Throughout the eighteenth century, the basic components of men’s and women’s dress remained the same and, until the last quarter of the century, French fashion with its emphasis on formality and opulence continued to set the standard throughout Europe.

Men wore a three-piece silk or wool suit (coat, or justaucorps, waistcoat, and breeches), which changed in details of cut and fit over the course of one hundred years; women wore a silk or cotton gown, generally open down the front but sometimes closed, over a matching petticoat that was an integral part of the ensemble. Silk designs, especially those for women’s dress, changed more rapidly than the overall silhouette during the century, and each decade presents a distinctive treatment of perennially popular floral and foliate motifs. The fashionable male and female silhouettes at the end of the seventeenth century persisted into the first decade of the eighteenth. The hoop-petticoat, or panier, that would define the expansive shape of women’s dress for most of the century, appeared in England at the end of the first decade and immediately drew negative commentary that would increase significantly as women across the socio-economic spectrum adopted this all-important form of understructure.


Introduced in the 1670s, the mantua, accessorized with a stomacher, a lace neck frill, sleeve ruffles, or engageantes, and a wired headdress known as a fontange, remained the dominant form of dress for women between 1700 and 1709 (Crowston 25, 36-37). A rare surviving example of this type of gown (Fig. 1) dating to about 1708 in the collection of the Costume Institute displays the luxuriant shape of the early eighteenth-century mantua with its exaggerated bustle and long train (Figs. 3-5). The gown is constructed like a kimono from two lengths of silk that extend from the front to the back hem; the excess fullness of the fabric is set into pleats over the shoulders that, as seen here, would have been secured at the waist with a belt or sash (Fig. 4). The lower sleeves and wide cuffs, probably stiffened with pasteboard (leaves of inferior quality paper, pasted together, generally used in bookmaking), are added on, as are pieces at the back hem to create the rounded train (Figs. 3, 5). Deep self-fabric flounces that became fashionable during this decade decorate the matching petticoat (Fig. 2). The two women at the left of a Portrait of a Family in an Interior (Fig. 2) wear mantuas.


Fig. 1 - Designer unknown (British). Mantua, ca. 1708. Silk, metal. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991.6.1a, b. Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1991. Source: The Met

Portrait of a Family in an Interior

Fig. 2 - Nicolas Walraven van Haften (Dutch, 1663–1715). Portrait of a Family in an Interior, about 1700. Oil on canvas; (18 1/4 x 21 7/8 in). Boston: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 1982.139. Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund. Source: MFA Boston


Fig. 3 - Designer unknown (British). Mantua, ca. 1708. Silk, metal. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991.6.1a, b. Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1991. Source: The Met

Underneath this two-piece ensemble, the wearer would have donned a T-shaped white linen chemise and boned stays. The ability to change one’s shift on a daily (in some cases, more frequent) basis was the privilege of the wealthy. During a heat wave in July 1707, Elisabeth Charlotte, Duchesse d’Orléans and sister-in-law to Louis XIV, wrote that she had changed her chemise “eight times in one day, and it was as if they had been dipped into water” (Orléans 167).

The mantua’s heavy bustle sometimes required the support of a pasteboard “rump.” In the 1707 play The Platonick Lady by Susanna Centlivre, Mrs. Turnup, a mantua-maker, presents her client, Mrs. Dowdy—a Somersetshire widow recently arrived in London “to learn Breeding”—with her new “Manto and Petticoat.” After complaining that the seamstress has spoiled the petticoat by cutting it “in a thousand Bits”—Mrs. Dowdy’s maid assures her that these “Furbelows” are the “Fashion”—she inquires “What’s these two pieces of Band Box for?” Mrs. Turnup explains, “T’is Past Board, Madam, for your Ladyship’s Rump” (quoted in Ashton 164-165).

The space between the front opening of the gown would have been filled in with a stomacher—a triangular piece of fabric (woven, embroidered, or embellished with ribbons bows known as an échelle) that was lined with linen or cotton (Figs. 1, 2, 6) (Cunnington 109). The stomacher might have linen tabs that could be pinned to the stays, or it could be secured with lacing through linen strips with eyelet holes inside the fronts of the gown (Cunnington 109).

Barely visible under the hem of the petticoat, high-heeled shoes with pointed toes and knitted silk stockings held up with ribbon garters would have completed the ensemble. Most wealthy women’s shoes were made of silk, not necessarily matching that of the dress; however, an elegant pair of black leather shoes with red leather heels dating to about 1700 in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum are those of a fashionable—rather than a working-class—wearer (Fig. 7). The elongated, slightly upturned toe differed from the squared-off, blunt toe of men’s shoes and represented a gendered distinction in footwear that had not existed prior to the late seventeenth century (Pratt and Woolley 32). The white rand—the narrow edging between the uppers and the sole, usually of leather, but here made of vellum—is a construction feature of women’s shoes through the first half of the eighteenth century (Victoria and Albert Museum).

