Fashion

1775 Fashion PlateFashions for men and women changed dramatically during the eighteenth century.  In general, as the century progressed, fashions required less and less fabric and (for women especially) relied more and more on trims and other decorations, until the fairly abrupt switch to "Empire" and "Regency" fashions at the end of the century.  While "common" clothing remained fairly similar throughout the period, for those who could afford it styles and preferred fabrics and colors changed with the seasons as well as year by year.  At first, those who wished to follow the latest French and English fashions relied on written descriptions, dolls with sample clothing that were shipped to the colonies, and "personal shoppers" in London and Paris who might be agents or friends.  Soon, however, magazines such as the Ladies Magazine included colored plates as well.  Following is a sampling of the many useful websites and images available on the internet and a short bibliography of books that we've found particularly useful.  Pinterest has many interesting boards also - so many that we won't attempt to list them here.  

 

Useful Books

Whatever Shall I Wear, by Mara Riley 

Costume in Detail, by Nancy Bradford

Eighteenth-Century Clothing at Williamsburg, by Linda Baumgarten 

Costume Close-up, by Baumgarten, Watson, and Carr

Fitting & Proper, by Sharon Ann Burnston

(A more extensive bibliography can be found at Mara Riley's website, and the Victoria and Albert Museum has a list of 18th century fashion resources, along with- elsewhere on their website - many original garments and other useful information)

 

Useful Links

18th Century Clothing Notebook (extensive links to extant garments - but for V&A links only go to search page)

18c New England Life (useful basic advice and information)

The Regency Fashion Page (1790s on, good for fashion plates) - (this link seems to have a website problem at this writing, but keep looking for it .)

Burnley & Trowbridge (suppliers of books, fabric, patterns, sewing and costume accessories)

William Booth Draper (ditto)

Kim Walters at The Sign of the Grey Horse (a wide selection of reasonably priced 17th-19th century reproduction and historically inspired jewelry for men and women)

The Silly Sisters (suppliers of finished clothing, stays and accessories)

The Recollections of JP Ryan (reliably authentic patterns)

The British Museum - album of prints and cuttings of ladies fashions

Donna Thorland website - a useful collection of links, including to sutlers, from this successful writer of 18th century romances.

Free Patterns from LACMA

A general listing of free patterns (various periods, no guarantees!)