OVERVIEW

Womenswear

Wikipedia begins writing of this decade by declaring that:

“this [is the] time when the concept of fashion, as it is known today, begins. Prior to this point, clothes as a means of self-expression were limited. Guild-controlled systems of production and distribution, and the sumptuary laws made clothing both hard to come by and expensive for the common people. However, by 1750 the consumer revolution brought about cheaper copies of fashionable styles, allowing members of all classes to partake in fashionable dress. Thus, fashion begins to represent an expression of individuality. The constant change in dress mirrored political and social ideals of the time.”

Regarding the transition from the late 18th century into the 19th century, the Victoria & Albert Museum writes:

“Between the 1780s and 1800 a very noticeable change took place in the female silhouette. The waistline became higher until it reached the bust. The skirt was reduced in width and hoop petticoats were discarded except at court. In their place crescent-shaped pads were worn at the center back waist beneath the skirt to help fill out the gathers at the back of the dress.”

Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife

Fig. 1 - Jacques-Louis David (French, 1748-1825). Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife, 1788. Oil on canvas; 259.7 × 194.6 cm (102.2 × 76.6 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977.10. Source: Wikimedia Commons

"Robe vraiment a l'Anglaise..."

Fig. 2 - Artist unknown. "Robe vraiment a l'Anglaise...", 1784. Hand-colored engraving on laid paper; 38.7 x 25.4 cm (15 1/4 x 10 in). Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 44.1579. Source: Pinterest

Dress of the Year

Fig. 3 - Ann Frankland Lewis (American, d. 1842). Dress of the Year, 1781. Source: Pinterest

Moniteur de la Mode

Fig. 4 - Jules David (French, 1808-1892). Moniteur de la Mode, 1855 (plate #447). Hand-colored engraving. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, b17509853. Gift of Woodman Thompson. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Robe à la Polonaise

Fig. 5 - Artist unknown (French). Robe à la Polonaise, ca. 1780. Silk. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976.146a, b. Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Alan S. Davis Gift, 1976. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Archduchess Marie Antoinette, Queen of France

Fig. 6 - Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun (French, 1755-1842). Archduchess Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, 1778. Oil on canvas; 273 x 193.5 cm. Vienna: Kunst Historisches Museum, Gemäldegalerie, 2772. Das 1778 gemalte Bild wurde im Februar 1779 nach Wien gesendet; 1922 Hofburg. Source: Kunst Historisches Museum Wien

Maria Therese, Archduchess of Tuscany

Fig. 7 - William Berczy (Canadian, 1744-1813). Maria Therese, Archduchess of Tuscany, 1782-1787. Oil on canvas; 33.8 x 30.5 cm. Montréal (Québec): McCord Museum, M986.288. Source: McCord Museum

Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788)

Fig. 8 - Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French, 1749-1803). Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788), 1785. Oil on canvas; 210.8 x 151.1 cm (83 x 591/2 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 53.225.5. Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Menswear

Regarding menswear of the second half of the 18th century, the Victoria & Albert Museum writes:

“As the century progressed, the male silhouette slowly changed. By the middle of the century the wig was usually tied back (known as the tye or bag wig). By the end of the century it was out of fashion altogether except for the most formal occasions. Undergarments and knee breeches did not change very much. Coat skirts gradually became less full and the front was cut in a curved line towards the back. Waistcoats became shorter. The upper leg began to show more and more and by the end of the century breeches fitted better because they were often made of knitted silk. Shoes became low-heeled with pointed toes and were fastened with a detachable buckle and straps or ribbon on the vamp (the upper front part of a boot or shoe).”

Redingote Angloise à trois Colets et Bavaroise

Fig. 1 - Pierre-Thomas LeClerc (French, c. 1740– 1799). Redingote Angloise à trois Colets et Bavaroise, 1780. Hand-colored engraving on laid paper; 36.2 x 24.1 cm (14 1/4 x 9 1/2 in). Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 44.1474. The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection. Source: Museum of Fine Arts

Court coat

Fig. 2 - Designer unknown (Probably British). Court coat, 1775–89. Wool, metal, silk, glass. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.2479. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Gilberte Andree, 1960. Source: The Met

Charles Wesley (1757-1834)

Fig. 3 - John Russell (British, 1745-1806). Charles Wesley (1757-1834), ca. 1780. Oil on canvas; 150 x 106 cm. London: England: Royal Academy of Music, 2003.1061. Source: Art UK

Portrait of William Duguid

Fig. 4 - Prince Demah Barnes (American). Portrait of William Duguid, 1773. Oil on canvas; 52.7 × 40 × 2.9 cm (20 3/4 × 15 3/4 × 1 1/8 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010.105. Friends of the American Wing Fund, 2010. Source: The Met

CHILDREN’S WEAR

Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga (1784–1792)

Fig. 1 - Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, 1746–1828). Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga (1784–1792), 1787–88. Oil on canvas; 127 x 101.6 cm (50 x 40 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 49.7.41. The Jules Bache Collection, 1949. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

References:

Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1780-1789
Rulers:

Map of Europe in 1789. Source: emersonkent.com

Events:
  • 1781 – Uranus is discovered
  • 1783 – Treaty of Paris
  • 1783 – Britain recognized Independence of American colonies
  • 1785 – David’s Oath of Horatii
  • 1788 – The Times is published
  • 1789 – George Washington elected
  • 1789-99 – French Revolution

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!