The Costume Institute’s mantua of salmon-colored silk damask brocaded with polychrome silk and metal threads with oversized flowering baskets, serrated foliage, and paired S-scrolls is characteristic of European silk design at the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Dubbed “bizarre” by textile historian Vilhelm Slomann in 1953, who erroneously believed that their patterns originated in India (Slomann 137-38), these silks display elongated, undulating repeats with exotic, often unidentifiable, motifs and maximize the contrast between the shiny and matte surfaces of satin damask. These dynamic, brilliantly hued fabrics were shown to advantage by the mantua’s uncut panels, joined down the center back, that trailed behind the wearer (Figs. 3, 4). In her three-quarter-length portrait dating to about 1710, the Marchesa Angela Maria Lombardi wears a bizarre silk mantua with its front skirts lined in bright red silk; the blue silk is lavishly brocaded with silver thread (Fig. 8).

While silk mantuas were de rigueur among upper-class women, London newspapers from the first decade of the century confirm that working-class women also wore these gowns in lesser quality fabrics including wool and cotton. On September 24, 1700, The Post Boy reported the recent disappearance of a female servant: “Sharlot Bragg, Servant to Mr. John Woodruff, Peter-street, Westminster, aged about 22 years…[who] wears a brown Stuff Manto [wool mantua] lined with printed Callicoe flowered red, and a dark Damask Pettycoat [sic]…has absented herself from her Master much longer than Leave given…” (Extracts from Notices, n.p.). While Bragg’s mantua was wool lined with cotton, an advertisement in the Daily Courant of October 30, 1706, describes a mantua of cotton lined with wool: “Lost on Thursday, the 28th Instant, from behind a Coach in Holborn…a Deal Box belonging to a Ladies Servant… there was in it a Black and White Callicoe Mantua and Petticoat lined with Blue Stuff…” (Extracts from Notices, n.p).


Fig. 4 - Designer unknown (British). Mantua, ca. 1708. Silk, metal. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991.6.1a, b. Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1991. Source: The Met


Fig. 5 - Designer unknown (British). Mantua, ca. 1708. Silk, metal. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991.6.1a, b. Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1991. Source: The Met


Fig. 6 - Designer unknown (English). Stomacher, 1700-1720. Hand embroidered linen and silk taffeta with silk and silver thread, backed with linen, outlined with grosgrain ribbon and silver cord and braid. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, T.404-1977. Source: V&A

Pair of shoes

Fig. 7 - Designer unknown (English). Pair of shoes, ca. 1700. Leather with vellum rand; modern ribbon added for the latchet fastening. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1124&A-1901. Source: V&A

Portrait of the Marchioness Angela Maria Lombardi

Fig. 8 - Artist unknown (Umbrian). Portrait of the Marchioness Angela Maria Lombardi, 1710. Oil on canvas; (40 15/16 x w: 31 7/8 in). Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 37.400. Source: The Walters

The Fabric Shop

Fig. 9 - Matthijs Naiveu (Dutch, 1647-1726). The Fabric Shop, 1709. Oil on canvas. RKD - Netherlands Institute for Art History, 0000053759. Source: RKD

A Dutch painting of a shop interior from 1709 nicely illustrates the different types of fabrics that would be worn for day and evening (Fig. 9). A fashionably attired woman in a finely striped silk mantua with a pronounced bustle and a heavy, dark wool petticoat inspects a gold-brocaded silk with polychrome flowers, presumably intended for formal dress. Of the three different types of textiles, the plain wool would have been the least expensive and the brocaded silk—hand woven on a drawloom—significantly more costly than the striped silk (Rothstein 23).

The introduction of the mantua in the last decades of the seventeenth century coincided with the change in regulations that allowed seamstresses to make women’s and children’s garments (De Young). As historian Clare Haru Crowston points out in Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675-1791, the mantua “transform[ed] existing patterns of clothing consumption” and seamstresses used this new type of dress that required minimal cutting and shaping “to establish a niche in the high-end of the garment trades and to spread the new taste to other social groups” (Crowston 37, 40).

Although no extant examples of the earliest iterations of the hoop-petticoat, or panier, survive and the first few visual depictions date to the following decade, textual references from Richard Steele’s publication, The Tatler (1709-1711), suggests that these “new-fashioned Petticoats” were introduced in England in 1709—and immediately targeted for their volume, indecency, and the blurring of class boundaries, themes that would persist throughout the century (Chrisman 8). Initially, these skirt supports were bell-shaped and “consisted of three of more graduated hoops of whalebone” inserted into channels of the “light, but sturdy petticoat” (Chrisman 9). In a humorous petition to “Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire, Censor of Great Britain,” that appeared in The Tatler in December 1709, William Jingle, a fictitious coach and sedan chair maker from Westminster, attributes the invention of the hoop-petticoat to “Mrs. Catherine Cross-stitch, mantua maker” and declares that, since “the petticoats of the ladies were too wide for entering into any coach or chair,” he has devised new forms of both of these modes of transport—“a round chair, in the form of a lantern” and a coach into which a lady “was let down from a balcony, and drawn up again by pulleys.” Bickerstaff also acknowledges that he has received a second petition, “signed by several thousands [of women], praying that I would not any longer defer giving judgment in the case of the petticoat, many of them having put off the making new clothes, till such time as they know what verdict will pass upon it” (Aitken).

