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Draping Period Costumes

Toward the end of the eighteenth century, the silhouette of women’s fashion took a decidedly retro turn. Because of the discovery of the preserved Roman ruins at Pompeii earlier in the century, everything classical became the rage. Although the intention was to hearken back to a willowy, Greco-Roman feel, construction techniques could sometimes maintain a high level of complexity. Initially, the high-waisted Chemise Gown was cut in a modified T-shape, its fullness controlled with drawstrings. As the style became more common, bodices were cut separately from skirts and fullness was carefully arranged and sewn into place. These gowns were most often white, off-white, or pastel, sometimes with embroidery or a scattered print. Most women continued to wear light petticoats and corsets underneath. Only the most daring would venture out without. A woman might also wear one of a variety of structured jackets and overgowns, which added a layer of warmth to the woefully inadequate Chemise Gown. Jacques-Louis David (known for his many paintings of Napoleon and Josephine) and Pierre-Paul Prud’hon produced a number of wonderful portraits of women dressed in the neoclassical style.

Draping a Chemise Gown When beginning your drape keep in mind, the lightness of the fabrics used during this period. Cotton batiste or lightweight muslin would be appropriate for your draping fabric. In this case, even a small amount of polyester will completely ruin the line.

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Draping Period Costumes: Classical Greek to Victorian  

Draping Period Costumes: Classical Greek to Victorian  

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