Getting dressed in the 18th century – working woman



the layer worn next to the skin was the shift this was made from linen and washable it also served as a night dress cleanliness mattered the shift was changed as often as was practical and women would usually have two shifts as a minimum a simple daily wash was probably usual drawers were not necessary for privacy as the petticoats were many long and hung close to the body women wore knitted stockings that drew up over the knee they were sometimes embellished with a design called clocks which helped conceal the seam at the ankle a simple garter was tied beneath the knee to hold them in place shoes were low and practical it was important to put on the stockings and shoes before this days as they made it difficult once laced for the woman to reach her feet with ease the purpose of stays in the 18th century was to support the bust rather than to restrict the waist the stays created a fashionable outline which also mattered to the working woman working stays were plain had less stiffening and could lace up both front and back for ease of dressing and movement these days were sometimes called a pair of bodies and the addition of a stomach ER at the front concealing any gap made them seemly should the woman need to remove layers due to heat or hard work pockets were bags worn singly or in pairs tied about the waist by a cord or ribbon they could be accessed through openings in the side of the petticoats the petticoats were very simply made from two rectangles of fabric gathered or pleated into a waistband front and back with long ties gaps were left at the sides to reach into the pockets this style of petticoat was adjustable and would cope with pregnancy and the return of the figure without new clothes being required the outermost petticoat was hard wearing it may have been made in a brighter color wool or even a printed linen or cotton in winter a quilted petticoat was often worn hair was usually brushed back and tied up and out of the way at the back of the head a neckerchief was worn to cover the low neckline for warmth or to protect the skin from sun this could be tucked into the stays at the front to keep it in place a jacket or short gown was worn over the stays and petticoats this could be simply and safely closed with straight pins that wove through the fabric with the point tucked in words towards the sturdy stays this was another adjustable garment that could cope with a changing figure the jacket sleeves were short ending at a practical below elbow level an apron was a vital part of working dress it helped to keep the clothes clean offered a place to wipe hands and protect them when carrying hot pots aprons also provided a means of carrying bulky Spillville goods such as vegetables or logs a white linen cap was usually worn in public it was kept in place by ties or if the woman could afford it a pretty colored silk ribbon tied into a bow at the top of the head the petticoat hem finished above the ankle at a height which allowed a woman to climb or descend the stairs with her arms free for carrying in winter long fingerless knitted gloves were worn to make up the gap left by the short jacket sleeves hooded cloaks or Riding Hood's were the usual outdoor wear for all women from the mid 18th to the early 19th century scarlet wool cloaks became so popular with English country women that they are the closest England came to a traditional dress the cloak was sometimes called a cardinal because of its bright red color the cloaks are also immortalized in the nursery tale Little Red Riding Hood

43 thoughts on “Getting dressed in the 18th century – working woman

  1. Love it .. though it look likes hard to wear those layers of fabric with a Long ribbon..

    But i love ribbons😊😍😍

    And now I'm thinking how the earth suffering from wrecking the ozone layer..

    Before they can wear as much as long clothes… Because its cold and not like the sunny day now .. that's why years pass.. and change the way of people wearing.. it became shorter …😅😅😅

  2. How do people deal with having those puffy sleeves jamed in to tight jacket sleeves? It makes my arms hurt just to watch her put on that jacket.

  3. OMG I never knew this…..on top of it they had no washing machines. Did you notice no shower…and just dressing over her night shir………………..and a quick splash on the face………………………..the clothes stunk.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong…
    But I think today I have learned that people from the past somehow were immune to heatstroke since they wore about ten layers every day…

  5. Okay but does anyone else got reminded of Lilly Linton from this? Storm and Silence enthusiasts where you at?

  6. image putting this all on, and after working for an hour…. “ oh god my 2nd petticoat came untied” and u had to do it all over again

  7. The petticoats were made to accommodate pregnancy, but what about the stays? Wouldn’t those get in the way of the unborn child developing inside its mother?

  8. I wouldn't have had a good reputation in those days as I am sure I would have refused to wear anything restrictive. I never was into jeans because they felt to restrictive, I couldn't stand tight clothes. I'd refuse a corset, all together. I can't relax when wearing a bra – I won't even try to sleep in one. I probably would have worn those loose clothes in the 14th century on a day to day bases and only dress appropriately in public.
    It's kinda how it is now.
    I do however find so many of these clothes so beautiful.

  9. What work she would be able to do after so much layering…if she cant bend to wear shoes or stockings

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