Draping Period Costumes
Much like their male counterparts, the costumes of the women of the early to mid-eighteenth century exhibited a feeling of Rococo buoyancy. In addition to the light, crisp satins and brocades favored by the men, printed and sprigged cottons gained a following, especially in the colonies of the Western hemisphere. Hooped petticoats grew in size and in some cases became quite wide and oblong in shape. The horizontal shape of these panniers could also be created by a separate boned can or side pocket on either side at the hips. In addition to Antoine Watteau (see the Robe a la Francaise later in this chapter), the paintings of Francoise Boucher and the pastels of Maurice Quentin de la Tour provide excellent visual research for the early to the mid-eighteenth century. For the 1780s to 1790s, look at Thomas Gainsborough, Johann Zoffany, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. An exciting new development of the late eighteenth century—the fashion plate (illustration)— greatly expands our opportunity to understand the construction of period costume.
Draping the Robe a l’Anglaise The woman’s Mantua from the previous period developed into two different garments. The Robe a l’Anglaise, or gown in the English style, cut the bodice and skirt in two, from either the CF or the SF, around to the SB seam. The CB panel continued to be cut in one piece from the neck to the floor, pleated, and stitched down to follow the shape of the corseted torso. Sometimes
the skirt was cut completely separate from the bodice and other times it was part of the same piece of fabric which made up either the CF or CB panel or both. In either case, there was always a visible waist seam, at least part of the way around, and the bodice area was fitted all the way around.