Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ombre dye

Do you remember during the Winter Olympics how I mentioned Ombre dyed dresses? Well, the other day, I was home sick and I watched Martha Stewart: she happened to make an Ombre Dyed scarf the craft of the day.

This is the technique she used:

Tools and Materials
  • 2 1/4 yards cotton gauze or cotton cheesecloth
  • Washer and dryer
  • Scissors
  • Large (gallon or more) plastic bucket
  • Soda ash dye fixative
  • Glass jar
  • Procion MX powdered cold-water dye
  • Warm water
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 4-ounce or larger plastic squirt bottle
  • Masking tape
  • 2 13-gallon white plastic garbage bags
  • Latex or plastic gloves
  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler
  • Electric fan (optional)
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread
  • Iron
Scarf How-To
  1. Pre-wash cotton and dry on high heat; it will likely shrink to about 2 yards long. Snip a small slit in the center of one of the short sides of the cotton; grasp fabric on each side of the slit, and rip down the length to create two long scarves.
  2. Prepare dye solutions: In a large plastic bucket, mix 8 tablespoons soda ash dye fixative into one gallon of warm water. In a glass jar, mix 3 teaspoons powdered dye with 1/2 cup warm water.
  3. Soak undyed cotton scarves in soda ash solution for 30 minutes or more.
  4. While cotton is soaking, decant dye into a 4-ounce or larger plastic squirt bottle. Mark the top of the dye level on the outside of the bottle with a strip of masking tape; place another strip of tape approximately halfway between the first piece and the bottom of the bottle.
  5. Cut two 13-gallon white garbage bags along the seams, and spread out on a flat surface, overlapping the long ends by about 1 foot to create a clean, waterproof work area.
  6. Wearing gloves, thoroughly wring out soaked cotton and spread out on garbage bags, folded in half so that the short edges are matched together.
  7. With a permanent marker, make a mark on the garbage bag about every 6 inches, from the edges of the scarf to the fold.
  8. Begin dyeing at the edges of the scarf, squirting the dye in a zigzag motion along the first 6 inches, until the dye has reached the halfway point you have marked. With gloved hands, spread and blend dye to cover the first six inches.
  9. Refill dye bottle to top mark with water.
  10. Dye the second 6 inches in a zigzag motion as before, using the dye down to the halfway point and blending into the first six inches with gloved fingers. Refill the dye bottle to the top mark with water. Repeat this process, using half the dye and refilling with water, for each of the remaining sections. Blend all sections into each other with gloved hands and fingers.
  11. Allow dyed scarf to sit on garbage bags until about halfway dry (a fan can be used to speed this along). Fold garbage bags and scarf in half lengthwise, and then roll up scarf within garbage bags. Place rolled scarf somewhere warm -- near (not on) a radiator or in a sunny window -- for 12 to 24 hours.
  12. Unroll scarf and remove from garbage bags. Rinse excess dye from scarf, starting with hot water and slowly transitioning to cold, until water runs clear.
  13. Machine-wash scarf in hot water with a mild detergent; dry on high heat.
  14. Hem scarf with a baby hem:
    Turn and press a 1/2-inch hem all around scarf. Machine-stitch around scarf, very close to fold of hem. Carefully trim excess fabric, right up to stitching.
    Turn edges again, this time creating about an 1/8-inch hem. With hem side up, sew all around edges again, following and stitching over the earlier stitch line.
  15. Press scarf with a warm iron. Alternatively, create a crinkled look by spraying scarf with water, folding in half and twisting from both ends, and allowing scarf to dry while twisted. Untwist scarf and shake out.

(Source: Ombre Scarf, The Martha Stewart Show, March 2010)

Of course, there are other Ombre dying techniques out there: one is to use a spray bottle (any old household version will do, as long as it is clean).

Another is to use two dye baths simultaneously, soaking each end of your fabric in one.

I can't wait to try these techniques (although I'm sure my Sweetheart can - he's never thrilled with my dyeing experiences). Imagine the beautiful fairy dresses I could make!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chocolate Fashion Show

As we all know, the French know and love chocolate. (Incidentally, I am of French descend and I love chocolate.) As we also know, Paris is an important Fashion Capital.

That is way every October, the Salon du Chocolat, an event mixing both these passions is organized: the Défilé Tendances Chocolat. Renowned designers pair up with important Chocolat houses to create edible, wearable art. These creations are presented in a Fashion show where they are worn by French Stars; all proceeds from this show goes to a children’s charity.

