1790s outfit (or I just want to be a fluffy sailing ship)

New era time!

So I’ve said for years I don’t like regency. To my modern eye, it just wasn’t a flattering thing. (Not sure if it hurts or helps my view that you can literally hide a pregnancy there).

Then one day Burnley and Trowbridge posted a few pictures on their Instagram of dresses made of amazing ikat (or warp print or chiné a la branche) fabric on their Instagram:

I immediately went “ooooh I wonder if fabric like that exists today”, poked around at all my usual suspects of online fabric stores, then concluded sadly that of course it did not. (There are so many historical fabrics which straight up are not made any more).

Then a few months later this popped up at one of those stores I peruse for sales on high end fabrics:

It was extremely on sale, but still cost more than any fabric I had ever purchased. I waffled for a day, when my amazing Mother in Law offered to buy me some as a Christmas present, so 2.5 yards were on their way to me for a 1790s open robe!

Now the 1790s is a truly bonkers transitional era. There is something elegant about later regency (think Bridgerton), but 1790s is fully nutso.

For example:

Unfortunately I don’t know the source, it’s one of the fashion plates of the day

Waists had been slowly creeping upward at the end of the Georgian period, and mid 1790s they finally hit underbust. They still have the fullness of being gathered or pleated all the way around so you have this extreme froof plus extreme accessories – which leads to ladies like the one on the left looking rather like a cruise ship in full sail!

Making it easy for me to decide what to make, literally everything was an open robe over a Little White Dress. (yes there are exceptions, don’t @ me)

Short sleeve open robe over long sleeve LWD:

Elbow length open robe over sleevless or short sleeve LWD:

Short sleeve open robe over 3/4 (?) length sleeve LWD, 3/4 (?) length sleeve open robe over unknown-sleeve LWD:

Gallery of Fashion, evening dresses, February 1795. 

Plus a few extants:

Silk open robe with pleated back. V&A. #T.116-1938
Robe, Musée de la Toile de Jouy (according to pinterest, I can’t find a direct link). This one is fascinating for actually being closed in front.

And of course the one at the Met that started it all, that I suspect I’ll end up copying some aspects of:

See more on my Pinterest board.

It seems like you can pretty much mix and match any length sleeve Little White Dress with any length sleeve open robe! Which is making it tricky for me to understand what makes an evening dress vs a day dress. It may come down to quantity of feathers in the hair?

So given this is a new era for me, I need pretty much everything, including undergarments:

  • A chemise/shift (waiting for Willoughby & Rose to be back in stock, because I decided I’m totally over making chemises and would rather pay other people)
  • Stays (Also waiting for Red Threaded to take custom orders again, because I’m so not into this era enough to make my own transitional stays. Luckily for fitting, a balconette bra provides enough of the same lift that I can get started without having these)
  • A petticoat (you can see the lady in the first image lifting up her dress to show the white petticoat underneath)
  • A Little White Dress. I’ve had some tan-spotted ivory cotton/silk voile in my stash for 7 years that will finally get used for this! I’m planning on elbow length sleeves for mine which seem usable for both day and evening wear.
  • The open robe! Still undecided what length of sleeves this will have, although I’m leaning towards sleeveless.

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2 Responses to 1790s outfit (or I just want to be a fluffy sailing ship)

  1. Pingback: 1790s petticoat | Avant Garbe

  2. Pingback: 1790s open robe construction | Avant Garbe

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