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The 18th Century

In the 18th century the Enlightenment culminated in the French and American revolutions. Which resulted in a Man's supposed triumph over nature and artifice. It was an obsession for changing nature to produce something artificial, which reflected in fashion like *Panniers.

The absolute staple for 18th Century men attire were breeches, waistcoat, jacket, jabot and a tricorn hat. But when menswear got fancy, it got really fancy with a lot of golden embroidery and colors. This was the last time male fashion would be so decorative!

At female attire the bodice remains more or less the same throughout the century with three-quarter length sleeves and a squared neckline, but the skirt shape changes. Throughout the 18th Century there were key-dresses that everybody wore and all of them had different names and appeared at different points of the century.

  • First there was the 'Robe Volente' : in front and at the back there was a panel of fabric.

  • The 'Robe à la Française' had only a panel of fabric on the back.

  • The 'Robe à L'Anglaise' had no panels of fabric.

  • Mid-century *Panniers were the strangest things of whole fashion history! It's a skirt, slim on the side but very very wide on the hips. Buildings had wider doors to accommodate the panniers, so that women would not have to make their grand entrances by walking sideways into a room!

  • A little later in the 18th Century, there was the 'Robe à la Polonaise'. The top layer of fabric was raised up to make puffy sacks on the sides and the back. It was also allowed to show their ankles, very shocking and sexy!

  • The 'Robe à la Creole' was worn by the French woman living in Louisiana or the Caribbean (Colonization). It was a simple white gown with a lot of rushing.

  • The 'Robe en Chemise' came about the 1780s and '90s. Because of the French revolution fashion changed drastically. It had a squared neckline, long tight sleeves and was very simple (no lace, embroidery etc.). This new silhouette would define fashion in the first 2 decades of the 1800s.

panniers - front and side

Stripes and a lot of golden embroidery were also very popular.

About this embroidery: Aristocracy had a little hobby. They would unpick all the gold embroidery and pull out the gold threads because they found it relaxing. So they totally didn't had respect for the hours and months of handmade work of these textiles.

Fun fact: In the 18th Century, shoes did not come in left and right. Each was identical and the shoe then took the form of the foot after wearing a few times.



Also check out Margo's beautiful illustrations and read about their hair and makeup rituals! You would be horrified! ;-)

Next time we will illustrate the Empire era, stay tuned!


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Hi there!

My name is Tinneke De Block,
aka Tinika. This blog* is a means of sharing my artwork, collaborations, studies & processes, mood boards, personal life posts, interior design, fashion (history), and lots of creative inspiration!

*pardon my Dutch

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1920s fashion history - Tinika illustrations

Fashion history illustrated




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