Louis XIV of France and His Family

Fig. 10 - Attributed to Nicolas de Largillierre (French, 1656-1746). Louis XIV of France and His Family, 1715-20. Oil on canvas. London: The Wallace Collection. Source: Wikimedia Commons

At the French court, women continued to wear the grand habit, comprising a heavily boned pointed bodice with short lace sleeves, a full-length skirt, and a long, separate train, that had become obligatory at Versailles by 1683 (De Marly 89). The length of the train was dictated by the wearer’s status: “11 ells [an ell measured 45 inches] for a queen, 9 ells for a king’s daughter, 7 ells for a king’s granddaughter, 5 ells for a princess of the blood, and 3 ells for a duchess” (De Marly 89). In a letter of 1702, the caustic Duchesse d’Orléans, who was a stickler for etiquette, wrote:

“At Versailles which is considered the royal residence, everyone who comes into the King’s presence or into ours, must be in full Court dress, but at Marly, Meudon, and Saint-Cloud [royal residences where formality was somewhat relaxed], mantuas are worn, as also for travelling. I find Court dress much more convenient than mantuas which I can’t endure.” (quoted in Waugh/Women 113)

Madame de Ventadour, governess to Louis XIV’s great-grandson, the Duc d’Anjou (future Louis XV), wears a black silk velvet grand habit decorated with diamond clasps in a posthumous portrait of the king with three generations of his heirs (Fig. 10).

Women’s hairstyles between 1700 and 1709 were similar to those of the preceding decade with the front hair arranged in curls on either side of the forehead and the back hair in a chignon (Fig. 8). Although the fontange remained in fashion, its shape changed from the tall, forward-tilting rectangle of the 1690s to a more rounded form by the end of the first decade of the eighteenth century, known as a rayon (De Marly 105, 108) (Fig. 11). A drawing by Bernard Picart, Figures for a Galanterie (Fig. 12), ca. 1708, conveys the incipient informality in dress and lifestyle following the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and anticipates the intimate scenes depicted in Jean-Antoine Watteau’s fêtes galantes of the next two decades. The young couple, each holding an open book of music, relaxes in what appears to be a barely sketched outdoor setting. Her loose-fitting mantua and petticoat with deep flounces are similar to the bizarre silk example in the Costume Institute (Fig. 2) and on her head she wears a rayon.

Figures for a Galanterie

Fig. 12 - Bernard Picart (French, 1673-1733). Figures for a Galanterie, 1708. Source: Nicole Kipar

Lace continued as an important status symbol throughout the eighteenth century, as is evident in the portrait of Angela Maria Lombardi (Figs. 8, 11). Yards of ruched needle lace decorate the fronts of her mantua and upper petticoat and form her flowing triple sleeve ruffles. However, around the turn of the century, lace accessories including women’s headdresses, men’s and women’s sleeve ruffles, “cravats, shirt frills and aprons” were briefly replaced by those of finely embroidered linen or muslin (see Fig. 5 in Childrenswear) (Levey 72). Due to their close resemblance to sheer embroidered muslin, soft bobbin laces remained in vogue, while stiffer needle laces were still preferred for formal court wear (Levey 72). An advertisement published in the Daily Courant on April 19, 1705, announced “the Sale by Auction” of a variety of needle and bobbin laces as well as muslin accessories:

“…very fine Mackling Lace [Mechlin, a type of bobbin lace], superfine Mackling Laced Heads, Point [needle lace] Heads, superfine lup’d Laced Cravats, rich point Aprons, superfine Italian aprons…fine grounded Laced Aprons, fine Muslin Neckcloaths, fine grounded Laced Bibs, several fine Laced Hoods, rich Furbellow [flounced] Aprons…fine muslin flower’d Handkerchiefs, black Laced Furbellow Aprons…” (Extracts from Notices, n.p.).


