The French Court continued as center of fashion during the reigns of Louis XV and XVI.
Settlement in the British colonies in the New World continued. Colonists in British lands in American grew restive under British rule and by the latter part of the century they revolted and declared their independence, establishing the United States of America.
The British Empire, circa 1815 Trade with the Far East brought Asian textiles to Europe, providing luxurious silks and printed cottons for fashionable garments.
In Europe and America the Industrial Revolution made possible the production of a wide range of domestic textiles.
Fashion changes for men in the 18th century were not extreme
Toward the beginning of the century, men wore white shirts with a ruffled frill at the front under vests that were sleeved or sleeveless. The vest was only a little shorter than the outer coat, which had become wider. Coat cuffs were wide. Breeches reached to the knee.
Throughout the century, coats for formal wear were lavishly embroidered or made of luxurious silks.
If the coat, vest, and breeches were made of the same fabric, the suit was know as a ditto suit .
For less formal occasions, a frock coat, which was a more casual coat with a flat, turned down collar and a looser fit, might be worn.
By the second half of the century, vests had grown shorter, breeches were more closely fitted, and the jacket had narrowed and curved back, away from the front below the waistline. Both frock coats and more formal coats continue to be worn.
Loose colorful dressing gowns called banyans were worn at home and also on the street. When relaxing, men might take off their wigs and wear an embroidered nightcap.
Skirts became less round and were wider from side to side. Gowns fitted in the back were called à l’Anglaise and those with full unfitted pleats at the shoulder back and fitted fronts were know as robes à la Française.
Gowns generally had square necklines. Many had a “v” shaped insert at the front, that was called a stomacher, was often highly ornamented with embroidery, lace, and ribbon. Full skirts were generally slit in front and worn over a petticoat of matching or contrasting fabric.
To cover hair outdoors
Except for formal dress where it still appeared, the exceptionally wide robe à la Française was replaced by a dress with skirts held out by a pad, and skirts were looped up in puffs to form “ polonaise .”
Hairstyles grow enormous by 1770s, and get lampooned in cartoons
Expensive soft cotton muslins from India were made into a dress cut similarly to a chemise.
Fullness in the skirt gradually shifted to the back and the bodice front took on a puffed appearance as soft scarves were tucked into necklines.
Working class women, slaves and the poor wore petticoats with straight, unfitted, washable tops called shortgowns .
Philosophers suggested practical, comfortable clothing for children were better for their health and development.
The 18th CenturyIf it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it.