A Lady Gets Dressed In The Fashion Of 18th Century

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A lady gets dressed in the fashion of 18th century. She puts on her clothes, with help in a particular order, including, a shift, stays, petticoats, pockets, roll, stockings and garters, gown and stomacher, apron and shoes.Costume curator Pauline Rushton explores what it was like for women to get dressed in the 18th century.

image credit: National Museums Liverpool

“Getting ourselves dressed in the morning is one of the everyday things we all take for granted, along with brushing our hair and our teeth. But what would it feel like to have someone else dress you every day? In the 18th century, provided you had enough money and could afford to pay servants, that would be the norm, especially if you were a woman.

image credit: National Museums Liverpool

In any case, clothes could be so complicated that you wouldn’t be able to get into them easily without someone else’s assistance. Ideas about privacy and intimacy were different then too – it was normal to be touched by a servant if they were helping you wash or dress.

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You can now watch a short video (below) that shows how a well-off woman was dressed by her maid servant at that time. You can see the layers of garments that were involved, beginning with the basic linen shift, followed by the stays (the corset), and the petticoats, and finishing with the fine silk gown.

Many accessories were also involved in the process, including stockings, garters, separate pockets, padded bum rolls and kerchiefs for the neckline – but no drawers!