Fig. 11 - Designer unknown. Fontange, Turn of the 17th century. Needle lace, modern linen, silk ribbon and wire. Barnard Castle: The Bowes Museum. Source: The Bowes Museum on Twitter


Marie Adélaïde of Savoy (1685-1712), duchesse de Bourgogne at the age of c. 15

Fig. 1 - Pierre Gobert (French, 1662-1744). Marie Adélaïde of Savoy (1685-1712), duchesse de Bourgogne at the age of c. 15, after 1711. Oil on canvas; (50.7 × 38.5 in). Versailles: Chateaux de Versailles et de Trianon. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie, duchesse de Bourgogne and Dauphine de France

Fig. 2 - Artist unknown. Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie, duchesse de Bourgogne and Dauphine de France, ca. 1697-1700. Source: Reinette

Marie Adélaïde de Savoie (1685-1712) was the eldest daughter of Victor Amadeus II, Duc de Savoie, and of Anne Marie d’Orléans (Fig. 1). Her betrothal at the age of 11 to Louis XIV’s grandson, the Duc de Bourgogne, in 1696, represented an effort by the king to “detach Savoy from the League of Augsburg” and was part of the Treaty of Turin, signed that same year, by which Victor Amadeus agreed to support Louis XIV in the Nine Years’ War (De Marly 95). As soon as the diminutive Marie Adélaïde arrived in France the late fall of 1696, Louis XIV was captivated with her beauty and vivacity. In a letter dated November 8, the Duchesse d’Orléans described “the crush and crowd” that gathered at Fontainebleau for a first glimpse of the young princess:

“Her Grace is rather small for her age but she has a very pretty and slender figure like a dainty doll; she has pretty blond hair, and a lot of it, black eyes and eyebrows, very long and beautiful eyelashes; her skin is smooth but fairly dark, her little nose neither pretty nor ugly, her mouth large and thick-lipped; in a word, a true Austrian mouth and chin. She walks well and has a fine and graceful demeanor…” (Orléans 95)

A hand-colored print dating to about 1697-1700 shows the Duchesse de Bourgogne wearing a fashionably trained mantua and petticoat, a stomacher, multi-tiered sleeve ruffles, a fontange with a pronounced forward tilt, several mouches (black silk or velvet patches) on her face, and gloves, and carrying a nosegay and a folding fan (Fig. 2). These prints depicting members of the French court and men and women “of quality” were published in large numbers in the late seventeenth century. They served, in part, to communicate fashion news and to present idealized depictions of the upper classes and were not necessarily based on firsthand observation by the artists. The large-scale ornate pattern of the Duchesse’s dress fabric does not likely represent an actual silk, but its overall richness is commensurate with the status of the king’s adored granddaughter-in-law.

Marriage of Louis, Duc de Bourgogne and Marie-Adelaide de Savoie.

Fig. 3 - Antoine Dieu (French, 1662-1727). Marriage of Louis, Duc de Bourgogne and Marie-Adelaide de Savoie., 1697. Oil on canvas. Versailles: Chateaux de Versailles et de Trianon. Source: Art Resource

The print’s caption notes the date of the wedding of the Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne—December 7, 1697. The royal nuptials were an opportunity for an over-the-top display of sartorial splendor recorded in a tapestry cartoon dating to 1710 (Fig. 3). The bride wore a grand habit of silver tissue, while the groom wore an embroidered black velvet suit in the style of the mid-seventeenth century, which was customary for this kind of occasion. The king paid for the bride’s dowry and her trousseau, which included “15 dresses in assorted brocades, 7 embroidered dresses, 15 embroidered petticoats and 12 underskirts” (De Marly 101). For one of the balls in celebration of the wedding, the Duchesse wore “a cloth of gold grand habit bedecked with the best diamonds in the crown jewels” (De Marly 100) and for another ball, her gown was of “black velvet covered with diamonds, while her firmament [jeweled pins worn in the hair] was so full of diamonds and pearls that it dazzled the eyes” (De Marly 101). In 1702, the Marquis de Dangeau noted the consequences of such heavy clothing for Marie Adélaïde’s slight figure:

“The Duchess de Bourgogne lay down on her bed exhausted by the weight of the gown she wore yesterday at the Comedy because it had been overloaded with too many jewels.” (quoted in Waugh/Women 113)

A late seventeenth-century print entitled La Joüaillier from a series depicting various trades suggests the kind of brilliant display of gems seen at the court (Fig. 4)

A portrait of the duchesse by Jean-Baptiste Santerre from 1709 shows her in the gardens of Versailles in a court dress decorated with an impressive set of jeweled brooches on the bodice front (Fig. 5). The silk is heavily brocaded with silver metal thread in a dense, stylized floral pattern. Santerre modified the gown’s sleeves: rather than short tight sleeves which were characteristic of the grand habit, the artist has depicted loose, flowing sleeves more associated with allegorical paintings of female sitters that were popular during the period.

Around the same time, Pierre Gobert portrayed the Duchesse de Bourgogne in a tailored riding habit of red wool trimmed with gold galloon influenced by menswear, that women wore on horseback or when following the hunt (Fig. 6). Her thigh-length jacket clearly derives from men’s coats (Fig. 7) with its center-front button closure, wide cuffs, pleated skirts, and low, horizontal pockets and her gold waistcoat—a few inches shorter than the jacket—is just visible underneath the lower front skirts. Her high, center-parted hair mimics the shape of men’s wigs and her accessories comprising a cravat tied à la Steinkirk with a black silk bowknot and a black, three-cornered hat also take their cue from masculine attire. The trained skirt that would have fully covered her legs and feet while sitting sidesaddle is a concession to female propriety that persisted for equestriennes until the early twentieth century. More practical and hardwearing than silk (or cotton) gowns, riding habits were also worn for traveling throughout the eighteenth century.

