Jump to content
MrsSurvival Discussion Forums

Did they really wear that on a FARM?!

Recommended Posts

Okay this is a little scatter brained but...


The women in older days always seemed to be wearing dresses (I'm assuming mostly because of religious beliefs about modesty) but how did they do farm work like that? How do you tend to animals and garden and everything else you need to do in a dress??? And of course it wouldn't really matter but... if I wear a dress or skirt I wear it with dress shoes and that certainly wouldn't work in the fields so what kind of shoes did they wear? :008Laughing: Okay I know this is a crazy thought but I was just wondering...

Link to post

My grandmother wore a dress every day. It was knee length and a lightweight cotton. She wore canvas tennis shoes in the summer and boots in the winter. She didn't do it strictly for religious reasons, just was brought up that way and what she always wore. Not even sure she owned a pair of pants. I never saw her wearing any. But she did whatever what needed in that dress.

Link to post

I like to wear dresses. I don't wear them every day, but I have worked outside in a dresss.Most of the time when I am doing housework I will wear a dress. I just wear tennis shoes. It's not as bad as you think.It's like wearing shorts.



Link to post

My aunt always wore a dress when she worked outside. I don't remember what type of shoes she wore. That was back in the 50's.






Link to post

Hubby and I were watching an old episode of "The Rifleman" on a local station last week. We were both surprised to see a woman in the show, *in town*, wearing 50's-style tight jeans. And she was supposed to be a "respectable" character, too. We looked at each other and laughed; women *might* have occasionally worn a pair on men's pants on the farm, but they sure wouldn't have been tight and form-fitting. And NEVER in town unless they were dragged there.


Dresses were just what women wore. And they had to be careful; many were burned when a skirt or sleeve would catch fire while cooking, baking, or heating water for laundry. And there were no antibiotics available.


Did you know that, in many areas, most boys living out in the the country wore dresses until they "graduated" into pants? My Dad and his brothers wore them in his Amish family in the early 30s. They saved a LOT of laundry for the women of the family. The first few years, it was just easier.


Shoes were those very uncomfortable black things with buttons up the side. You didn't easily put them on or remove them. They could also use men's boots, but I'm sure many just went barefoot a lot of the time. Going barefoot hardens the feet so that you don't mind the ground as much.






Link to post

I can see the point in the dresses being the way they were brought up and do understand the modesty in it also. I like dresses and skirts and don't mind wearing them. Its just the question of safety and being able to do everything. Cooking and all else could cause burns and then again I was just thinking of getting out in the woods and briars could hurt. Ouch! I usually only wear jeans outside because of it although the dresses or skirts wouldn't get as dirty in the garden if they were above the knee. I was actually working on cutting down our wardrobes and just got to thinking about it because dresses would definitely cut out a lot of items. I'm so easily amused. :24:

Edited by michelle
Link to post

Speaking from my own perspective, I wear ankle length skirts almost exclusively. Mine aren't quite as bulky, but you get used to walking, working, and remembering to carefully approach stairs in them. That being said, I grew up working in the family business as a construction mechanic and do wear shorts that go past my knees (culottes) on job sites.


But even in groups that teach modesty and have dress standards like my Church, they still realize there are safety considerations where different dress is required. I choose to address both concerns by wearing modestly cut shorts. But I do have one pair of loose fitting work jeans, something I reserve only for working outdoors with machinery in winter where safety and weather demand it.

Link to post
  • 5 weeks later...

I were long dresses/skirts everyday and have no problems working outside. I just ware normal shoes or running shoes.


I am going to try making some split skirts for the kids and myself to. A little more modest when the kids are climbing trees. :24:

Link to post

On our homestead I wear either long jeans skirts and a top or else I wear a dress. Only rarely do I wear jeans. Mostly when we are out cutting wood for the stove when it turns cold out. All my foremothers (is that a word? LOL) wore were dresses too. And a good stiff apron or a long one. Somehow that seemed to help.



