18th Century Fashion History

4. October 2021
Reform dress

© pixabay.com / JamesDeMers

While the domestic fashion world is part of the Fashion premiere recently took a look “Back to the future”, now it goes back to the past. After the Thirty Years War and its purposefully kept fashion the late developed 17th century colorful diversity that was even able to cross gender boundaries. Corresponding currents were taken up and continued in the 18th century before a sudden break occurred.


What was good in the last century …

… was also easy to wear in the beginning of the following century. The late baroque fashion was characterized among other things by the whalebone corset, which ensured a narrow waist, accompanied by wide skirts made of silk, decorated with trimmings and a bodice. In contrast, the top was very tight, turned into an overskirt and literally flowed into a train, accompanied by a cleavage that was as wide as possible. Pointed shoes and pinned hair rounded off the late baroque outfit. The man wore a long-haired wig, accompanied by quite opulent accessories. The Justaucorps overskirt, with its wide sleeves, was just as much a part of good manners as the wide culottes held together at the knees and the tricorn on the head.

Detour to the Rococo

The Rococo finally set in around 1720 and brought the first changes with it, which seemed like a final surge of opulence. Significantly lighter colors – in women and men – met even richer decorations. For men, the trend towards Justaucorps continued, now widened in the lap through the use of a whalebone. The shirts underneath were decorated with lace, while the waistcoats were shorter and sleeveless with tighter trousers at the same time. The wig began its retreat, but the main hair itself remained relatively long. Hoop skirts were retained in the women’s world, but from then on the width and shape changed quite frequently. The tendency towards more ornamentation even extended to the petticoat. Additional effort was made to design the hairstyles. Accessories such as bows and flowers turned out to be smart companions.

Classic style in the second half of the century

A major change finally took place from around 1750. Rich decorations and very colorful clothes gradually lost their importance, a new tendency towards simplicity tried slowly but surely to assert itself. Accordingly, significantly darker colors such as gray, chestnut brown and crimson red were much more popular. The Justaucorps also slowly but surely said goodbye. Instead, the man wore a tailcoat with tubular sleeves and a raised collar with breeches, accompanied by an overskirt as a coat. In addition to the three-cornered hat, the two-cornered hat and the top hat were an alternative. In the women’s world, people wanted to know much less about oversized skirts, only the buttocks remained a little padded. Instead, negligee robes were the relatively loose everyday outfit. One of the biggest innovations is the Caraco, a cut-out jacket over which a breast cloth was worn in the neckline. Shawls are generally used as outer clothing, accompanied by hoods and men’s hats. With the chemise dress made of cotton and the loose reform dress, the first fashionable upheavals for the 19th century appeared at the turn of the century.

Evolution and revolution: the 18th century showed its diverse side on the fashion level. If you want to experience real diversity before everyone else today, you should visit the Brandboxx trade fairs. Trade visitors take a look at the upcoming trade fair dates and submit yours Accreditation request a. Who knows, maybe one of these classic fads will soon show up as a real retro trend!


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For the sole purpose of better readability, the gender-specific spelling has been omitted. All personal terms on the website (and all integrated documents) are therefore to be understood as gender-neutral. The shortened form of language is purely editorial and does not imply any judgement.