Clothes and sewing methods of the 18th century reflected the extremely high cost of materials, and a comparatively low cost of labor, prior to the Industrial Revolution. Everything was made by hand, and the first sewing machine was decades away even at the end of the century. Clothes were made to last, even clothes for the wealthy. I am far from an expert on this period, but I find is fascinating and hope to do more research on it, and make more reproductions of clothing of the period, in the future.
To date, I’ve done research on gentlemen’s topcoats of the late 18th century, with the aim of making a reproduction 1780s caped topcoat for Zachary, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to moving forward on that – I don’t even have fabric. However, I did finish making a mid 18th to early 19th century red wool cloak. Hopefully I’ll be able to do more at some point, but there are so many projects and there’s so little time!
These books are all helpful for studying 18th century clothing:
Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860. New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1978.
Baumgarten, Linda, and John Watson, with Florine Carr. Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Patterns 1750-1790. Williamsburg, Virginia: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2000. In association with Quite Specific Media Group Ltd., New York and Hollywood.
Baumgarten, Linda. What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection. Williamsburg, Virginia: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2002. In association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
Bradfield, Nancy. Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930. Hollywood: Costume & Fashion Press, 2009.
Burnston, Sharon Ann. Fitting & Proper: 18th Century Clothing from the Collection of the Chester County Historical Society. Texarcana, Texas: Scurlock Publishing Co., Inc., 1998.
Davis, R. I. Men’s 17th & 18th Century Costume, Cut & Fashion: Patterns for Men’s Costumes. Additional Material by William-Alan Landes. Studio City, CA: Player’s Press, 2000.
Ewing, Elizabeth. Everyday Dress 1650-1900. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1984.
Fukai, Akiko, Ed. Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century (The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute). 2006 edition published by Barnes & Noble by arrangement. Köln: Taschen, 2006.
Gehret, Ellen J. Rural Pennsylvania Clothing: Being a Study of the Wearing Apparel of the German and English Inhabitants; Both Men and Women; Who Resided In Southeastern Pennsylvania; In the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century. York, Pennsylvania: Liberty Cap Books, 1976.
Lynn, Eleri. Underwear: Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publishing, 2010.
Mackenzie, Althea. Hats and Bonnets, from Snowshill, one of the world’s leading collections of costume and accessories of the 18th and 19th centuries.London: The National Trust, 2004.
Mackenzie, Althea. Shoes and Slippers, from Snowshill, one of the world’s leading collections of costume and accessories of the 18th and 19th centuries.London: The National Trust, 2004.
Miller, Marla R. The Needle’s Eye: Women and Work in the Age of Revolution.Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.
Montgomery, Florence. Textiles in America 1650-1870: A Dictionary based on original documents, prints and paintings, commercial records, American merchants’ papers, shopkeepers’ advertisements, and pattern books with original swatches of cloth. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2007.
Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750-1820. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.
Salen, Jill. Corsets: Historic Patterns and Techniques. Hollywood: Costume & Fashion Press, 2008.
Steele, Valerie. The Corset: A Cultural History. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2001.
Styles, John. The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
Takeda, Sharon Sadako, and Kaye Durland Spilker. Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail 1700-1915. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2010.
Tozer, Jane, and Sarah Levitt. Fabric of Society: A Century of People and their Clothes 1770-1870: Essays inspired by the collections at Platt Hall, The Gallery of English Costume, Manchester. Carno, Powys, Wales: Laura Ashley Limited, 1983.
Waugh, Norah. Corsets and Crinolines. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1970.
Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1964.
Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968.
Updated August 7, 2012.