18th Century Layers (1740-1770)

18th century layers appropriate for the upper-middle class lady or noblewoman, 1740-1770. 1. Before the gown, AKA robe, you begin with the basics: a). Linen chemise (e.g. shift) b). Stockings, silk ribbon garters, and shoes (shoes not included in this video) c). Stays (corset) d). Pockets and a "modesty" slip (not included in video) e). Optional cap and fichu (kerchief tucked about the bosom) If a cap is not going to be worn, it's usually best to have the hair done beforehand, but this is largely optional. For this video, her hair is done in the braided style of 1730-1750. 2. The first layer is one of five hip supports seen in the 18th century. The period 1740-1770 commonly used paniers, pocket hoops or (for 1770) bum rolls. A small set of paniers were used here. 3. Next are the petticoats, usually three or four that may be made out of cheap fabric. Two were used here. Authentic petticoats should have drawstrings that tie in front and back. This made them waist-adjustable, crucial for 18th century frugality. 4. If your ensemble includes a decorative silk taffeta or satin petticoat, put that on. This is the last petticoat that goes on before the gown. 5. You fasten a jacket, gown, redingote (riding coat), etc over the stays with pins (buttons were only used for coats during this time). The typical gowns for 1740-1760 were the mantua, robe à la française (French robe, or gown) and in 1770, the l'anglaise and polonaise, besides a variety of jackets. (See below for more on the robe à la française.) 6. Finally, you baste or pin on the "engageantes," the nice lacy things you see on the elbows. Lace was expensive during the 18th c., so the richer you were, the more lace you had (maids, servants had little to none). They were made separate from the gown for easy laundering. Note: The française was made in two ways: with "closed" or "open" fronts. The open fronts were such that they were cut so that a V-shaped opening over the stomach was filled with a piece of decorative fabric called a "stomacher." The popular kinds of stomacher were covered with silk ruched bows or made to imitate the stay lacings seen on poorer folk. Here, she is putting on a gown with a closed front, which needs no stomacher because the fabric was cut to meet in center front. This particular gown was also made with a stand-up Van Dyke collar, which can be seen in paintings by Fragonard and fashion plates. This wasn't a style you'd see every day, but more or less a fancy ball or masquerade gown.


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