blue wool supplied by the QM.

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Members of the First Virginia’s artillery portray soldiers from the First Continental Artillery Regiment which was raised in Virginia in 1776. First Virginia Artillery members wear the late war Musket Company uniform as prescribed in Washington’s Orders of 1779 with the following exceptions.

Regimental Coat: Artillery coats include red wool lining for the coat tails and yellow wool tape around the buttonholes.

Hat: The Artillery cocked hat has yellow wool tape along the edge of the brim.

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Musicians (Fife and Drum)

First Virginia’s Musicians wear the late war Musket Company uniform as prescribed in Washington’s Orders of 1779 with the following exception.

Regimental Coat: Musician coats are red with blue facing and white lining.

Musicians will also carry accoutrements necessary for their instruments rather than a musket and a soldier’s accoutrements.

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Civilian Impression Requirements

A proper impression is encouraged for all civilians which requires some research on your part.

The following are suggested impressions that are appropriate to civilians found with the Continental Army. These are the most common roles seen with the Army; however, the list is not all-inclusive. If thorough research leads you to another impression, then please discuss your primary documentation with the Civilian Coordinator.

Note that the role of Officer’s wife is reserved for those women who are indeed wives/significant others of the First Virginia Officers.

Women Children (Aged 13 and over) Men
Seamstress Petty Sutler Cordwainer
Laundress Nurse Chaplain
Nurse Beggar Sutler
Petty Sutler Armorer
Poor bedraggled soldier’s wife/Beggar Surgeon

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Required items (amplified below):

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Clothing Item Unacceptable Minimum Acceptable Best
Coats (Required)^
  • Regimental coats
  • Hunting shirts, or over-shirts (except for militia)
  • Baggy coats
  • Cotton canvas or damask upholstery fabric
  • Workman smocks
  • Well-fit workman’s coat in linen or wool with minor visible machine stitching
  • Hand-finished, well-fit coats in straight-bodied or cutaway styles, made of wool or linen
  • Common colors for wool include drab, brown, green, red, or blue.
  • Common colors for linen coats include naturals, browns, and blues

Jackets and Waistcoats (Required)^
  • Regimental waistcoats
  • Cotton canvas or upholstery fabric
  • Extremely long or baggy waistcoats or jackets.
  • Well-fit waistcoats or jackets (sleeved waistcoat) with minor visible machine stitching in linen or wool
  • Hand-finished, well-fit single or double breasted waistcoats, skirted or square cut, with or without sleeves.
  • Wool broadcloth, kersey, serge, linsey-woolsey, or linen in drab, brown, white, green, red or blue
  • Sleeved waistcoats may be worn as the primary outer garment for working men

Breeches and Trousers (Required)^
  • Regimental breeches
  • Fringed trousers
  • Breeches sagging in the thigh or knee
  • Petticoat over-breeches (Sailors only) not worn over breeches
  • Well-fit breeches or trousers with minor visible machine stitching
  • Fall-front trousers of linen or hemp canvas, either plain, checked, or striped in color
  • Hand-finished, well-fit fall-front breeches
  • Wool broadcloth, kersey, linsey-woolsey, serge, cotton velvet, wool plush, linen, or leather
  • Knee bands may have buckled, tied, or buttoned closures
  • Common colors include blue, brown, black, drab or natural

Shirts (Required)^
  • Cotton calico
  • Plaid shirts
  • Shirts with collars more 4’’, cuffs more than 1’’
  • Machine stitched checked, striped, natural or white linen shirts.
  • White wool flannel shirt
  • Collars 4’’or less, cuffs 1’’or less
  • Hand-stitched, checked, striped, natural or white linen or wool shirts
  • Cuffs made with two buttonholes to each cuff and tied with tape or closed with sleeve-buttons (cuff links)

Neckwear (Required)^
  • Military horsehair or leather neck stocks.
  • Machine hemmed cotton handkerchiefs
  • Hand hemmed silk, linen, or cotton handkerchiefs
  • Pleated linen neck stocks with buckles
  • Linen rollers

