Friday, October 7, 2011

Transition:18th Century Styles

When did it happen? When did the changes begin that brought the 18th century from sober and long standing styles, to new and evolving styles? We are really going to look closely at primary sources to try and determine when and how those changes took place.
Lewis Walpole Library
This print from the Lewis Walpole Library is dated 1775.  Notice that the woman's gown no longer sports robings on either side.  Also notice that it does not close center front, the opening is still there, but much narrower. 

Not a closed front gown, and not an open front either!  So the next logical step is to assume this is a transition from one style -stomacher and robings- to the next-center front closing gown.  Also note the stripes on the sleeves are up and down, not sideways.

  This print from 1775 shows us a woman at home wearing undress, having her corns cut!


This zoomed in view shows us she is wearing a jacket in the French style.  This excerpt from the Lady's Magazine, May 1775, gives us the clue as to what is going on.

"Nightgowns in the French jacket fashion, flying back and tying behind with large bunches of ribbon. Sashes round the waist, and fastened with a small buckle."

The term nightgowns is referencing English fitted gowns, telling us that now they flying back like a French jacket.  This jacket fits the description, it is not closed and appears loose to the body and has a sash around the waist.  Dovetailing perfectly to the description given in the Lady's Magazine.  Is this the transition to the "zone" gown?


  1. This is very interesting. How late did stomachers continue to be used?
    Lovely blog!

  2. Hi Carla
    It would depend on your age, station, where you live, etc., I don't know exactly when that style faded into oblivion but it would appear that by the early 1780's they cease to be fashionable (except for the inverted stomacher in a "zone" gown.
    -Mrs. S