18th century is an era peculiarly identified withhair and makeup, these became such traits throughout the FrenchRevolution. France and England were the fashion chiefs. In the 18thcentury only the courtesan or actress wore white powder and painted cheeks. The apothecary chemists would supply cosmetics andwigs beneath the counter. Men andwomen continued to lighten their faces and applied glaring pink rouge. This wasapplied heavily in circular or triangular shapes to the cheeks. The lips were littleand rosebud shaped. Women’s eyebrows were plucked, thin and pencilled high.
Theeyebrow could be whichever colour. The hair was curled, waved or frizzed beforestyling to give texture. Styling was efficient with combs and hair curlers which were created frompipeclay and heated in oven before use, clasped with pins, and decoratedwith pomade. 18th century is particularly associated with wigs, but these were essentiallyworn by males.
Wigs were introduced when King-Louis XIII of France started togo bald. The men wore wigs that were powdered to give a particular white/offwhite colour. Women rarely wore full wigs. They would add false hair totheir real hair. Padding, powder, and ornaments in a women’s hair were ordinary.Hairstylesof the 1750s weregenerally small and close to the head.
Hair was worn in soft curls or waves, withlittle to no height. Hair was generally put in small curls, a twist or a pleat. Curlingtongs which were metal with wooden or silver handles, were established at thistime and would be heated before hair was curled into rows of curls. Red makeupswere created of vermilion, vegetable sources for rogue included safflower, woodresin,sandalwood, and Brazil wood.
These would be mixed with greases, creams orvinegars to create a paste. Lips could be reddened with distilled alcohol orvinegar. Feathers, ribbons, jewels, vegetables and other fancy ornaments alsoappeared on top of the head. Hats were popular and very large, made from feltor straw, covered in fabrics, trimmed with lace. Face patches were seen as symbolsof political loyalty, depending on which side a patch was worn. Whigs on theright and Tories on the left. A patch that was worn on the corner of the eyeindicated passion, the centre of the cheek was gay, the nose was saucy, a patchon the upper lip suggested kisses and the forehead was majestic.
A patch wornon a dimple was playful and a murderess wore her patches on her breast. At the beginning of the century,a man’s usual clothing consisted of a full-skirted knee-length coat, kneebreeches a long waistcoat and a linen shirt with frills. Men wore stockings andleather shoes with stacked heels of short height. As the century moved forward,the male silhouette changed. By the middle of the century the wig was usuallytied back. By the end of the century it was no longer a trend. Undergarmentsand knee breeches did not change very much. Coat skirts moderately became lessfull.
Waistcoats became shorter. Shoes became low-heeled with pointed toes andwere secured with detachable buckles. In the early 18th century women wore adress known as a mantua for formal events. It was an open front silk or finewool gown, with a trail and petticoat.
The bodice had elbow length sleeves and spaciouscuffs. A hoop petticoat was worn underneath. A corset was worn beneath.
It wasmade of linen and stiffened with whale bones inserted between lines ofstitching. In the 1730s the ‘sack back’ dress was worn over hooped petticoats.It stayed in fashion until 1780s. The sack back was made from five silk panels,pleated into two box pleats at the centre back of the neck band. Between the1780s and 1800 a restyle took place in the female silhouette. Waistlines becamehigher extending the bust.
Skirts were reduced in width and hoop petticoatswere abandoned. The majority of clothes in the 18th century weremade of silk, cotton, wool and linen. Footwear was made from striped silk, redtassel and woven silk these were usually made from slip on ‘sandal shoes’ withpointed toes. Cotton was sourced from India and linen from flax. Marie-Antoinette was a social influence, embracing hernations fondness for fashion. It was ought not to wear the same outfit twice, iflacking modification. The age of enlightenment was an intellectual manoeuvreand the beginning of modernity.
The development of electricity and philosophymedicine. This presented a challenge to established pious views and emphasized individualism.Science was developing and this was showing through the motion of art andtheatre. Theatre plays were accepted along with art work as a way to pastime.
Members of the audience would pay additional money to sit on the stage,ensuring that their outfits were on show. Depending on howwigs were ornamented, they could reveal a person’s societal. Wealthier peoplecould afford human hair.