Sunday, July 29, 2012

Museum Costumes from the Late 1700's

I've been posting fashion plates from the late 1700's over the past several months; many depicting the styles that were popular during the time of Marie Antoinette and thought it would be fun to throw in some real costumes from the time. I've had a bit of costume adventure in the past few days and posted a large assortment of historical costumes to my Pinterest account to keep track of them.  You can see them all HERE.

Museum websites are a great place to see authentic fashions from days gone by as are any number of blogs and fashion websites.  Here are some of my top pics of late 1700 fashionable clothing that I've recently placed on my Museums Fashion - Pinterest board.

Robe à la Française") c. 1780- France from The Kyoto Costume Institute
I've chosen this rendition as the main image for this post since it contains many elements 
that point to the time of Marie Antoinette and French High Fashion of the late 1700's; 
including wide panniers, high hair and whimsical hair ornamentation such as the ship on top.

See and read more about it at KCI -HERE or see it on my Pinterest board HERE

Back in March 2012, I did a post about "Naughty" French Fashions showing fashion plates of decolletage so low that a ladies breasts were exposed.  Many museums do not show good examples of this trend but I've found a few and here they are.

1780 ensemble "bares" it all.  Image from American
This great example of a low cut "Caraco" was found on 
The American Duchess blog HERE
It's a great blog so I hope you pull it up and visit a while.

1770-80 PINK SILK BROCADE ROBE A LA FRANCAISE. Sack back open gown
A wonderful Museum quality vintage garment from  Augusta-Auction
This view give you an idea of how exposed this garment makes the wearer
should she choose not to wear any additional "modesty" accessory.

And here is the garment with "modesty" left somewhat  intact.
1770-80 PINK SILK BROCADE ROBE A LA FRANCAISE. Sack back open gown
It's amazing what a little scrap of cloth can hide - wink.
I've also posted this dress to my Pinterest board HERE

Undergarments of the late 1700's
c1780 "Unmentionables" stays and panniers - from LACMA
Here is a nice example of what a 1780's lady may have worn under her garment.
The stays would have ciched you in and puched you up; presented a pretty bosom while the panniers would have exagerated the hips and supported yards of fabric.

Note how the extra fabric under the stays are basically all that keeps her from exposing her "charms" - here again it was not uncommon for ladies of this period to expose their breasts but museums seem to have a difficult time showing this common fashion trend.  I find it a fun game to see if I can spot them out regardless.

Here is an example of exposed breasts via a vintage fashion plate.
 Others can be seen at my post "Naughty" French Fashions"

French Fashion plate from c1780 showing just how low the ladies would go.

Here is a famous painting of Princess Lambella showing the low bodice fashion of the late 1700's
Marie Therese Louise de Savoie Carignan - Princess de Lamballe - wikimedia

It was not uncommon for families and museums to "touch-up" such portraits to disguise how revealing these fashions were during this period, so it is a treasure to locate
one that has not been "overly" restored, in order to save our modern sensibilities.

These "exposed" portraits  are a bit difficult to locate; however they do exist from
the late 1500s through the early 1800s

The late 1700's were full of high fashion and more modest designs.
Many of them of rich fabrics and amazing trims.

Fashion plates are lovely; however they just can't show the details 
of lace and metallic thread like the real thing.
Here are some beautiful examples that have survived for our viewing pleasure.

c1765 Robe a la Française - from LACMA

c1760 Robe à la Francaise - from LACMA

c1765 Robe à la Française with panniers - from LACMA

c1765 Dress (Robe à la Française) - from The MET

Portraites and paintings are another great way to view vintage fashions.
As in the portrait of Princess Lamballe (seen farther up in the post), we get an idea
of style, texture and detail that is more in-depth and real than what is seen in a fashion plate.

c1748 Sophie Marie Gräfin Voss by Antoine Pesne found at GrandLadies

1775 Marie-Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste-Andre Gautier d'Agoty (Versailles) found at GrandLadies
Lots of other great portraits showing the fashion of the day can be seen at the GrandLadies site.


Men's Fashions of the day were every bit as elegant as the ladies costumes.
I'm constantly amazed at the amount of embroidery, braid and trim on gents fashions.
Many of them; especially court costumes were walking works of art.

1775-89 Court Coat of wool, metal, silk and glass - The MET

c1760 French Mens Ensemble - from LACMA

c1770-1790's "Habit a la Francaise" - from AntiqueDress

1750-75 Court Suit (back) - French - Silk and Metal thread - The MET

This is just a small sampling of some of the amazing period costumes you can view out on the web.
I hope it inspires you to do some web searches of your own and start your own Pinterest board of your favorite finds.  I'm constantly adding to my own board, with vintage fashion finds of all time periods so you never know what you might find by dropping by.


Right now one of my top favorite finds are several pairs of super sexy, thigh high boots from the early 1900's.  Several comments refer to these as  CanCan dancer boots but I'm not convinced and am  trying to find out for sure.  I hope to post more about them one day when I do Victorian and Edwardian Fashions. 

Here is just one pair for you to see.
I bet you never found a pair of these in your grandmother's closet.

1900-1920 Sexy, leather and cellulose, tall, button boots from Paris - The MET
 I believe these to be vintage boots tied to an "interesting pursuit" but would like verification;
if you know what they are and can send me some links about this style of early 1900 boot,
 I'd love to know more.

Fetish Boots from 1900 - LACMA

Update - 08-17-12 - This similar pair of vintage "fetish" boots were at LACMA - the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in a special exhibition, showing them as belonging to a member of the demimonde, possibly of a "courtesan" profession. More on that exhibit including a leather corset can be seen- HERE

I love vintage "fetish-wear" it's so intriguing to get a gimps into this side of our 
predecessors and it makes fashion history all them more interesting. -wink.

Till Next time...


  1. Hello,

    Very interesting post!!! Thank you very much for the great adventure on the history of fashion! I will surely visit your account Pinterest, for my part I have closed my Pinterest accounts because I was overwhelmed by false followers (Pinterest false accounts which are very numerous in most of the pornography that abounds there). Despite all my messages sent to Pinterest, they did absolutely nothing. I know that the Web has many dark sides, but when I can, I try not to rub.Yet Pinterest was such a beautiful idea ...

    A chance that your wonderful blog exist!
    Thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi again Sylvie - I am totally intrigued by the "risque" fashions prior to the early 20th century and wanted to express it with this post. I hope to do a more extensive personal study on it at a later time. It should be interesting to see what I can find.

      To date I've had a very good experience with Pinterest and love to use it to keep track of items I want to follow up on at a later time. I'm sorry you were not as fortunate with your experience.

      Till next time,