Wikipedia writes of 1750s fashion and portraiture:

“Women: Court dress included elaborate and intricate styles influenced by Rococo; hoop skirts; panniers; corsets; petticoats; stays; conical torso shape with large hips; “standardized courtly bodies and faces” with little individuality.

French: Elaborate court dress, colorful,decorative, portraiture inside.

English: Simple and practical, inexpensive durable fabrics, outdoor lifestyle, portraiture outside.”

Mr and Mrs Andrews

Fig. 1 - Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727 - 1788). Mr and Mrs Andrews, ca. 1750. Oil on canvas; 69.8 x 119.4 cm. London: National Gallery, NG6301. Bought with contributions from The Pilgrim Trust, The Art Fund, Associated Television Ltd, and Mr and Mrs W. W. Spooner, 1960. Source: The National Gallery

Robe à la française

Fig. 2 - Designer unknown (English). Robe à la française, ca. 1750. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum. Source: Pinterest

Woman's dress (Robe à la française) with Matching Stomacher and Petticoat

Fig. 3 - Designer unknown (French). Woman's dress (Robe à la française) with Matching Stomacher and Petticoat, ca. 1755-1760. Chinese export silk-brocaded satin, silk and silk chenille looped fringe; center back length: 160 cm, waist: 59.7 cm (center back length: 63 inches, waist: 23.5 inches). Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1988-83-1a--c. Purchased with the John D. McIlhenny Fund, the John T. Morris Fund, the Elizabeth Wandell Smith Fund, and with funds contributed by Mrs. Howard H. Lewis and Marion Boulton Stroud, 1988. Source: The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Dress, Mantua, Bodice, Train

Fig. 4 - Designer unknown (British). Dress, Mantua, Bodice, Train, 1750 - 1770. Silk brocade, gold, linen. Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland, K.2013.67.1. Source: National Museum of Scotland

Portrait of a Woman in Dark Blue

Fig. 5 - Arthur Devis (British, English, (1712–1787)). Portrait of a Woman in Dark Blue, ca. 1750. Oil on canvas. Birmingham: Birmingham Museums, 1953P457. Source: Birmingham Museums


Wikipedia writes:

“Men: Coat; waistcoat: breeches; large cuffs; more attention on individual pieces of the suit; wigs for formal occasions; long and powdered hair”

“Throughout the period, men continued to wear the coat, waistcoat and breeches of the previous period. However, changes were seen in both the fabric used as well as the cut of these garments. More attention was paid to individual pieces of the suit, and each element underwent stylistic changes. Under new enthusiasms for outdoor sports and country pursuits, the elaborately embroidered silks and velvets characteristic of “full dress” or formal attire earlier in the century gradually gave way to carefully tailored woollen “undress” garments for all occasions except the most formal. This more casual style reflected the dominating image of “nonchalance.” The goal was to look as fashionable as possible with seemingly little effort. This was to be the new, predominant mindset of fashion.”

Royal Company of Archers Uniform Coat

Fig. 1 - Designer unknown (British). Royal Company of Archers Uniform Coat, ca. 1750. Wool, linen, wood, silk. Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland, A.1993.62 A. Source: The National Museum of Scotland

Jean Charles Garnier d'Isle (1697–1755)

Fig. 2 - Maurice Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704-1788). Jean Charles Garnier d'Isle (1697–1755), ca. 1750. Pastel and gouache on blue paper, laid down on canvas; 64.5 x 54 cm (25 3/8 x 21 1/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002.439. Purchase, Walter and Leonore Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 2002. Source: The Met

Man's waiscoat, breeches, and vest

Fig. 3 - Designer unknown (Probably French). Man's waiscoat, breeches, and vest, ca. 1750. Silk polychrome velvet, brocaded; jacket: 94.9 cm breeches: 80 cm vest 83.8 cm (jacket: 37 3/8 in breeches: 31 1/2 in vest 33 in). Boston: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 2016.489.1-3. William Francis Warden Fund and funds donated by Doris May. Source: MFA Boston


Fig. 4 - Designer unknown (French). Waistcoat, 1750-55. Silk. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.54.25. Gift of Mrs. Alice Frankenberg, 1954. Source: The Met


Elizabeth Greenleaf

Fig. 1 - John Singleton Copley (American, 1738-1815). Elizabeth Greenleaf, 1753-54. Oil on canvas; 54.6 x 45.1 cm (21 1/2 x 17 3/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002.612. Gift of Marc Holzer, 2002. Source: The MET

John Greenleaf

Fig. 2 - John Singleton Copley (American, 1738-1815). John Greenleaf, 1753-54. Oil on canvas; 54.6 x 45.1 cm (21 1/2 x 17 3/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002.611. Gift of Stuart and Rhoda Holzer, 2002. Source: The MET

Saint Margaret of Cortona

Fig. 3 - Gaspare Traversi (Italian, ca. 1722-1770). Saint Margaret of Cortona, ca. 1758. Oli on canvas; 172.1 x 122.6 cm (67 3/4 x 48 1/4 in). New York: The Metropolotian Museum of Art, 68.182. Gwynne Andrews Fund, 1968. Source: The MET


Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1750-1759

Map of Europe in 1750. Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • 1750 – Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
  • 1752 – Gregorian calendar adopted
  • 1759 – Voltaire’s Candide is written

Primary/Period Sources

Resources for Fashion History Research

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Etiquette Books (Digitized)

Secondary Sources

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