Anne Richard at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Faustine Bollaert at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Daphné Bürki at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat wearing a chocolate studded dress, designed by Marithé & François Girbaud and made with the help of French chocolate maker La Pralus

Virginie De Clausade at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Dominique Magloire at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Daniela Lumbroso at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat in a Turandot-inspired creation made by chocolatiers Philippe Pascoet et Christophe Guillarme

Lara Fabian at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Corinne Touzet at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat sporting a chocolate creation designed by Agatha Ruiz de la Prada with a handbag from chocolatier La Maison Bonnat

Coralie Clément at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Marie Fugain at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Carole Brana at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat

Laetitia Rey at the 2009 Défilé Tendances Chocolat showing off a chocolate outfit designed by Eva Rachline and made with the help of French chocolate maker Magnum

Interesting designs! Not something you can wear in the summer heat, but hey, you can't always get everything in life!

Hmm... Now I'm hungry!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Interview with a Costumer: Nancy-Raven

Do you by any chance remember the contest I announced on January 1st? You were supposed to tell me what I should make with a gorgeous piece of silk I found for a bargain. No? I’m not surprised, I only got one answer. I expected more from you my readers, but since I posted it during a post-project archive update (I bet you are used to those by now!), I guess you just missed it, so I forgive you.

As I said, I only got one answer and it was from my best friend, the well known (on this blog anyways) Nancy-Raven. I didn’t end up making what she had suggested (mostly because she said a baby dress and there is no way I’m putting silk on a drooling baby, but also because I got into another project), but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get her prize, to be featured here on the very first “Interview with a Costumer” post.

I have to say, I’m glad she’s the one to be my guinea pig for this; always best to test on your friends before trying things like that with complete strangers!

Nancy-Raven wearing her "Fenice" gown, August 2004

Name and/or Alias: Nancy-Raven Hellfire
Where in the world are you? Québec, Canada

How long have you been into costuming?

It depends whether you count from the time I started to be interested in costumes or from when I began making my own, but I’d say roughly 8 to 10 years.

Gwenyver in her "Arwen's Dying Gown" and Nancy-Raven in her "Eowyn's Shield Maiden" costume, August 2004

How did you come about Costuming?

By my Best Friend [your host] who convinced me it was better to make them yourself, not only because you save money, but also because you get so many more possibilities when you can choose everything yourself (fabric, trim, style, etc.)

Note: At the time, Nancy-Raven wore Modern Medieval clothing from the local stores almost exclusively outside of work. A laced bodice was easily 70$ and I couldn’t believe she spent so much money on such a small item of clothing. As with other things, I bugged her often that she should make her own. And today she does, although she wears jeans and t-shirts as street clothes now.

What was the first costume you made?

The first costume I made was a light blue and pink georgette kimono for a Halloween Party. I didn’t sew it* but I choose the fabric and I helped cut it. That project was a turning point for me; it was after that that I seriously got into costuming.

*I did.

Nancy-Raven in her Blue and Pink Kimono Costume

What Costuming Events / Conventions do you usually attend in a year?

It can vary from one year to the next, because there are sometimes new events and there are others I simply don’t go to every year, but generally, there is the Fête de la Nouvelle-France, Otakuthon, the Fête Médiévale de Saint-Colomban, my Halloween Party and on rare occasions, some SCA events.

Where do you get your inspiration?

There is of course television and movies, but also Janet Arnold’s Books. I think in general what inspires me is not so much the costume itself, but the period to which it belongs, as well as the story that goes with it. And of course, there is music: I never sew without listening to some music.

Really? What music do you listen to?

It depends on my mood and the time of day; at night, the music I listen to has to make me feel energetic, not sleepy. There are many Medieval and Renaissance music albums in my music collection as well as a few Celtic ones. Currently I mostly listen to the soundtracks of the TV series True Blood (2008). True Blood: Music From The HBO Original Series, on which you can find the song of the opening credits, Bad Things as well as, True Blood Volume 2 which I recently purchased and I listen to in loop. I don’t have access to my computer or Tele in my sewing room and I need some sort of background noise. Sometimes, the music I listen to inspires and motivates me too.

Burnt Orange Medieval-Fantasy gown and pelisse inspired by The Mists of Avalon (2001), by Nancy-Raven

Where do you shop for Material? (including fabric, accessories, rings for mail, thermo-plastic, etc.)

