Robe à la Française | 1760-70
Women with coquettish airs were imposing in robes à la française and robes à l’anglaise throughout the period between 1720 and 1780. The robe à la française was derived from the loose negligee sacque dress of the earlier part of the century, which was pleated from the shoulders at the front at the back. The silhouette, composed of a funnel-shaped bust feeding into wide rectangular skirts, was inspired by Spanish designs of the previous century and allowed for expansive amounts of textiles with delicate Rococo curvilinear decoration. The wide skirts, which were often open at the front to expose a highly decorated underskirt, were supported by panniers created from padding and hoops of different materials such as cane, baleen or metal. The robes à la française are renowned for the beauty of their textiles, the cut of the back employing box pleats and skirt decorations, known as robings, which showed endless imagination and variety.
Ensemble | c. 1798
Corset | c. late 18th century
Dress | c. 1725 | Italian
Robe à la Polonaise | c. 1780
Suit | c. 1760
This magnificent suit remarkably survives complete with all of its components. Because elements of menswear were often retailored to accommodate changes in the wearer’s size or in fashion, this ensemble in essentially unaltered condition is an exceedingly rare example. Characteristic of the fashion of this date, skintight breeches that buckle below the knee and a fitted waistcoat are almost entirely covered by a coat with collarless, narrow chest and stiffly flaring skirt that concentrates emphasis on the lower torso and thighs. The placement of the opulent applied decoration bolsters this effect. Although the coat retains stiffness reminiscent of the 1750s styles, the buttons do not meet below the upper chest and the angular opening anticipates the pronounced front curve and diminishing skirt of late decades. The color coordination of all three parts and the utilization of wool, both decidedly English elements that anticipate modern attire, were generally reserved for informal wear. Here, however, the suit is resplendent with an abundance of gold buttons and braid more closely associated with high-style occasions. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Formal Suit | c. First quarter of the 18th Century
Banyan Robe | c. 1750-1775
I want to make a banyan for myself. I think a fabric buying trip needs to happen soon.
Also called a morning gown, robe de chambre or nightgown, the banyan was a loose, T-shaped or kimono-like cotton, linen or silkgown worn at home as a sort of dressing or informal coat over the shirt and breeches. It was usually paired with a soft, turban-like cap worn in place of the formal periwig.