Link to post

Several of the schools I went to did not allow girls to wear britches--except under their skirts. Most girls got skilled at catching the material between our thighs before we went upside-down on the playground. I wore a dress to Girl Scout camp once, largely because I didn't have the required number of changes of clothes otherwise. I was teased rather a lot on the bus there, but once there it turned out I wasn't the only one in a dress.

Edited by Ambergris
Link to post

Pants are easier;

no pulling them up out of the mud, no flashing other people when the wind blows, no scorching of the hems when they blow into the fire, no tangling in the branches when pruning trees or picking fruit, no bare legs getting scratched by the berry thorns.


Why should women have to wear clothing that must constantly be twitched out of the way, held to one's body, or caused many women and girls to be badly burned? Men didn't.

Link to post

The bigger problem with dresses is not out in the yard but working around FIRE. Most dresses from the past had burn holes in the front from getting to close to the wood stove or outside working with fires to boil water or cook.

They also went barefoot a lot out in the gardens.

Amish (and Lori) still wear dresses (below calf) and head coverings all the time both inside and out.


Link to post

From childhood memory ........................ Both GM's and my one still-living GGM wore nothing but dresses. All 3 worked farming, gardening, cows, chickens, etc.


Didn't think anything about it at the time, 'twas just the way they dressed.


Oh - All three wore "bonnets" as well.

Link to post

I wear both skirts and pants, but wear skirts more than pants. I do everything in my skirts. I work in the garden, help pour concrete, do block work, feed animals, walk thru the woods, work with farm equipment and everything. I just do things different when I'm wearing a skirt. All mine are long so if I am working with equipment I just convert them into a pair of shorts. If I'm working in the garden I make sure I wear a denim skirt because they are thicker and can handle the ground and come clean when washed. Nothing can't be done in a dress you just have to think before you do some things.


Oh and my Grandmother always wore a skirt and she lived on a farma and did everything. She was a large lady and there wasn't anything else she could wear back then so it was dresses. Never stopped her once with anything.

Link to post

I understand they wore long dresses stockings and boots. Don't forget the bonnet. Little house on the prairie. Of course they all wore aprons.


Let's not forget the corsette!!!


Today it would be long denim skirt and sneakers or space boots. Loved those.

Link to post

well now that the subject came up I did find a time when a dress or skirt is NOT a good thing. Actually two things. One when pouring concrete floors it drags on the ground and ends up stiff and hard to clean on the bottom. :rolleyes: And two and this one was a lesson learned from a recent experiance. Skirts are NOT good to wear when dealing with wasps and their nests! They are very spiteful little buggers when you remove their nests from your porch umbrella and they fly up your skirt and give you a very painful surprise! :o YEP those pioneer ladies were awesome and ruggid! Lesson learned. <_<

Link to post

I was finally able to wear pants at school once I was in seventh grade, but I know even my grandmother who was an after school curriculum coach/instructor wore pants at work in the fifties and sixties. She wore dresses to church , as did I and my mother until I was in my teens, it began changing. ( Well, youth group was ok to wear slacks to), regular church, I wore dresses until recently, but I havent been attending, just read my bible and share thoughts on such things with christian friends online, since my local christian friends have all passed on.

The one thing I think could be a real problem, is if you were wearing the full length, petticoat type dresses and you fall in the river or lake, that the weight of the wet clothing makes it very difficult to swim, or float to safety, and for tending fires and hearths.... definitely not something you can expect me to do if I dont have to. It is one thing to wear dresses for nice outings, church and appropriate settings, but for every day wear, I will stick to my jeans and shorts. I would rather keep any dresses and skirts nice. Pants also require less material in the making as well. They are not skin tight either.

But I am likely to be in rugged country if things get bad enough, so I will keep my jeans and camo pants handy, thanks very much!


One of the other things is that pantaloons were designed for easy of use when going to the outhouse and that there were probably less yeast infections in women too, because panties cause conditions to be worse on the average.

Link to post

when a woman wore dresses on the farm or home steads they wore boots...i tried the drees or skirt bit many years ago , i now wear jeans and boots and that is the way i am, do not own a dress and wore suit pants to my daughters wedding as it is hard to find a skirt here to fit me, so i do not own one...hubby is fine with that...take care and keep the faith

Link to post
  • 4 months later...
Okay this is a little scatter brained but...


