Wikipedia summarizes the style of the first half of the 18th century:

Fashion in the period 1700–1750 in European and European-influenced countries is characterized by a widening silhouette for both men and women following the tall, narrow look of the 1680s and 90s. Wigs remained essential for men of substance, and were often white; natural hair was powdered to achieve the fashionable look. Distinction was made in this period between full dress worn at court and for formal occasions, and undress or everyday, daytime clothes. As the decades progressed, fewer and fewer occasions called for full dress, which had all but disappeared by the end of the century.”

Anna Maria Luisa and her husband, Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine

Fig. 1 - Jan Frans van Douven (Netherlandish, 1656-1727). Anna Maria Luisa and her husband, Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, before 1708. Oil on canvas; 243 × 182 cm (95.7 × 71.7 in). Florence: Uffizi Gallery, Inv. 1890, Nr. 2738.. Source: Wikimedia


Fig. 2 - Designer unknown (British). Mantua, 1708. Silk, metal. New York: The Met, 1991.6.1a, b. Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1991. Source: The Met

Portrait of Angela Maria Lombardi

Fig. 3 - Artist unknown (Venetian). Portrait of Angela Maria Lombardi, 1710. Oil; 104 x 81 cm. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 37.400. Source: The Walters Art Museum


Fig. 4 - Designer unknown (British). Mantua, 1710. Silk. Shrewsbury Museums. Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1991. Source: Darwin Country


As for menswear, Wikipedia summarizes:

“The male suit, also known as the habit, made of three parts: the justaucorps, a jacket, and breeches. In the early 18th century the jacket continued to have a full skirt. Fabrics for men were primarily silks, velvets, and brocades, with woolens used for the middle class and for sporting costumes. In the early 18th century, men’s shoes continued to have a squared toe, but the heels were not as high. From 1720-1730, the heels became even smaller, and the shoes became more comfortable, no longer containing a block toe. The shoes from the first half of the century often contained an oblong buckle usually embedded with stones. Upper class men often wore a cane as part of their outfits, suspending it by a loop from one of their waistcoat buttons to allow their hands to properly hold snuff-boxes or handkerchiefs. The cane was thus less functional and rather for the sake of fashion.”

Sir Isaac Newton

Fig. 1 - James Thronhill (English, 1675-1734). Sir Isaac Newton, 1709. Oil on canvas. Lincolnshire: Woolsthrope Manor. Source: Wikipedia


Fig. 2 - Designer unknown. Justaucorps, 1710. Silk. Saint Petersburg: Hermitage Museum. Source: Gentlemen of Fortune

A Draper's Shop

Fig. 6 - Matthijs Naiveu (Dutch, 1647-1726). A Draper's Shop, 1709. Oil painting; 53 × 62 cm. Source: Museum de Lakenhal


Wikipedia also mentions childrenswear in that period:

“Toddler boys and girls wore low-necked gowns. Leading strings—narrow straps of fabric attached to the gown at the shoulder—functioned as a sort of leash to keep the child from straying too far or falling as they learned to walk. Children older than toddlers continued to wear clothing which was in many respects simply a smaller version of adult clothing. Although it is often said that children wore miniature versions of adult clothing, this is something of a myth. Girls wore back-fastening gowns, trimmed much more simply than women’s. The skirt of a girl’s gown was not split down the front, as women’s typically were.Girls did not wear jackets or bedgowns. Boys wore shirts, breeches, waistcoats and coats a man would, but often wore their necks open, and the coat was fitted and trimmed differently from a man’s, and boys often went bareheaded. During some decades of the 18th Century, boys’ shirts and coats had different collars and cuffs than a man’s. Even if the size is not apparent, it is usually possible to tell a child’s garment from an adult’s.”

There aren’t, however, many historical images of childrenswear during this decade.

Portrait of Eleonor Darnhall

Fig. 7 - Justus Engelhardt Kühn (German). Portrait of Eleonor Darnhall, 1710. Oil painting; 137.79 x 111.79 cm (54 x 44 in). Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society. Source: Wikipedia


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

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Etiquette Books (Digitized)

Secondary Sources

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