The Secrets of Getting Dressed as an 18th-Century Woman
Lady Jane Mathew and Her Daughters, unknown artist, 1790. Courtesy the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Being an 18th-century woman was no cake walk. Just look at what it took to get dressed each morning. The National Museums Liverpool—with the help of the museum's costume curator, Pauline Rushton—created a video showing how a wealthy woman in the 1700s would have gotten dressed.
It’s no wonder that any woman who could afford it would have a maid to help her get dressed, as some of the garments couldn’t even be fastened without the help of another person. While we may be familiar with the concept of corsets and petticoats, there was a whole lot more going on underneath those voluminous dresses. For one thing, women wore detachable pockets tied around their waists, hidden under their skirts. (If only we still had those.) Then there were hip pads made of wool or cork designed to lift the skirts and make women’s waists look small.
Yet one aspect of modern layering was missing: underwear. According to the National Museums Liverpool, English women didn’t start wearing skivvies until the 19th century, as they were considered masculine.
The video is a full seven-and-a-half minutes long, which appears to be the bare minimum amount of time it would take a lady to get dressed if she and her maid were totally focused on the task at hand.
[h/t Boing Boing]