In the privacy of her apartments, Marie Adélaïde’s wardrobe was more relaxed, but stylish nonetheless. In his memoirs on the reign of Louis XIV, the Marquis de Sources describes the Duchesse de Bourgogne wearing the currently fashionable andrienne—a type of dressing gown—in 1710:

“The King went again in the evening to see the Duchesse de Bourgogne whom he found resting on a couch wearing an andrienne (this was a robe de chambre undraped and with a long train; it was named after a dress of this style worn by an actress in the Comedy Andrienne).” (quoted in Waugh/Women 113)

The stage—and its leading actresses—often inspired new fashions from the late seventeenth through the eighteenth century.

Following the death of her father-in-law, le Grand Dauphin, in April 1711, Marie Adélaïde’s husband became Dauphin and she became Dauphine. Sadly, she, her husband, and the elder of their two sons died from measles within a few weeks of each other in 1712, plunging the king and the court into mourning. Their one surviving son, the Duc d’Anjou, the future Louis XV, would inherit the throne at the age of 5 in 1715 upon the death of Louis XIV.

La Joaillière

Fig. 4 - Nicolas de Larmessin II (French, 1645–1725). La Joaillière, ca. 1700. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie, duchesse de Bourgogne

Fig. 5 - Jean-Baptiste Santerre (French, 1651-1717). Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie, duchesse de Bourgogne, 1709. Oil on canvas. Versailles: Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, MV 2117. Source: Centre de recherche du château de Versailles

Marie Adelaide of  Savoy,Dauphine of France

Fig. 6 - Pierre Gobert (French, 1662-1744). Marie Adelaide of Savoy,Dauphine of France, 1704. Source: Reinette

Coat and breeches

Fig. 7 - Designer unknown (English). Coat and breeches, 1705-1715. Wool, silk, cotton yarn, linen yarn, linen, linen thread, silver thread, silver purl; hand-woven broadcloth, silk twill, fustian and buckram. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, T.327&A-1982. Source: V&A


Men’s suits of the first decade of the eighteenth century closely resembled those of the 1690s in cut and decoration (Fig. 1 in Womenswear). The coat reached to just below the knees, almost completely concealing the full-cut breeches. The excess fullness at the sides, which would increase between about 1700 and about 1745, began to be set into pleats at this time (Waugh/Men 52). The coat’s center-front button closure extended from the round neckline to the hem and its deep, wide cuffs ended above the wrists, revealing the shirt frill (Fig. 1). The cuffs could have a slit at the back, a style known as “open sleeves” (Fig. 1) or “round [closed] cuffs” (Cunnington 56). Pockets were either vertical or horizontal; the latter style, with gently scalloped flaps, would become the dominant form throughout the eighteenth century (Fig. 1) (Cunnington 52).

Like its seventeenth-century predecessor, the early eighteenth-century waistcoat was similar in construction to the coat, but it had closer-fitting sleeves, less fullness in in the skirts, and it was several inches shorter than the coat, ending above the knee (Waugh/Men 54-55) (Fig. 1).  Although matching suits conveyed “propriety of dress” (quoted in Cunnington 69), men often wore contrasting waistcoats—a personal choice that remained acceptable throughout the eighteenth century (Figs. 2, 3). Matching waistcoats were generally the rule for court or formal wear as well as for riding; the former were correspondingly rich, while riding waistcoats were more practical (Cunnington 71).

Fashionable men rolled their knitted stockings up over the bottom of their breeches (Cunnington 83) and these often matched the color of the suit, although white stockings were also worn. Shoes were generally of black leather shoes with square toes and high heels (red heels were worn at the French court, among the aristocracy, and by men who were considered fops) and the red-lined tongues that extended to the ankle were turned over the buckled latchets (See Fig. 1 in womenswear).

The T-shaped, white linen shirt was the primary undergarment for men and its cut remained the same throughout the eighteenth century. Made from a full selvage width of fabric with a keyhole shape cut out for the head, rectangular pieces added to create the lower sleeves, and a separate band collar and cuffs, the mid-thigh length shirt might be finished with a center front frill and cuffs of sheer muslin or lace (Fig. 3). The cravat, a long, rectangular piece of white linen or muslin was tied around the neck with the two ends left plain or knotted hanging over the chest (Fig. 2). Wealthy men often added lace ends to their cravats—a luxurious finish to this ubiquitous accessory (Figs. 3, 4).

On November 10, 1702, The Post Boy published the following announcement:

“Lost from behind the Rochester Stage-Coach on Sunday night last, the 8th instant, between London Bridge and Long Acre, a round Hair Trunk, containing several Cloaths belonging to His Grace the Duke of Ormond, viz. one Scarlet Suit, richly embroider’d with Gold; one Grey Cloath Suit with Steel Buttons; with Shirts, Periwigs, and other things belonging to His Grace’s Wardrobe, of considerable value.  Whoever shall give notice of the said Trunk and Goods therein, at His Grace’s House in St. James’s Square, so as they may be had again, shall immediately receive 10 Guineas Reward.”

