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The 18th century was not only famous for formal occasions but also for vibrant dresses that seized the limelight often for various reasons. Although those dresses are a retarded affair today but the dressing style is still renowned for its opulence.

The 18th century saw fashions for elaborate wigs, rich embroidery, gowns, fashionable undress, and full skirts. While most of these dresses were applauded for their aestheticism, other were an absolute disaster.

In the early 17th century, women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua style, introduced in the 1670s, remained fashionable until the beginning of the eighteenth century. Mantua was an open fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train and matching petticoat. The loose fitting overdress was draped up and pulled back to reveal the petticoat. It was unboned but worn with a corset.

The trend for keeping the body in shape gave birth to a new piece of clothing called a corset. Corset made of linen, stiffened with whalebones (replaced with flexible fabrics and flexible steel today) inserted between parallel lines of stitching was worn under the bodice to keep the body in shape.

By the 1730s the open robe was beginning to replace the mantua as formal day wear. The gorgeously patterned Spitalfields silk of this hand-sewn gown was a symbol of luxury. The accompanying quilted petticoat suggests that the ensemble was probably worn for afternoon tea parties rather than in the evening at the opera or theatre.

During the same point in time, the ‘sack back’ dress worn over a hoop petticoat became a trendy affair. The sack back gown or robe à la française was a very informal style of dress. This style of gown was made from five or six panels of silk pleated into two box pleats at the center back of the neckband. From the front, the gown was revealing, showing off a decorative stomacher and matching petticoat. The nightgown style; or style anglaise had a pleated back. The pleats were stitched flat from the back of the neck to the center back waist.

Just as fashions change with time, so do styles in hairstyles. During the 1770s, hairstyles became higher as they were combed over a padded roll or worn over a frame. An ideal woman in the 18th century was someone with black, brown, or blond strong red hair. Cashew nut and the strawberry blond were very popular too. 

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That time student used such type of style when they went on assignment writing help.

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Between the 1770s and1780s, printed cotton fabrics began to substitute silk in popularity for women’s gowns. The material used for making this hand-sewn gown had dotted ground, printed in a repeating pattern of floral sprays. The less decorative gowns were worn during summer afternoons for card games and tea parties, rather than for evening dress.

Between the 1780s and 1800s, a much visible change took place in the female silhouette. The waistline became higher, the skirt was reduced to the width, and hoop petticoats were counted amongst the retarded fashion trends. As a substitute, 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.

The introduction of bustle in the early 1870s changed the shape of the entire dress. The sides of the skirt were drawn further back, creating a narrower front. By 1873, bustles were set quite high, which were lowered later and by 1877, the bustle disappeared. Even after the bustle was discontinued, dresses were still gathered and accentuated in the back.

 

As far as gentlemen of colonial times are concerned, a coat was the uppermost layer of clothing worn over waistcoat and breeches. The coat was moderately a loose and comfortable garment with the slight saturation in the knee-length skirts falling into folds over the backside of the hips. Men in 18th century chose great coats as their protective outer garment in foul weather. Most often made of heavy woolens, these coats made sure they stay warm and dry.

Moreover, the 18th-century man almost always considered wearing some sort of fashionable neckcloth. The cravat was one of many kinds of neckwear. It was a narrow length of white linen that could be decorated on its ends with lace, fringe, or knots. Men simply use to wrap the cloth around their throat and loosely tie it in front.

During the second half of the 18th century, a garment referred to as "a hunting shirt" began to appear in North America. The earliest and simplest form seems akin to the coarse shirts that European waggoneers and farmers wore as a protective cover all.

Shoes have always been an important part of a men’s fashion. Men’s shoes were made in great variety, quality, and styles. Low heeled shoes or pumps were of softer leather, coarse common shoes of sturdier leathers. Black was by far the most usual color, and only occasionally were other colors seen.

Both men and women wore stockings in the 18th century. Fashionable stockings of silk or cotton were generally white, and at times, decorated with knit or embroidered patterns at the ankle, referred to as "clocks" or "clocking".

The 18th century was almost never seen without his waistcoat. Roaming without waistcoat was just like roaming naked to them. The waistcoat, or vest, of the 1770s, was fashionably worn to the upper part of the thigh, opening in a "V" beneath the stomach. Waistcoats were made in all qualities of silk, cotton, wool, and linens.

18th is renowned as a golden age of men wearing wigs. While certain styles of wigs made of human, horse, goat or yak hair became associated with particular professionals, the vast majority of wigs had no particular connotations. As the century progressed, the proportion of the wig generally decreased and the variety of fashionable forms expanded greatly.

18th-century clothing was unique in itself. Though today you do not see people roaming around wearing wigs or flowing gowns, however, that way of dressing still steals the limelight at various occasions.

References:

A Colonial Lady's Clothing

Women's Clothing

Sack-back gown

Category:18th-century fashion

Introduction to Eighteenth century clothing

18th century men’s clothing