The Costumer's Manifesto: The Cut of Women's Clothes 1700-1800
The Cut of Women'sClothes 1700-1800
The style ofWomens garments in the 18th Century reflect the improving status of women insociety. While the mantua
of the early 18th Century was a rather simple limp garment composed of two lengths offabric pinch pleated at the waist with wide soft sleeves sewn in, the mantua was graduallystiffened, decorated and expanded with hoops called panniers
until, by mid/century it had been stylized into the Robe de Francaise a doll-cake-likestructure that insured that a woman took up three times as much space as a man and alwayspresented an imposing and ultra feminine spectacle.
After 1760, womenbegan to expand vertically as well, raising their hair with pads and pomade to a heightthat only a man on stilts could hope to emulate.
After 1780, afashion for Rousseauesque naturalism took over and women adopted more "natural"looking fashions which still took up a considerable amount of space, but emphasized thenatural sexual characteristics of the female figure with padded busts and bottoms andriots of cascading hair.
The 1790s sawwomens dress lose its artificially supported dignity in favor of comfort andnaturalism. Not to be unnoticed however, late 18th Century women transferred theiremphasis from splendor to sex and discarded not only their false rumps but their underwearas well. The woman of 1800 proudly displayed the strength of her femininity with as muchforce as her mid-century predecessor.
File:GeneralMcclellanFig182-185.gifFigures from McClellan1702-1725: A gentleman wearing a"Roquelaure" cloak and a fur muff c.1702-1714, a lady wearing a yellow gown of1714-1727 (back of dress in plate above), a lady in a c. 1720 green brocade gown nowhoused in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the gentleman on the right is wearing the coatshown in the plate above, c. 1714-1727.
Plate from McClellan: Left to Right: A plain moiré silkgown worn in Massachusetts c. 1725, A gown made of imported Chinese silk brocade worn bythe sister of the Governor of Massachusetts around 1735, a gentleman's full dress suit ofaround 1740, worn with a solitaire bow tie, A green silk taffeta gown worn in Philadelphiaaround 1740.
AmericanWomen's gowns shown in McClellan: Left-1752 wedding gown of a wealthy land owner'sdaughter from White Marsh Pennsylvania, left center- gown worn by Mrs. Faithful Hubbard inMassachusetts in 1750, right center- A green silk taffeta gown (same as above plate) wornin Philadelphia around 1740, with different accessories and petticoat of the same period,right- the same gown as seen from the back.
(V&A Costume Collection)
1760-1776plates from McClellan: Rear view of the suit of uncut velvet worn by Robert Livingston ofNew York c. 1760, Back view of an American white satin wedding gown of 1760 (front viewbelow, pattern on
18th century pattern page), Everydaycostume of a young lady of 1770-1776 made of chintz, suit for an elderly American man ofbusiness worn in Germantown, PA in the 1770's.
McClellanplates of 1760-1776: Light blue lutestring gown worn by Mrs. St. Clair,1760, Suit of darksatin worn by Robert Livingston, 1760 Wedding dress of Mrs. St. Clair, a suit of uncutvelvet worn by Robert Livingston.
Two versions of the Polonaise, seen worn at Ranelagh, 1775, from Fairholt.
Americancostumes of 1778-1790 from McClellan: Suit worn at the French court in 1778 by WilliamWest of Philadelphia, gown in the French style popular during the Revolution,Suit of drabcloth lined with green silk based on a print of 1786, dress of 1790.
Two portraits of other members ofthe French Royal Family c.1780.
a fashionplate of c.1790
An English court dress struggles in vain to look fashionably Neo-Classical with it'srequired, old fashioned hoop beneath. All the rest of Europe had discarded the hoop after1790. From Fairholt.
American dressof 1790-1800 from McClellan: man in a brown broadcloth "shad-belly" coat worn bya Mr. Johnson of Germantown, PA, c. 1790, mauve crepe gown worn by Mrs. Sartori, dress offine glazed cambric worn by Mme. Chevalier, c. 1797, man in the style of 1800, Muslindress worn by Deborah Logan of Philadelphia, 1797.
The History of Underclothes The History of Underclothes
Corsets and Crinolines Corsets and Crinolines