BREAKING NEWS: Pilgrims Probably Didn’t Dress Like Grandma’s Thanksgiving Decorations

What do countries do if they don’t have a super smart Jeopardy! champ around to dash our kitschy cute dreams of how adorable our forefathers were? Good thing we’ve got Ken Jennings here in the US of A to bust the myth that no, the pilgrims probably don’t look like the figurines on your dining room table or the outfit your mother made you for the 1st grade play. To the history machine!

Jennings knows just about every darn thing in the entire world (including if Alex Trebek is actually a robot, I bet) and this time he took on the question of pilgrim wardrobes in his Debunker column on Woot.com.

Namely: Did they wear those awfully boring black-and-white ensembles and tall hats with buckles everywhere all the time? Well no, not really.

Jennings explains that the root of this idea likely comes from 17th-century portraits of religious leaders in the Puritan and Separatist movements. Sure, Protestants back then got gussied up in severe black, but for special occasions like say, having their portraits painted. Black was the fanciest color back then because it was the hardest color to dye cloth.

But just like you didn’t always wear that fantastically geometric sweater you’ve got on in your 2nd grade picture every day, neither did the pilgrims wear black all the time.

“In reality, the pilgrims wore black on Sunday, but that’s about it,” Jennings says. “Mayflower cargo records, wills, and other documents reveal that most of their pilgrims’ daily clothes were multicolored: red, brown, yellow, blue, gray, and so on. Those are the colors they would have been wearing at the first Thanksgiving.”

About those awesome hats and shiny buckles? The hats were a real thing, called capotains, but they were (gasp) sans buckles. Buckles weren’t fashionable until decades after the pilgrims left England and were super expensive. It was cheaper to just tie your pants and shoes together, unless there was a Black Friday sale on buckles or something.

That being said, your Thanksgiving decorations are still really adorable.

The Debunker: What Did Pilgrims’ Hats Really Look Like? [Woot.com]