Friday, March 04, 2011

Dressing in the 18th Century

I've had a crash course on stays this week, between my friend Carla Gade's posts on Dressing a Colonial Lady, and the blog and emails of the Colonial Lady herself, Mary Spencer. If you'd like to tell between stays and corsets, check out Mary's informative and interesting site (she's a Colonial reenactor), and don't miss Carla's blog series from this week:

Dressing a Colonial Lady, Day One
Dressing a Colonial Lady, Day Two
Dressing a Colonial Lady, Day Three

In case you'd still like more on the subject, I went on a "getting dressed in Colonial times" hunt for videos on Youtube. Here's what I turned up:

A video showing an 18th century farm couple, from Claude Moore Colonial Farm, dressing in their workaday clothes.

Dressing with pocket hoops and petticoats

Mid-18th Century upperclass fashion

Another video, using drawings, showing the steps of dressing an upper class Colonial Lady

Clothing Layers for the 1780s and 1790s

For a slightly later period, a video of a woman donning an 1805 Regency drop front style dress, over 1790s stays and petticoat.  Looks like having a maid, or a double mirror, would be very helpful.

These are good resources for a writer of 18th century fiction who lives on the West Coast, and can't visit the sites and the folks who have a shared passion for (and far more knowledge of) 18th Century Colonial and Federal clothing.


  1. Thank you for sharing about this, Lori. It's been a real education for me. Look at all those great videos. I'll have to go check them out!

  2. Costume is so important! I loved the clothes in The Patriot. The director for the Keira Knightly version of P&P chose to make the time period later so he could drop the waist- apparently he couldn't picture the lythe Ms. Knightly in the Regency style. I love your attention to detail! Yay!!

  3. Lori, thanks for this list. Love fashion history, costume design, etc. So good...

  4. Um... Hi again. I spelled lithe wrong... Just so you know, I know... :-)

  5. @Cheryl, That one slipped by me. But I'm the same as you. I can't let spelling errors in comments go unremarked upon (if I catch them).

    Glad this fashion stuff has been of interest. Somehow, through two novels, I've managed not to write 18th century heroines for whom fashion was a major issue, but my new heroine, Tamsen, is a cloth merchant's daughter and though they are not in the top social tier of society, the family takes their clothing seriously.

    I'd thought that latest P&P had a time change from the book, but couldn't remember if it had been changed to before or after. I'll have to watch the behind the scenes stuff again.

    @Carla, thanks for doing all the leg work (even though I'm sure it was great fun) and posting so much good information last week.

  6. Whoops again- The P&P with Keira was about 10 years EARLIER than the Regency period... Can I blame hormones?