18th century winter clothing
My 18th century winter clothing
With their high ceilings, ill-fitting windows, and lack of central plumbing and heating, people in the 18th and 19th centuries had to make do with draughty and leaky homes. Gathering fuel and sustaining fires in open fire areas required a lot of preparation and effort. Most of the heat was lost through the chimneys, and draughts were still a problem. Standing in front of a fire without the use of room and fireplace screens, a person may feel both hot and cold at the same time. Many a fashionable regency woman wearing a thin muslin gown covered only by a Norwich shawl will catch a deadly cold or pneumonia from wearing such insufficient covering. This occurrence was so widespread in the early nineteenth century that it was dubbed “muslin disease.” Rakehell is a character in the game Rakehell.
It was difficult to fly in the winter. Many people sat outdoors, open to the weather, in unheated carriages and conveyances. For those who could afford it, a footwarmer and fur blanket draped over layered winter clothing helped to keep the cold at bay, but most people had to bundle up and cope with the weather as it came. Abigail Adams explains winter travel conditions in the colonies, which were similar to those on most roads in England at the time, in a letter to her husband John in 1798:
Getting dressed in the 18th century – men
“Throughout the 18th century, the hat, waistcoat, and breeches remained the primary uniform for men’s formal and casual wear. This coat can be traced back to the early 1700s. The subdued shade of brown in fine wool, as well as the silver-gilt embroidery, are both popular for the date and for English men’s wear. Coats were knee-length until the 1730s, with full pleats at the sides and buttons that went all the way to the hem. The cuffs were modified to the 1750s”mariner’s” style, meaning that the coat was worn by two generations of owners. In the 1740s, formal daywear for men included a coat and waistcoat. The coat is made of a rich shot green and black silk cloth. By the 1740s, the waistcoat had become shorter than the coat. It’s made of yellow silk brocaded with silver and coloured silk threads. The brocaded pattern is characteristic of Late Baroque architecture, with large flowers and leaves tightly covering the cloth. The coat has no collar. It has rather full skirts pleated to the sides at the waist and fits closely to the body. The sleeve cuffs are long and thick, reaching halfway up the elbow. The waistcoat is often sleeved, which is typical of the early 18th century, though this style was starting to fade by the 1740s.”
Winter hike in 17th century highlander clothing. scotland
So, imagine you’re a woman who has traveled back in time to the 18th century in the dead of winter and wants to warm up…quickly! First and foremost, let’s double-check that you’re appropriately attired. If you’re a trendy lady like the young lady pictured above in her swan-decorated, man-driven sleigh, you have less options than if you’re a lower-class lady. Your silk gowns have a low-cut bodice and sleeves that end at your elbows. Wearing woolen stockings and quilted petticoats under your skirt, as well as a woolen waistcoat over your corset and beneath your gown, will offer some relief. Tucking your hands inside a fur muff will keep your hands warm. The size of your fur muff rises significantly throughout the 18th century, and it becomes a status symbol. The bigger your muff, the richer you are. Some French women were also known to wear small dogs within their colossal muffs. That will probably add another layer of warmth as well! If you’re still cold and need to cover up your lovely gown, consider an elbow-length fur-lined cape. You can cover your head with a thin scarf, but your formal wigs would double in size if you arrive in the latter quarter of the century.
Getting dressed in the 18th century – working women in
Many women in the early 1700s owned no more than 2-4 outfits. Their garments were usually made of wool or linen, and they were all hand-sewn. Elbows and knees had to be hidden at all times due to the fashions of the day! Since germs had not yet been identified and the connections between dirt, bacteria, and disease had not yet been established, cleanliness standards were very different than they are today. As a result, clothing was not washed regularly, and certain things that did not come into contact with the skin, such as a gown, were never washed!
A linen change that acts as both a nightgown and a slip will be worn. A woman can only have two or three of them. She would wear her shift all day and night, sometimes for weeks or months at a time, particularly in the winter. Since underpants did not exist at the time, a woman would wear nothing underneath her shift!
All wore over-the-knee socks, referred to as “stockings.” Hand-knitted of wool or linen, they were common. Stockings were kept up with garters because elastic had not yet been invented. These garters could be made of ribbon, knitted, or leather strips, and they could be worn above or below the knee, with a tie or buckle. Garters made of cloth tape that tie on are worn by this lady.