This partial list of lost garments and accessories and the amount of the reward offered—a huge sum in 1702 that translates to over £1,000 in today’s currency—attest to the extensive wardrobes required by men of fashion as well as the monetary value of men’s (and women’s) clothes that, whether lost or stolen, were often pawned for cash. The duke’s “Scarlet Suit” may have been silk, since his grey suit is specifically identified as “cloath,” or wool. While the latter was used widely for everyday wear, it was also considered appropriate for formal or court wear, if embellished with metal-thread embroidery (Cunnington 71). On February 11, 1708, the Daily Courant alerted readers to a heavily embroidered wool suit that was stolen out of a house in Bond Street, London: “a new Cinnamon Colour Cloth Coat, Wastcoat and Breeches, Embroider’d with Silver 4 or 5 inches deep down before and on the Sleeves and round the Pocket-holes and the Pockets and Knees of the Breeches: they are lin’d with a Sky Blue Silk” (Extracts from Notices, n.p.). The steel buttons on the Duke of Ormond’s grey wool suit were among the many types of metal used on men’s suits, including “gold, silver, gilt, white metal, dark metal, plate, pewter…wire, [and] brass” (Cunnington 47).

Standing man, the profile body

Fig. 1 - Antoine Watteau (French, 1684-1721). Standing man, the profile body, ca. 1705-10. Source: Galerie Xavier Seydoux

James Craggs the Elder

Fig. 2 - Thomas Murray (English, 1675-1734). James Craggs the Elder, ca. 1710. London: National Portrait Gallery, NPG 1733. Henry Armstrong, dealer, Darlington, from whom purchased 1914.. Source: NPG

Portrait of a gentleman

Fig. 3 - Nicolas de Largillière (French, 1656-1746). Portrait of a gentleman, ca. 1710. San Francisco: California Palace of the Legion of Honor. museum purchase: Archer M. Huntington fund. Source: Flickr

Cravat End

Fig. 4 - Maker unknown (French). Cravat End, 1699. Linen. New York: Cooper Hewitt, 1962-50-18-b. Bequest of Richard Cranch Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf. Source: Cooper Hewitt

James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope

Fig. 5 - Sir Godfrey Kneller (English, 1646-1723). James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope, ca. 1710. Oil on canvas. London: National Portrait Gallery, NPG 3225. Given by the Art Fund, 1945. Source: NPG

Anthony Hamilton

Fig. 6 - After unknown artist. Anthony Hamilton, ca. 1700. Oil on canvas, based on a work of ca. 1700; (29 in x 24 1/2 in). London: National Portrait Gallery, NPG 1467. Purchased, 1907. Source: NPG

Portrait of a Gentleman

Fig. 7 - Nicolas de Largillière (French, 1656-1746). Portrait of a Gentleman, fourth quarter of 17th century or first quarter of 18th century. Oil. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The reference to the duke’s multiple “periwigs” indicates the custom among wealthy men to possess wigs in different styles intended for both formal and informal occasions. These indispensable accessories that signified male authority and dignity were costly—the most expensive were of human hair but horsehair and goat’s hair were also used; in 1705, a full-bottomed wig (undoubtedly of human hair) was valued at £22 (Cunnington 95). The full-bottomed wig that had come into vogue in the late seventeenth century remained popular in the first decade of the eighteenth century; fashionable colors were “white, flaxen, brown, grey, grizzle (iron grey), [and] black,” but powdered wigs—usually white or grey—were also worn, a trend that would persist throughout most of the eighteenth century (Cunnington 95) (Figs. 5, 6, 7, 8). In his “Portrait of a Beau” from Letters from the Dead to the Living (1702), Thomas Brown mocked the fop’s enormous wig: “His periwig was large enough to have loaded a camel, and he bestowed upon it at least a bushel of powder, I warrant you” (quoted in Waugh/Men 101).

Other important accessories for men included a three-cornered black hat made of beaver, left plain or trimmed with gold or silver galloon or white feathers (the latter were associated with military men), a sword, and a cane (Cunnington 87-88) (Fig. 1). Worn on the left side, the sword hung from a belt under the coat with the point protruding through the center back vent, which was left unstitched (Waugh 52). Generally held rather than worn on the body, canes allowed men of fashion to strike elegant poses (Fig. 1). Often made in expensive materials (particularly the head of the cane), they were particularly associated with beaux (fashionable men). In addition to his oversized wig, Thomas Brown’s beau is distinguished by “his cane, that hung negligently down on a string from his right arm, [and] trailed most harmoniously against the pebbles” (quoted in Waugh/Men 101).