Stockings (Required)^
  • Horizontally striped stockings and modern socks
  • Machine-knit cotton, wool, or silk over-the-knee stockings
  • Tied with leather or cotton/linen tape garters below the knee.
  • Hand-knit or frame-knit over the knee stockings in linen, wool, silk, or cotton, in white, blue, grey, brown and black

Shoes (Required)^
  • Sneakers, slippers, or any other obviously modern shoes.
  • Civil War bootees
  • Riding boots
  • Commercially available brown or black leather lace up shoes
  • Period-style machine sewn black, brown or red leather shoes with buckles or single hole with tape tie.
  • Hand sewn black leather shoes with buckle or ties.
  • Straight-lasted and round toed
  • Hobnails
Legwear (Optional for rural impressions)
  • Tall military gaiters
  • Baggy spatterdashers
  • Wool or Indian leggings
  • Well-fit canvas spatterdashes with minor machine finishing
  • Gaiters needed to hide unobtrusively modern leather footwear.
  • Well-fit, hand-finished spatterdashers or farmer’s half-gaiters of black, brown, or drab wool, or black leather.

Hats and Caps (Required)^
  • Slouch hats from unfinished blanks
  • Fur caps
  • Military hats and cockades
  • Oval-blocked hats made of black felt in cocked or round styles
  • Round straw hats for sailors and laborers
  • Paneled linen workman cap
  • Hand-finished, round-blocked, hats made of black wool or beaver felt (gentlemen only), cut round, and either left plain or cocked in appropriate civilian styles.
  • Gathered linen or knit-wool Monmouth cap.
Cold/Wet weather clothing
  • Oilcloth
  • Modern synthetic rainwear
  • Outer garments from other historical periods.
  • Machine-stitched greatcoats, surtouts, and cloaks made of wool broadcloth in blue, brown, gray, red, and black with a collar and at least one circular shoulder cape.
  • Plain wool blanket
  • Well fit, hand-stitched greatcoats, surtouts, and cloaks made of wool broadcloth in blue, brown, gray, red, and black with a collar and at least one circular shoulder cape.

Facial Hair^
  • Beards
  • Goatees
  • Mustaches if other than German
  • Clean shaven. Slight stubble (five o’clock shadow) is acceptable for working men.
  • Handlebar style mustaches are acceptable for a German portrayal only.
Hair^ The 1VA understands that concessions must be made regarding hair as reenactors must also function in the professional world.

  • Men are encouraged to wear wigs or false queues, styled in a period manner.
  • Men with longer natural hair may wear it tied back into a ponytail with a black ribbon or leather thong, queued (wrapped tightly in long lengths of wool or silk ribbon), or clubbed (folded back on itself and tied in the center with a knot or bow).
Carrying Your Items
  • Military haversack
  • Military knapsack
  • Wallets
  • Market wallet
  • Tied handkerchiefs
  • Pockets in garments

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Required items (amplified below):

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Clothing Item Unacceptable Minimum Acceptable Best
Gowns/jackets/bedgowns (Required)^
  • Obvious machine stitching
  • Cabbage Rose, paisley, or calico prints
  • Sleeveless garments
  • Riding habits/silk gowns (unless otherwise specified by the Civilian Coordinator for a specific event.)
  • Long jackets such as caracos
  • Machine sewn or machine sewn and hand finished
  • Short fitted jackets with non-pleated backs in linen or wool worn over stays
  • Bedgowns in linen or wool which may be worn with or without stays
  • Properly-fitted shortgowns worn with stays
  • Hand sewn
  • Stomacher-front or closed front gowns, hand-sewn in wool, or linen.
  • Cotton gowns in a documentable print.

Petticoats (Required)^
  • Print petticoats when not worn with a gown or jacket of matching fabric.
  • Cotton or silk petticoats are generally not appropriate for 1VA portrayals (unless otherwise specified by the Civilian Coordinator for a specific event.)
  • Machine sewn or machine sewn and hand finished
  • One petticoat of linen or wool with tape ties.
  • Petticoat must be full, mid-calf to ankle length, and approximately 36 inches in circumference.
  • Hand sewn
  • Two petticoats of fabric appropriate to your gown, jacket or bedgown and appropriate for your portrayal.

