The Victoria & Albert Museum writes of early 18th-century fashion:

“In the early 18th century women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train and matching petticoat. The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat and several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat.

To give the figure the required shape a corset was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen and stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching. They fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso and to emphasise the waist. A ‘busk’ or strip of bone, wood or metal was sometimes incorporated into the front of the stays.

Hair was worn close to the head with a small linen cap which sometimes had lace lappets, streamers that hung
either side of a woman’s cap. The cap was covered by a hood or hat for outer wear.”

Portrait of Rich Ingram, 5th Viscount Irwin, and his Wife Anne

Fig. 1 - Jonathan Richardson. Portrait of Rich Ingram, 5th Viscount Irwin, and his Wife Anne, ca. 1715-20. Source: The Pragmatic Costumer blog

Portrait of a Lady

Fig. 2 - Gerrit Duyckinck (New Amesterdam, 1660-c.1713). Portrait of a Lady, ca. 1710. Oil on wood; 104.8 x 83.2 cm (41 1/4 x 32 3/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972.263.1. Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1972. Source: The Met

Portrait of Catherine I

Fig. 3 - Jean-Marc Nattier (French, 1685-1766). Portrait of Catherine I, ca. 1717. Oil on canvas; 142.5 x 110 cm. Saint Petersburg: The State Hermitage Museum, ЭРЖ-1857. 1947: transferred to State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg from State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Source: Hermitage

Anne Spencer (née Churchill), Countess of Sunderland

Fig. 4 - Sir Godfrey Kneller (German, 1646-1723). Anne Spencer (née Churchill), Countess of Sunderland, ca. 1710. Oil on canvas; 125.7 x 101.6 cm (49 1/2 x 40 in). London: National Portrait Gallery, NPG 803. Given by Walter John Pelham, 4th Earl of Chichester, 1888. Source: NPG


The V&A writes of 18th-century menswear:

“At the beginning of the 18th century the male silhouette differed greatly from that of today. A typical outfit consisted of a full-skirted knee-length coat, knee breeches, a vest or long waistcoat (which could be sleeved), a linen shirt with frills and linen underdrawers. Lower legs showed and were an important part of the silhouette. Men wore silk stockings and leather shoes with stacked heels of low or medium height. The whole ensemble would have been topped by a shoulder-length full-bottomed wig and a tricorne (three-cornered) hat with an upturned brim.”

Portrait of a Military Officer

Fig. 1 - Hyacinthe Rigaud (French, 1659–1743). Portrait of a Military Officer, ca. 1710. Oil on canvas; 137.2 x 105.1 cm (54 x 41 3/8 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 59.119. The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Fund, 1959. Source: The Met

King George I

Fig. 2 - Sir Godfrey Kneller (German). King George I, 1714. Oil on canvas; 192.4 x 137.2 cm (75 3/4 x 54 in). London: National Portrait Gallery, NPG 544. Transferred from British Museum, 1879. Source: NPG

James Craggs the Elder

Fig. 3 - Thomas Murray (Scottish, 1663-1735). James Craggs the Elder, ca. 1710. Oil on canvas; 127 x 101.6 cm (50 x 40 in). London: National Portrait Gallery, NPG 1733. Source: NPG


Henry Darnall III (1702-ca.1787)

Fig. 1 - Justus Engelhardt Kühn (German). Henry Darnall III (1702-ca.1787), ca. 1710. Oil on canvas; 137.4 x 112.2 cm. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1912.1.3. Source: Marland Historical Society

Eleanor Darnall (1704-1796)

Fig. 2 - Justus Engelhardt Kühn (German). Eleanor Darnall (1704-1796), ca. 1710. Oil on canvas; 137.79 x 111.79 cm. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1912.1.5. Source: Maryland Historical Society

Charles Carroll of Annapolis

Fig. 3 - Justus Engelhard Kuhn (German). Charles Carroll of Annapolis, ca. 1712. Oil on canvas. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1949.69.3. Source: Maryland Historical Society


Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1710-1719

Europe in 1713. Source: emersonkent.com

  • 1711 – Pompeii discovered
  • 1717 – Watteau’s Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera

Primary/Period Sources

Resources for Fashion History Research

To discover primary/period sources, explore the categories below.
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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.