Victorian Durham
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What did the poor wear?


Poor families owned a very few everyday outfits and, if they were lucky, some smarter clothes to wear to church or on special occasions. Many outfits were bought second-hand and were passed down through the family. Clothes would have been mended and patched for as long as possible.

Clothes had to be practical. You had to be able to work in them and they had to last a long time. They were often made from wool or cotton in dark colours as this was cheaper and the dirt didn't show as much. Shoes also had to last a long time. Some people wore heavy boots with thick hob-nailed soles. Women wore caps and bonnets not just to be respectable but to keep hair from getting caught in machines and to fend off dirt and headlice.

Children wore clothes handed down from older family members. Not all families could afford shoes for their children so some had to go barefoot.

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Photograph of a Victorian working man

Photograph showing a man dressed in work clothes. Image courtesy of (Click on image to enlarge.)

Photograph of family making trousers

Photograph showing a Victorian family at work making trousers. Image courtesy of (Click on image to enlarge.)