Shift (Required)^
  • Obviously machine stitched shifts
  • Printed or colored fabrics
  • Cotton or silk fabrics
  • Machine sewn and hand-finished white or natural colored linen or wool flannel.
  • Hand-sewn fine white linen with banded sleeves closing with sleeve links or ties.
  • Shifts should be low-necked (but not off the shoulder), with sleeves reaching slightly below the elbow.
Stays ^ (Stays must be worn with any garment other than a bedgown. Bedgowns are more forgiving to an unstayed body, however stays should still be worn.
  • Not wearing stays with gowns or jackets. Stays MUST be worn with any garment other than a bedgown.
  • Machine sewn 1770’s or 1780’s style stays.
  • Commercially purchased stays that produce the correct shape from a reputable sutler.
  • Stiffened with steel, reed, or plastic boning substitutes.
  • Hand-sewn boned stays
  • Leather binding
  • Fabric exterior should be linen, worsted wool, or leather. (Silk acceptable for upper-class portrayals.)
  • Lined with linen canvas,
  • Stiffened with baleen or cane.

Neck handkerchief (Required)^
  • Shawls or lack of neck handkerchief
  • Triangle or folded square of linen, cotton, wool, or silk
  • Fine machine-finished edges
  • Commercially available neck handkerchiefs from reputable sutlers
  • May be white, colored, small checks, stripes, or appropriate block prints
  • Hand-finished checked linen, white linen, or cotton prints for others.

Apron (Required)^
  • Floral, paisley or calico print aprons
  • Pinner or bib aprons
  • Machine sewn apron in linen tying with self or linen tape ties
  • May be white, natural colored, solid colored, checked, or striped.
  • Hand-sewn linen

Stockings (Required)^
  • Horizontally striped stockings and modern socks
  • Machine-knit cotton, wool, or silk over-the-knee stockings
  • Tied with leather or cotton/linen tape garters below the knee.
  • Hand-knit or frame-knit over the knee stockings in linen, wool, silk, or cotton, in white, blue, grey, brown and black

Shoes (Required)^
  • Sneakers, slippers, strapped Mary Janes, or any other obviously modern shoes.
  • Commercially available brown or black leather lace up shoes
  • Period-style machine sewn black, brown or red leather shoes with buckles or single hole with tape tie.
  • Hand sewn shoes in calamanco or silk fabric with buckles.
  • Hand sewn leather shoes with buckle.

