Robe à l’anglaise and quilted petticoat, 1770s

Dresses in the 18th century were often designed to showcase the textiles. This particular textile is brocaded which means that the colored threads that appear in the floral motifs do not extend the whole width of the fabric. Looking at the reverse of the textile is the easiest way to identify this technique. This handwoven brocaded fabric was so valuable that every effort was made to use the entire width without cutting away waste pieces. The edge of the fabric or selvedge was left intact, leaving a neat finish. Open robes like this had no fastenings down the center front. The bodice would have been stitched closed when the wearer was dressed, while the skirt would have remained open down the front to reveal the petticoat beneath.

The skirt worn under the open robe was called a petticoat although it was meant to be seen when the outerskirts were lifted. While the outer layer of this petticoat is a fine silk satin, the inner face is a loosely woven wool. The batting between the quilted layers is also wool and would have kept the wearer warm during the winter. The skirt and petticoat have openings at each side to allow access to the pockets, which would not have been attached to the skirt. Instead they were like flat purses worn inside of the skirt

1. Robe à l’anglaise
European, 1770s
Iridescent purple silk with brocaded flowers, lined with linen, silk hem facing, linen tapes
Gift of Ross Trump in memory of his mother, Helen Watts Trump, KSUM 1995.68.1

2. Blue satin quilted petticoat
European, ca. 1750-75
Blue silk satin, wool lining, woolen batting, linen waistband
Silverman/Rodgers Collection, KSUM 1983.1.3

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