In the 1780s the styles from the previous decade continued to be popularized, emphasizing more casual clothing in both womenswear and menswear. At the same time, fashion publications were becoming a vital part of spreading trends and fashion news.
Tag: 18th century
The 1760s mark the last decade during which the robe à la française dominated women’s wardrobes since it was first introduced in the 1720s. In the last three decades of the eighteenth century, other, more informal styles became fashionable for daywear and the robe à la française was increasingly worn for evening. For men, the distinction between the subdued informality of Englishmen’s dress and the colorful formality of Continental styles (particularly those of France and Italy) remained pronounced, although this would change in the following decades in favor of the former. The narrowing of the coat that began around 1750 continued in this decade and a low standing collar that would increase in height until the end of the century appeared in the middle years.
The mid-eighteenth century marked the height of rococo influence on women’s dress; colorful floral-patterned silk gowns and matching petticoats with three-dimensional trimmings, often applied in serpentine bands, were shown to advantage over wide panniers. During this and the following three decades, the marchande de modes, or milliner, who supplied and artfully arranged these delicate decorations became increasingly important in the creation of a fashionable gown. The coats of men’s three-piece suits became slimmer, losing the extreme side fullness of the 1730s and 1740s, and the waistcoat shortened to mid-thigh. Although wool was favored for daywear, especially among Englishmen, silks and velvets that might be embellished with embroidery or metallic galloon or lace were still obligatory for formal wear.
In a late 18th-century painting organized by skin tone, Agostino Brunias has depicted a range of colonial Dominican fashions from the wealthy elite to the poorest people whom they enslaved.
Jacques-Louis David painted famed scientist, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, and his wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, in 1788. This dual portrait was commissioned by Lavoisier and is executed in the neoclassical naturalism for which David is best known. Both are dressed in the latest fashions, embracing simplicity (in Paulze’s case) and somber restraint (in Lavoisier’s).
Vigée Le Brun’s infamous portrait of Marie Antoinette embodies the tension between fashion and politics in 18th-century France.
This portrait of Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott (1754?-1823) by English portraitist Thomas Gainsborough was commissioned by Mrs. Elliott’s lover, the Earl of Cholmondeley. First exhibited at Royal Academy, London in 1778, the composition and treatment are reminiscent of Van Dyck.
During this decade, men’s fashionable dress exhibited few changes from the preceding ten years, apart from the powdered wig that became noticeably less voluminous. For women, the most significant developments were the decline of the fontange, the elaborate wired headdress that had been popular since the 1680s; the increasingly widespread adoption of the hoop-petticoat, or panier; and, around 1716, the introduction of the robe battante, or sack, a billowing gown that replaced the mantua as everyday dress for women in the 1720s.
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