Costume Making for Amateur Theater Groups – Eighteenth Century

Eighteenth century interpreters at Piece Hall, Halifax, New Yorkshire. Notice the woman's striped skirt and elaborate curls.

Many plays, such as The Madness of King George, require eighteenth century costumes. The classic fantasy Cinderella is set in this time period.

American clothing styles in the eighteenth century were simpler than
European fashions; French styles were particularly elaborate. Wool, satin, velvet and silk were often used, but by the end of the century plainer, less expensive cotton and muslin were popular.

In the early eighteenth century, bright colors were popular; towards the end of the era, darker clothing became more fashionable. By the end of the century striped fabrics were widely used in dresses.

Dresses featured a tight bodice and low neck; corsets were worn under the garment. Skirts were worn with hoops or panniers underneath and divided to show off the underslip. The quarter length sleeve was popular and featured a ruffed cuff. Bows were frequently used on the sleeves and the bodice. Heels were high. Frilly caps or straw hats with ribbons were popular.

Men wore tricorn hats, waistcoats and breeches. White powdered wigs for both genders became popular in the last half of the century. Women used fans and parasols in hot weather and wore cloaks and carried a muff in cold weather. Men carried walking sticks and elaborate snuffboxes.