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The Master Bedchamber

With a festive evening about to begin, family members congregate in the master bedchamber. The ladies and gentleman are attired in imported silks and brocades, dressed in the height of Philadelphia fashion. Discarded finery is strewn about the room, forgotten for the moment, as final details are perfected, and all are ready for a grand entrance down the staircase.


on easy chair c. 1770-1780

The banyan was an informal garment, which was a comfortable and fashionable alternative to the coat.

Although it is akin to a dressing gown, it was appropriate to wear outside the house when fetching the newspaper or visiting the barber. The cap was used when the fashionable wig was set aside. To have a wig fit better, men shaved their heads and the cap provided warmth and concealed their exposed heads.

Shown is a matched set of banyan, waistcoat and cap of green brocade. Based upon examples in Williamsburg, and Chester County Historical Society.LS





Middle and upper-class women in America favored a graceful, easy appearance in their daily dress, and had little use for the opulent decorations frequently seen on European court garb. Nevertheless, one would not wish to be out of fashion when the occasion demanded formality. Following English styles often seen in the works of portraitist Arthur Devis, this gown would be considered formal daytime wear for an upper-class woman. Made in robin's-egg blue silk taffeta, known as 'lustring', the gown and matching petticoat make a simple, yet sophisticated ensemble. Shaped, graduated puffed trimmings, called "plastiques" form a three-dimensional edging around the open front and robings of the gown. Pinked edges lend an airy feeling to the sleeve flounces and ruched silk bands decorating the stomacher, and tightly gathered fabric and silky floss trim (fly fringe) and self-fabric ruffles decorate the petticoat front. A 'pompon' of white feathers and silk flowers adorns the hair. LS


This ensemble consists of matching dress, petticoat and stomacher, all copiously decorated with self-fabric trim edged with braid. Texture was often just as important as color where 18th century dress decoration was concerned, thus the prevailing use of self-fabric trim. Medium sized panniers (hip extenders) are used for daytime events such as visiting or receiving guests. Having a matching petticoat and dress created a more formal appearance. The rouched neck ribbon was a popular accessory of the time. This example is accented with pearl swags. The details which date this dress earlier are the wider pleating, sleeve ruffle and stomacher front. The stomacher is the triangular piece inset in the front of the bodice and could be laced or pinned in. The pattern was adapted from a short sack in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1 (pgs. 30, 32, 33). ST

#11 Redingcote & waistcoat on stand c.1796-1800

This late period gentleman's redingcote is done in a double-breasted cut - a particularly stylish fashion of the latter part of the century. This example is made of a gold and cream narrow-striped satin, with high, cut-away squared fronts. The large 'stand-fall' collar opens into large, wide, pointed lapels. The sleeves exhibit oversized, covered buttons. Matching buttons also decorate the chest, and back vents of the coat pleats. The double-breasted waistcoat is made in a wide olive green and tan striped satin. The high-waisted front of the coat shows off the longer waistcoat front, with its' gold buttons and welted pockets, and the large lapels are folded back to slightly overlap those of the frock coat. LS


#12 GENTLEMAN'S COAT on stand c.1730-1750
By the 1730's, men's coat skirts accented width as the side pleats grew to nearly circular dimension, and were pleated to fall gracefully on each side. Originally, these side slits had accomodated the gentleman's sword hilt, with the point of the sword coming out the back vent of the coat, which also allowed the man to sit a horse comfortably in his full-length coat. Rich fabrics, like this olive and tan brocade, were reserved for formal ocassions. Ivory ribbon woven through gold tim accentuates the coat edges and large cuffs. LS

and ACCESSORIES c. mid-18th century

Shown on the couch are a pair of jumps, a sort of unboned firm waistcoat that provided bust support. Jumps were only used in informal settings or when pregnant. This pair is constructed from quilted blue wool bound with matching silk. For all public appearances, stays (a type of corset) would have been used in their stead. This rigidly boned garment supported the bust and created the characteristic 18th century conical shape. They were not used, as is commonly thought, to squeeze the waist. In general, extremely tight lacing did not come into practice until the 1880's. The pair shown here is constructed from silk brocade over a foundation of sturdy linen.

Hip extenders, known as panniers, created the fashionably wide silhouette. These could come in a less formal "pocket: variety such as the pair of red striped pocket hoops, that are hung from a chair back, like two baskets on each hip, or the more formal style that was boned in a complete oval around the waist. A mustard-yellow quilted petticoat rests on a chair, and a brocade jacket peeks from a drawer. The jumps were copied from an original pair in the collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. The 1780 stays and "pocket hoops" were constructed using a pattern from Corsets and Crinolines by N. Waugh (pg.42). Quilted petticoat design from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1 . ST & LS.




This vividly-colored Robe a la Française illustrates the richness and elaborate decoration seen on formal dress of the last half of the century. Both gown and petticoat are made of coral and multi-colored striped silk moire. Over twenty-five yards of intricate, hand-made "fly fringe" trimming curve and meander over the bodice and gown edges of the outfit. Hundreds of wrapped-thread flowers are sewn to a "vine" of green and coral braid, co-ordinating with the colors of the striped silk fabric. The Stomacher is embroidered with a rich textured surface of ruched silk ribbons, hand-made silk flowers, and baroque curves of yet more floss-thread flowers. The double pagoda sleeves are gathered and edged with flowered trim, and have white lace ruffles attached. Based on Diagram XIX in The Cut of Women's Clothes, by Norah Waugh. Trim adapted from examples in Fashion in Detail, Hart & North LS

#15 FORMAL SUIT c.1740-1750

During the first half of the century, the componants of the gentleman's clothing were often "en Suite", that is, of the same material: wool for daywear, and silk or satin, laced and embroidered, for evening or ceremonial ocassions. This matching suit of emerald green silk brocade features a collarless coat with a flared, knee-length skirt and large pleated side vents. Full sleeves and large cuffs were typical of the 1st half of the 18th century. The waistcoat is similar in cut to the coat, but sleeveless, and without the large skirt. Matching knee breeches complete the outfit. Coat and waistcoat are trimmed in wide gold braid, a formal yet restrained and masculine ornamentation for the bright green floral brocade. Ornamental buttons and gold-edged buttonhole slits highlight the front and cuffs of the coat and the long waistcoat front. Based on Diagram XVIII, The Cut of Men's Clothes, N. Waugh. LS

#16 FORMAL SUIT on bed c.1775-1780

By the late 18th century, the gentlman's suit took on a uniform appearance, and was distinguished in its use according to the fabric and ornamentation. Coats were slim and elegant, with small cuffs and 'cut-away' sloped-back front edges. Waistcoats had shortened to hip-length, with slanted fronts, and even breeches were cut tighter, producing and overall neat, elegant appearance. Formal fabrics were sumptuous.

This purple velvet coat, though restrained in color, is stylishly bordered along the front, collar, cuffs and pockets in dull gold metallic trim and matte gold flattened sequins ; matching custom-made buttons add further dimension. Coat based on French court coat, In Style, p 19 MMA. LS


This Gentleman's waistcoat is typical of the styles of the 1770's. It is done in fine-woven antique linen, to a common pattern of the era. The floral designs of carnations, lilies, anemones and tulips are taken from an 18th century border design. Just as in the 18th century, "custom work" could be ordered, and in this case the life cycles of specific kinds of butterflies and moths were incorporated in the design.

The embroidery incorporates a number of different stitches, and is done in colored cotton threads. Waistcoat inspired by late 18th c."insect" waistcoat; The 18th Century Woman, MMA p.15 Adapted from a pattern in the Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900 N.Waugh. LS

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