Henry Thompson

Fig. 8 - Artist unknown. Henry Thompson, ca. 1705–1715. Oil on canvas; 76.2 x 63.5 cm. York: York Art Gallery, YORAG : 1150. gift from Mrs V. I. C. Knox, 1968. Source: Art UK


(by Summer Lee)
At the start of the eighteenth century, attitudes about childhood were beginning to change (Nunn 98). This shift was sparked by new philosophies emerging from the Age of Enlightenment. For example, in his 1693 publication, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, John Locke challenged long-held beliefs about best practices for child-rearing.

However, this was not yet reflected in childrenswear of the first decade. During this time, traditions for childrenswear were not unlike those of the previous century.

Infants were swaddled, as was the long-held European tradition (Tortora and Marcketti). Swaddling was the practice of tightly binding an infants’ limbs, so as to immobilize them (Callahan). The Victoria and Albert Museum possesses a finely embroidered swaddling band dated circa 1700-1750 (Fig. 1). Its elaborate floral embroidery indicates that this was a fashionable “outer swaddling band” (Victoria and Albert Museum).

In the early eighteenth century, babies typically outgrew the swaddling phase between two and four months (Callahan). They were then dressed in “slips” or “long clothes” (Callahan). These were ensembles with a fitted bodice and a very long, full skirt (Fig.  2) (Nunn 99). Babies also wore tight-fitting caps on their heads.

Once a child was becoming mobile, they transitioned into “short clothes” (Callahan). These ensembles allowed for greater mobility because skirts were cut at the ankle (Callahan). Bodices opened at the back and were boned or otherwise stiffened (Callahan). At this phase, toddlers typically had “leading strings” attached to the back of their bodice (Magidson). Leading strings were streamers of fabric used to protect young children from falling or wandering off (“Childhood”).

Swaddling band

Fig. 1 - Designer unknown (French). Swaddling band, 1700-1750. Hand embroidered linen. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, B.13-2001. Source: V&A

Portrait of a Baby

Fig. 2 - Mary Beale (English, 1633-1699). Portrait of a Baby, 1690-1730. Oil on canvas; 77.5 cm x 65 cm. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, B.447-1994. Source: V&A

When boys were deemed mature enough, they underwent a rite of passage known as “breeching” (Reinier). Breeching referred to the first time a boy wore bifurcated breeches or trousers, symbolizing his entrance into manhood. In the first half of the eighteenth century, boys were typically breeched between the ages of four and seven (Callahan). From that point on, boys during this time followed menswear fashions. This is demonstrated in a 1707 portrait of Garton Orme, where he is approximately eleven years old (Fig. 3).

Girls, however, did not fully transition into adult dress until their early teens. As girls aged, elements of fashionable womenswear were incorporated into their dress. For example, the girl depicted in Figure 4 wears an ensemble resembling a mantua. However, her bodice is back-opening and she wears a white apron — characteristics unique to childhood dress. It must be noted that the painting also features an enslaved African boy, who wears a European-style ensemble and a metal collar around his neck.

Garton Orme at the Spinet

Fig. 3 - Jonathan Richardson the elder (English, 1667-1745). Garton Orme at the Spinet, ca. 1707. Oil on canvas; 122 cm x 96.5 cm. Bath: The Holburne Museum, A375. bequeathed by Sir Orme Sargent, 1962. Source: Art UK

Girl with a Dog

Fig. 4 - Philip Vilain (Dutch, active 1694–1717). Girl with a Dog, 1708. Oil on canvas; 108.7cm x 82.5 cm. Barnard Castle: The Bowes Museum, B.M.874. bequeathed by the Founders, 1885. Source: Art UK

Catherine-Eléonore-Eugènie de Béthisy (1707-1767), future princess of Montauban, and her brother Eugène Eléonore de Béthisy (1709-1781)

Fig. 5 - Alexis Simon Belle (French, 1674-1734). Catherine-Eléonore-Eugènie de Béthisy (1707-1767), future princess of Montauban, and her brother Eugène Eléonore de Béthisy (1709-1781), 1708. Oil on canvas. Versailles: Chateaux de Versailles et de Trianon. Source: Art Resource


Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1700-1709

Western Europe, 1700. Source: Emerson Kent

  • 1701 – Kingdom of Prussia declared under King Frederick I.
  • 1701 – Beginning of The War of the Spanish Succession, involving most of continental Europe.
  • 1702 – Beginning of the Camisard Rebellion in France.
  • 1703 – Saint Petersburg is founded by Peter the Great; it is the Russian capital until 1918.
  • 1706 – War of the Spanish Succession: French troops defeated at the Battles of Ramilies and Turin.

Primary/Period Sources

Resources for Fashion History Research

To discover primary/period sources, explore the categories below.
Have a primary source to suggest?  Or a newly digitized periodical/book to announce?  Contact us!