NYC-Area Special Collections of Fashion Periodicals/Plates
Fashion Periodicals (Digitized)

Instructions for Cutting out Apparel for the Poor, Principally Intended for the Assistance of the Patronesses of Sunday Schools, and Other Charitable Institutions, but Useful in All Families, with a Preface, Containing a Plan for Assisting the Parents of Poor Children ... to Clothe Them ... Published for the Benefit of the Sunday School Children at Hertingfordbury. London, Eng. : Sold by J. Walter, 1789. http://archive.org/details/b2875606x.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 3. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1788. http://digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de/ihd/periodical/titleinfo/1911099.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 4. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1789. http://digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de/ihd/periodical/titleinfo/1911099.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 2. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1787. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 4. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1789. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 7. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1792. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 13. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1798. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=10.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 14. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1799. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=10.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 1. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1786. http://digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de/ihd/periodical/titleinfo/1911099.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 9. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1794. http://digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de/ihd/periodical/titleinfo/1911099.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 14. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1799. http://digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de/ihd/periodical/titleinfo/1911099.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 3. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1788. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 5. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1790. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 6. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1791. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 8. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1793. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 9. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1794. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 10. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1795. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 11. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1796. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=0.
Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Vol. 12. Weimar: Verl. des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1797. http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jpjournal_00000029?XSL.referer=jportal_jpvolume_00055071&XSL.vol.start=10.

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.
“Introduction to 18th-Century Fashion.” Victoria and Albert Museum, 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 Decoration of Men’s Fashion in Eighteenth-Century France.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 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.
Blum, Stella, ed. Eighteenth-Century French Fashion Plates in Full Color: 64 Engravings from the “Galerie Des Modes,” 1778-1787. New York: Dover Publications, 1982. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/984499179.
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.
Costume, Society. The So-Called Age of Elegance: Costume 1785-1820, Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Conference of the Costume Society, 1970. London: The Costume Society, 1971. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/620540887.
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. Fashion in the French Revolution. London: Batsford, 1988. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/18191575.
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.
Weber, Caroline. Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. New York: H. Holt, 2006. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/493900888.
Wright, Merideth. Everyday Dress of Rural America, 1783-1800: With Instructions and Patterns. Dover Books on Costume. New York: Dover Publications, 1992. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/660054738.
Modes & Révolutions, 1780-1804: 8 Février-7 Mai 1989, Musée de La Mode et Du Costume, Palais Galliéra. Paris: Paris-Musées, 1989. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/243440772.
Pinterest
“1700-1799 Accessories.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-accessories/.
“1700-1799 Bags & Purses.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-bags-purses/.
“1700-1799 Children’s Clothing.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-childrens-clothing/.
“1700-1799 Fabrics & Textiles.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-fabrics-textiles/.
“1700-1799 Fashion Dolls.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-fashion-dolls/.
“1700-1799 Footwear.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-footwear/.
“1700-1799 Headwear.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-womens-headwear/.
“1700-1799 Jewelry.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-jewelry/.
“1700-1799 Men’s Headwear.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-mens-headwear/.
“1700-1799 Mitts & Gloves.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-mitts-gloves/.
“1700-1799 Pockets.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-pockets/.
“1700-1799 Stays & Petticoats.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-stays-petticoats/.
“1700-1799 Stomachers.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-stomachers/.
“1700-1799 Undated Men’s Clothing.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-mens-clothing/.
“1700-1799 Undated Portraits of Men.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-portraits-of-men/.
“1700-1799 Undated Portraits of Women.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-portraits-of-women/.
“1700-1799 Undated Women’s Clothing.” Pocket Museum, 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1700-1799-undated-womens-clothing/.
“1780-1789 Fashion Plates.” Pinterest, 1780s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1780-1789-fashion-plates/.
“1780-1789 Men’s Fashion.” Pinterest, 1780s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1780-1789-mens-fashion/.
“1780-1789 Portraits of Women.” Pinterest, 1780s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1780-1789-portraits-of-women/.
“1780-1789 Women’s Fashion.” Pinterest, 1780s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1780-1789-womens-fashion/.
“1780-1790.” Pinterest, 1780s. https://www.pinterest.com/susaneversden/1780-1790/.
“18th Century Fashion.” Pinterest, 1770s. https://www.pinterest.com/antonellabrings/damenmode-18jahrhundert/.
“18th Century Gents 1770s-1790s Fashion.” Pinterest, 1770s. https://www.pinterest.com/lucindabrant/18th-century-gents-1770s-1790s-fashion/.
“Costume in Art - 18th Century,” 1700s. https://www.pinterest.com/maellen/costume-in-art-18th-century/.
“Fashion History: 18th Century.” Museum at FIT, 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/.