I never had much interest in recreating nobles and macaronis. I always found the common man more interesting. I don’t really have a reason for this… maybe it is because I see to many aristocrats and I want to be different? Or I just like to be gritty.
I am happy enough to have friends around me that like to do the same stuff. So we routinely get out in the woods to do… commonerstuff.
This article talks about how we look at things and makes no aspirations about being the ultimate guide to commoners. You may, if you like, choose to see it as a start to more in-depth research if you like… but really it is just some thoughts scribbled down by me.
The illusive commoner
I mostly do early 18th Century, the age of the great Nordic war (1700-1720). this is a time where virtually noone painted commoners in Sweden. There is very Little pictorial evidence of them and costume historians have had this problem for ages…. There are some written evidence but these seldom tells us HOW things looked. In general the timeperiod is refered to as ‘the long 17th century’ (1560 to 1719) as little happens that changes things during this time. The early 18th century basically had the same fashion in clothes as the late 17th century. Long waistcoats and justacorps rule the upper and middleclass as well as the army. There is some evidence that the more provinsional types had a lingering earlier 17th century fashion with ballonish breeches and short jackets. If you where closer to towns, you seem to have a more updated dress though.
Jon is seen here with a broadcloth coat. Grey broadcloth, heavily fulled, seems to have been the most common for basic commoners. “grey farmer” was used to describe that class by others. It often lacked buttons, using hooks and eyelets instead. Jon has a more fashionable variant. Sporting tin buttons and short cuffs, the style used by the military and called “Swedish cuffs” by others.
The round uncocked hat is also the common hat for the peasant class. Sometimes a knitted hat was popular as well.
buff/chamoise was popular both in the army and amongst commoners. Jon has a buff/chamois waistcoat. They where usually of moose, but ox was also used. The shoes have birchbark soles, very good to keep wet and Cold out. They also lack buckles, also not required by commoners. The army had their socks outside their breeches, but civilians had their breeches over socks earlier, even in 17th Century. Knitted socks are winning ground, but sewn socks are still more common. Usually you see some kneebands helping to hold them up.
Tröja, väst and kamisol
Väst is the Swedish Word for vest/waistcoat. if it had a full back, that is full long and with same cloth as the front, it was considered fit for outerwear without a coat on.
Armvests/sleeved waistcoats was referred to as ‘tröja’ or if it was of buff leather ‘kamisol’. It seems you could use both a ‘väst’ and a ‘tröja’ at the same time. This is refered to in text and songs. There is also a dragoonuniform with both väst and kamisol (both in leather).
On this Picture I wear a green wool waistcoat and over that a grey sleeved waistcoat with leatherfacings buttonholes and the inner arms of leather. The simple reason for this is that I ran out of cloth and opted for putting the leather on the inside of the arms as it seems to have been common to try to put ‘replacementcloth’ on the least visible places. The pockets are low, as were common in early 18th Century and I wear goatskinn breaches.
This is something that often irks foreign reenactors.
The selfowning Swedish farmer. That is the head of the household, not so often his farmhands, often sported a beard. This seems to have been a vital part of their identity. Even if regional fashions was observed it seems most common to shave the moustache.
For more musings of bearding you can look here.
I would like to write more about womenclothing, but to be honest I know to little as I have mostly looked at male clothing for my own reenacting. Perhaps on a later date I can get someone who knows stuff to write an article for me.
Lets look at something at least. The same is true for women as with men. The fashion lingers from the century before. The skirts are full and have one or several petticoats under. Some think that you used the skirts you hade and then altered which one was topmost and visible.
The ‘tröja’ for women was usually three quarters length on the arms, or it was full length and folded back up. To combat the chill of not wearing full length arms you could use longer unfingered gloves.
The shawl was carried either tucked into the tröja or over it. Sometimes a longer bigger one was carried swept across the chest and tied on the back. possibly they could have been knitted. Stays seems to have been used, but it is possible that they were taken off during labour.
To see more of this particular reenactingsession when we where out collecting branches and twigs check out Jons video below or check our pictures on my facebook .