Saturday, 7 January 2012

Whatever Happened to the 18th Century?

Readers who have followed me over here from Jane of All Trades might well wonder what happened to my first sewing love, the 18th century?  And well you might!

I actually began sewing because of a love of things like this:

(I'm actually drooling, just looking at these outfits.)

It's my dream to go to the Venice Carnival (for my 30th birthday would be ace!) and make myself a crazily over the top masquerade-type outfit, based on this famous portrait of Madame de Pompadour:

So where is all my 18th century sewing love?  Well, I do still adore these gowns, but, really, I have no opportunity to wear them - I don't do re-enactments and I'm too self-conscious to wander around Nottingham in stays and full on 18th century gown/jacket, petticoat and hat.  So I have to make do with dreaming and writing about such things.

But, it should be no surprise that 1950s appeal to me:

(Image from the Vintage Patterns Wiki.)

Fitted bodice, BIG skirt.  Oh, and lush use of colour.

So, I still carry my 18th century love with me in some respects and, more importantly, I'm looking for ways I can incorporate little touches of 18th century style in my home and clothing.  I'd love to buy a pair of the good Duchess's leather Devonshire's to wear as normal shoes:

Just picture them dyed grey ... or blue ... or black ... or red ... under trousers or with tights and a dress - they wouldn't look so crazy.  (Right?)  But I really can't justify buying bespoke shoes, nevermind shipping them from the US - alas!  So I have to make do with sighing after them.

And do the cuffs on New Look 6000 look familiar?

No?  Just me then :/  But they do remind me of mid 18th century cuffs, and the buttons remind me of those on 17th and 18th century men's coats (piratical justaucorps):

Anyway, it's a ongoing little project of mine to think about how I can inject the 18th century into the 21st century (via the 1950s-60s!) - am I bonkers?


  1. I don't think you're bonkers at all! I often think about the same things--seeing the aesthetics of the 18th century (and other eras) in modern clothing. For instance--ever notice how belted cardigans can sorta look like pierrots with sashes? Or how a three-quarter-length jacket or cardigan with a flouncy blouse peeking out at the sleeve hem evokes engageantes? I love pulling little bits of historical inspiration into my 'real' clothes.

    I can see why you wouldn't want to wander the streets in full 18th century garb--though I have found myself in restaurants and even grocery stores and, once, a Big Lots in my full outfit. You get some looks.

  2. I agree with Rowenna. I am rethinking how I dress in general. I have gotten so 'relaxed' and blah about my clothes and want to inspire them with my favorite periods. So, toast to you Clare - I really dig the 18th century and the 30's and 50's. There are so many elements from the 18th century that can go into 30's and 50's clothes. Example: The winter and summer coats in the mid-30's - they have the capelets like the Redingotes, right? Anyway, you go girl! Keep inspiring us to do the same! Cheers.

  3. I order my wardrobe by era. All modern stuff but I like to be able to recreate the 'feel' of an era using those items. I can do regency to modern day. Not historically correctly but giving that nod to the fashions of the era. I've got to work on my tudor and medieval influenced stuff as they have kinda been neglected but the square necks and medieval sleeves don't seem to have surfaced yet.


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