OVERVIEW

Womenswear

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

Fashion Icon: 

Menswear

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

CHILDREN’S WEAR

Leading into the eighteenth century, attitudes about childhood were changing (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, that was not reflected in children’s wear of the first half of the century. In the 1710s, traditions for children’s wear were not unlike those of the previous decade — or 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; 340.5 cm x 12.5 cm. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, B.13-2001. Source: Victoria and Albert Museum

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: Victoria and Albert Museum

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 portraiture of the time. An American portrait circa 1710 depicts eight-year-old Henry Darnall III in fashionable masculine finery (Fig. 3). Standing behind Darnall is an enslaved African boy wearing a modest coat and a metal collar — “a symbol of servitude reminiscent of the shackles that constrained slaves during their voyage from Africa” (Roark 2003, 73). It should be noted that this is the earliest known depiction of an enslaved African in American painting (Roark 2014, 391). A British double portrait from eight years later also depicts five-year-old Edward Harpur in a menswear ensemble (Fig. 4).

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. An American portrait circa 1710 depicts six-year-old Eleanor Darnall wearing an ensemble that resembles fashionable woman’s Mantua (Fig. 5). However, the ensemble includes characteristics unique to childhood dress: Eleanor’s bodice is back-opening and she wears a white apron. This also applies to Catherine Harpur’s ensemble in the British double portrait circa 1718, although her age is unknown (Fig. 4).

Henry Darnall III (1702-ca.1787)

Fig. 3 - 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

Edward Harpur (1713 – 1761) and his Sister Catherine Harpur, later Lady Gough (d.1740) as Children

Fig. 4 - John Verelst (Dutch, 1648-1734). Edward Harpur (1713 – 1761) and his Sister Catherine Harpur, later Lady Gough (d.1740) as Children, 1718. Oil on canvas; 142 cm x 112 cm. Derbyshire: Calke Abbey, NT 290279. Source: National Trust Collections

Eleanor Darnall (1704-1796)

Fig. 5 - 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

References:

Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1710-1719
Rulers:

Europe in 1713. Source: emersonkent.com

Events:
  • 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.
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.

Online

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.

Books/Articles
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.
Pinterest
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/.
“1710-1719 Men’s Fashion,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1710-1719-mens-fashion/.
“1710-1719 Women’s Fashion,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1710-1719-womens-fashion/.
“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/.