Cap (Required)^
  • Mobcaps
  • Eyelet caps
  • Machine lace
  • Colored caps
  • Plain white linen cap with front band and gathered back.
  • White linen or organdy, hand-sewn, with 100% silk ribbon, in a documented style. Should be suited to your face, age, and impression.
  • Flowers and feathers in the hair or used to trim hats (A freshly picked flower for the day is OK.)
  • Obviously synthetic materials
  • Men’s hats
  • “Tunnel” hats (ties sewn on the outside of crown, pulling the brim down when tied)
  • No hat or bonnet
  • Black silk bonnet in documented style.
  • Natural colored, low crown, straw hats with simple silk ribbon trim.
  • Silk ribbon tie sewn on the inside of crown
  • Low-crowned women’s style in straw, trimmed with silk ribbon or covered in silk fabric.
  • Bonnet in black silk or other documentable color
Cold Weather Clothing
  • Kinsale cloaks
  • Celtic pins and penannular brooches
  • Clasps on cloaks
  • Shawls
  • Machine sewn wool broadcloth cloak in madder red or other dark color with hook and eye closure and optional silk ribbon tie.
  • Wool or silk handkerchiefs
  • Wool stockings
  • Knitted or sewn wool mitts
  • Plain wool blanket
  • Hand-stitched period-pattern cloaks, mantles, hoods, etc., in an impression appropriate fabric.
  • Wool handkerchiefs, mitts, mittens, or gloves wool and/or fur muffs. Weather (as appropriate for impression).
  • Quilted waistcoat and petticoat
Other Considerations
  • Visible non-natural hair color
  • Braided or curled hair protruding from caps
  • Obviously modern styles visible
  • All hair must be put up and worn under a white linen cap.
  • Bangs must be pulled back, secured, and hidden under a cap.
Makeup Makeup is unacceptable.
  • Visible, non-ear piercings
  • Modern earrings, rings, or necklaces
  • Multiple ear piercings
  • No jewelry
  • Please ask for assistance when determining what jewelry to wear.
  • Period appropriate drop or hoop earrings
  • A simple gold ring band
  • Period appropriate simple necklaces or a ribbon tied around neck.
  • Eyelet, tatting lace, and crochet are unacceptable.
  • Lace is only acceptable in small quantities (such as on a cap) and if it is a replication of a period style.
  • Knitted items are unacceptable with the exception of stockings, mitts, or Monmouth caps. Knitting was most often done “in the round.”
Carrying Items
  • Haversacks
  • Pockets worn outside of gown and petticoats
  • Obviously modern baskets
  • Reticules, purses, and bags with shoulder straps
  • Pockets (single or pair) worn under gown and petticoats.
  • Market wallet
  • Baskets made of wood splint or willow without metal
  • Apron tucked up into waist tie

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Clothing Item Unacceptable Minimum Acceptable Best
Babes in arms
  • Visible modern diapers
  • Shirt or shift and cap of white linen, cotton, or wool.
  • Plastic diapers should be covered with a white linen or wool cloth.
  • Shirt or shift and cap of white linen, cotton, or wool.
  • Bed gown/robe and petticoat in white linen or wool.
  • Shoes and stockings are optional.
Young children Unbreeched boys from toddlers through age 3 to 7, and girls from toddlers through early puberty. Children older than these ages ranges should use the standards for Men and Women.
  • Breeches on boys younger than 3
  • Shift in white linen, cotton, or wool
  • Back closing child’s gown
  • Bare feet or plain black or brown leather lace-up shoes
  • White linen cap for girls
  • Shift of white linen, or wool
  • Child’s gown (back closing for either gender / front closing for boys only)
  • Petticoat
  • Cap and hat for girls
  • Linen or wool cap or uncocked or single cocked hat for boys (optional)
  • Reproduction shoes in a similar style to adult shoes
Carrying Items
  • Haversacks
  • Pockets worn outside of gown and petticoats
  • Obviously modern baskets
  • Bags with shoulder straps

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Camp Equipment and Miscellaneous

Item Unacceptable Minimum Acceptable Best
Camp Equipment
  • Modern lanterns
  • Lantern stands
  • Visible sleeping bags or cots
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Visible coolers
  • Generators
  • Open flames in tents
  • Modern camping stoves
  • Modern food stuffs and condiments
  • Food in modern containers
  • Sleeping Bags covered and kept out of sight
  • Cots covered and kept out of sight
  • 18th-century style wooden boxes or baskets
  • Coolers covered and kept out of sight
  • 18th-century style ground cloth.
  • Reproduction lanterns
  • Food in wrapped in linen or in another authentic package
  • Wool blankets, linen bolsters, and straw mattresses
  • 18th-century style food packaged and carried appropriately
Water Containers
  • Clearly modern drinking vessels and bottles
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Simple glass bottle in a period style
  • Reproduction ceramic mugs
  • Tin cup
Vision Aids
  • Obviously modern glasses
  • Flashy glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Colored lenses
  • Simple metal frames
  • Reproduction frames
  • Contact lenses
  • Because glasses were uncommon among the societal class the 1VA members portray, contact lenses are preferred.
Other Common Items
  • Cellphones
  • Modern coffee mugs
  • Lighters/matches
  • Restaurant Containers
  • Modern items must be used out of sight.

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