Etiquette Books (Digitized)

Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Eugenia Stanhope, and Philip Stanhope. Letters Written by the Late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, to His Son, Philip Stanhope Esq; Late Envoy Extraordinary at the Court of Dresden: Together with Several Other Pieces on Various Subjects. Dublin: Printed for E. Lynch [etc.], 1774. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008961515.
Courtin, Antoine de. Nouveau Traité de La Civilité, Qui Se Pratique En France Parmi Les Honnêtes Gens. Paris: Durand, 1750. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001921298.
Della Casa, Giovanni. Galateo: Or, A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners. London: Printed for J. Dodsley, 1774. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000704165.
La Manière de Converser Avec Les Honnestes Gens. Cologne: Schouten, 1701. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011159361.

Secondary Sources

Also see the 18th-century overview page for more research sources… or browse our Zotero library.


Cullen, Oriole. “Eighteenth-Century European Dress.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/eudr/hd_eudr.htm.
Glasscock, Jessica. “Eighteenth-Century Silhouette and Support.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/18sil/hd_18sil.htm.
Victoria and Albert Museum. “Introduction to 18th-Century Fashion,” January 25, 2011. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/i/introduction-to-18th-century-fashion/.
“Looking at Eighteenth-Century Clothing,” n.d. http://www.history.org/history/clothing/intro/clothing.cfm.
Watt, Melinda. “Textile Production in Europe: Silk, 1600–1800.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/txt_s/hd_txt_s.htm.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The Decoration of Men’s Fashion in Eighteenth-Century France,” n.d. https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/2015/elaborate-embroidery.

Ashelford, Jane, and Andreas Einsiedel. The Art of Dress: Clothes and Society, 1500-1914. London: National Trust, 1996. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/759883168.
Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment. Expanded ed. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1987. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/979316852.
Brown, Susan, ed. Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style. New York: DK Publishing, 2012. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/840417029.
Edwards, Lydia. How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/988370049.
Fukai, Akiko, ed. Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century. Köln: Taschen, 2006. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/857267477.
Hart, Avril, and Susan North. Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries. London: V&A Publications, 1998. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/170891633.
Hart, Avril, Susan North, Richard Davis, and Leonie Davis. Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publications, 2009. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/846177973.
Hill, Daniel Delis. History of World Costume and Fashion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/768100950.
Hollander, Anne. Fabric of Vision: Dress and Drapery in Painting. London: National Gallery, 2002. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/930256016.
Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/450347616.
Ribeiro, Aileen. Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe, 1715-1789. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/978716760.
Ribeiro, Aileen. The Gallery of Fashion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/500993037.
Ribeiro, Aileen. A Visual History of Costume: The Eighteenth Century. 4. London: Batsford, 1983. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/436095052.
Rodini, Elizabeth, Elissa Weaver, and Kristen Ina Grimes. A Well-Fashioned Image: Clothing and Costume in European Art, 1500-1850. Chicago: The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 2002. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/694844989.
Takeda, Sharon Sadako, Kaye Durland Spilker, Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Clarissa Esguerra, and Nicole LaBouff. Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915. New York: DelMonico Books/Prestel, 2010. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/971876353.
Tortora, Phyllis G., and Sara B. Marcketti. Survey of Historic Costume. Sixth edition. New York: Fairchild Books, 2015. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/972500782.
Vincent, Susan J., and Peter McNeil, eds. A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion: The Age of Enlightenment (1650-1800). London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/967107605.
Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Men’s Clothes, 1600-1900. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1964. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/927414537.
Waugh, Norah, and Margaret Woodward. The Cut of Women’s Clothes, 1600-1930. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/894728161.
“1700-1709 Men’s Fashion,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1709-mens-fashion/.
“1700-1709 Women’s Fashion,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1709-womens-fashion/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Accessories,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-accessories/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Bags & Purses,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-bags-purses/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Children’s Clothing,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-childrens-clothing/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Fabrics & Textiles,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-fabrics-textiles/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Fashion Dolls,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-fashion-dolls/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Footwear,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-footwear/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Headwear,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-womens-headwear/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Jewelry,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-jewelry/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Men’s Headwear,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-mens-headwear/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Mitts & Gloves,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-mitts-gloves/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Pockets,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-pockets/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Stays & Petticoats,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-stays-petticoats/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Stomachers,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-stomachers/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Undated Men’s Clothing,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-mens-clothing/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Undated Portraits of Men,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-portraits-of-men/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Undated Portraits of Women,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-portraits-of-women/.
Pocket Museum. “1700-1799 Undated Women’s Clothing,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-womens-clothing/.
“18th Century Fashion 1700s-1730s,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/lucindabrant/18th-century-fashion-1700s-1730s/.
“Costume in Art - 18th Century,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/maellen/costume-in-art-18th-century/.
Museum at FIT. “Fashion History: 18th Century,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/museumatfit/fashion-history-18th-century/.
“Historic Costume - 18th Century,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/maellen/historic-costume-18th-century/.
“Style: Rococo, 18th Century,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/marquiselem/style-rococo-18th-century/.