The women in older days always seemed to be wearing dresses (I'm assuming mostly because of religious beliefs about modesty) but how did they do farm work like that? How do you tend to animals and garden and everything else you need to do in a dress??? And of course it wouldn't really matter but... if I wear a dress or skirt I wear it with dress shoes and that certainly wouldn't work in the fields so what kind of shoes did they wear? :008Laughing: Okay I know this is a crazy thought but I was just wondering...


I do Civil War reenacting and have done farm work in period clothes. First, they did not wear cage crinolines and instead of corsets wore corded stays (no metal just channels with cotton or hemp cording running through them). Also, the dresses worn for work were normally hemmed shorter, about ankle length and often they would loop the skirts up and hook them in the waistband of the apron to get them out of the way in front if bending over a lot (I do this when I am stooping a lot to pick up hay for instance or weeding or digging a fire pit). Also, the work dresses usually had sleeves that either had a button cuff (bishop sleeves) or were two piece coat sleeves and could either be rolled up or pushed up. Petticoats were usually mid calf length as well and contrary to popular belief the work ones were often made of a printed or colored fabric that did not show dirt as badly. Sturdy boots were mostly worn when working as well, they looked very similar to what we call "ropers" or "paddock boots" only without the fringe thingy laced in for decoration. Also, they wore slat bonnets or corded brim bonnets when out in the fields for sun protection. Those lady's were tough back then and very practical as well. After living in their shoes for one weekend at a time for the past ten years I have come to the conclusion that I am spoiled rotten with my indoor plumbing and push button life.

Link to post
  • 3 weeks later...

Adding another thought to this old thread. I wonder if the long, long history of women wearing dresses and skirts may have been motivated by a woman's elimination needs. Just thinking about being in a huge wagon train, in the middle of a prairie with not a large rock, tree or bush in sight and needing to pee - NOW. Given this situation would I rather be wearing pants and show the whole company my hind end or wear a dress that would cover me somewhat and preserve my modesty? I'll take the dress.


I've heard the Pilgrims wore no underwear at all. In the Civil War era women wore pantaloons with a split crotch. Both would make it easier to take care of bodily needs without exposure.



Lastly, after wearing skirts and long-sleeve cotton blouses when the children and I volunteer at our local living history museum I've become a fan of pioneer dressing. Skirts are much cooler than long pants and I find a long-sleeve, lightweight cotton blouse less warm to wear than our modern short-sleeve knit shirts.


I'm just saying, I think there are good reasons people of the past dressed the way they did.


Now I just need to find myself a good pair of ladies work boots to go with my long skirts.

Link to post

Wanted to add that, when working around fire, some women wore wool aprons because the wool would smolder rather than flash into flame.

There is this tip too.


From the book, "INQUIRE WITHIN UPON EVERYTHING", first published in 1856 by Houlston and Stoneman in Great Britain.

Page 3, Tip # 28.


PREVENTION OF FIRES, add one ounce of alum (Alum is inexpensive and available at any good drug store.) to the last water used to rinse children's dresses and they will be rendered uninflammable, or so slightly combustible that they would take fire very slowly, if at all, and would not flame. This is a simple precaution. which may be adopted in families of children. Bed curtains, and linen in general, may also be treated in the same way.


Above posted on www.blockaderunner.com


Link to post

My grandma grew up in Southeastern Oregon, high desert country. She had one older brother and was the second child, the first girl.


After getting out of "baby" dresses, she loved wearing her brother's outgrown overalls because her legs were always cold. When polyester came out after the war, she was always in slacks or jeans because she thought they were so much easier. She did take great care when relieving herself out doors for modesty sake, but never spoke of it being an issue. She also wore dresses on Sundays and other special occasions. When I asked her more about wearing pants recently, she recalled a neighbor's wife being badly burned from having her skirts catch fire - it was purely an accident. She vowed it would never happen to her.


I adore skirts and wear them whenever I can, but in today's world, there are just times when jeans are more practical - like when working with concrete. :)

Link to post
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.