For fabrics, I go to Fabricville or Club Tissus.
For celtic accessories, I love The
Crafty Celt.
For music and other general accessories, I recommend
The Tudor Shoppe.
And for books, none other than

What type of costumes do you specialize in? (ex.: Anime/Manga, Movie, Historical, Dance, Ethnic, Goth, etc.)

I’d say generally historical and fantasy, but neither type more than the other

What is your favourite Movie, costume wise? Have you made anything from that Movie?

I’d be lying if I said there was one in particular. I really love Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1997) with Sophie Marceau and The Duchess (2008), but I haven’t yet made a costume from either period, mostly because I would want it to be perfect and that would mean making all the underwear, corset, skirt support and petticoats as well.

Nancy-Raven as a 1920's Flapper, Halloween 2008

What is your Favourite Era, Costume Wise?

There isn’t one in particular; it would be too difficult to choose. Still, I do have a certain preference for the Middle Ages, as well as Tudor style, Elizabethan and Victorian periods. Currently, I am especially focused on the 1920’s and the French designer Madeleine Vionnet.

Which one of your creations are you most proud of?

I’d say none :I am eternally unsatisfied and I always see something that needs to be fixed or remade on anything I make. Therefore, there isn’t a creation I can actually say I am prouder of than the rest.

What are you currently working on?

Many different projects; I have a hard time working on only one at a time. I just follow my moods. My main focus for the coming weeks will be simple evening gowns, skirts with matching tops, all meant for going out and some to wear on my next trip.

(The lucky girl is hoping to visit New Orleans in the fall for The Grand Masquerade: A Gala World of Darkness Convention – I’m a little jealous... But I know she’ll bring me back a souvenir.)

Nancy-Raven as an Anglo-Norman at the Fête Médiévale de Saint-Colomban 2009

What is your dream costume?

A Victorian Ball Gown.

What is your dream costuming event?

A Victorian ball such as the one presented in Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1997) or The Young Victoria (2009).

Re-creations or Original designs?

A little of both.

Historical or Fantasy?

More historical.

Hand Sewing or Sewing Machine?

Sewing Machine

Fabric or solid materials ?

Fabric, definitely.

Nancy-Raven and Gwenyver as Scots, Fête Médiévale de Saint-Colomban 2007

Anything else you would like to share?

I think all you need to be a good costumer is a time and practice. I can only hope that with both I will one day reach a point where I am satisfied with myself. Costuming is a way to get into a character’s skin; it is a moment of pure magick and dream. To be a costumer is to create those dreams and that magick.

I also intend, with my dear friend Gwenyver, to set up a costumers group encompassing all styles of costumes, a little like a costumer’s guild, and organize themed events for members. It’s another way to get an excuse to make costumes, while at the same time sharing your passion with like minded individuals.*

*We're working on it!

Thank you Nancy-Raven for being my first subject for this interview. Comments? Questions? Who's next?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Playboy Bunny

Note: The following post contains mature subject matter (although there are no “wardrobe malfunction” photos present). Reader discretion is advised. (Can you tell I hear this message often on Tele?)

Not all adult bunny costumes look bad (in reference to what I said yesterday). I’ve always been a fan of one type in particular: the Playboy Bunny Costume. You know the one, the black satin corset / bodice, the fishnet tights, the white collar and cuffs, the bow tie, the heels, and of course, the bunny ears.

Playboy Bunnies

Playboy Bunnies are a bit like Geisha in their duties (they are there to entertain), but with a very North American flavour (okay, so Bunnies are a bit less demure and coy *cough* than Geisha if only by their costume - I love Geisha and am not trying to insult their tradition, but I see a certain parallel between the two).

According to Wikipedia:

The Playboy Bunny outfit was the first service uniform registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (U.S. trademark registration number 0762884). The costume was made from rayon-satin constructed on a merry widow corset. Satin bunny ears, cotton tails, collars with bow ties cuffs with cuff links, black mesh pantyhose and matching high-heeled shoes completed the outfit. A name tag on a satin rosette was pinned over the right hip bone.

The uniforms were custom made for each Bunny at the club they worked in. Whenever the club was open there was a full time seamstress on duty. The costumes were stocked in two pieces, the front part being pre-sewn in different bra cup sizes such as B or C cup. The seamstress would match the Bunnies' figure to the correct fitting front and back pieces. Then the two pieces were sewn together to fit each person perfectly.

[...]Playboy Enterprises required all employees to turn in their costumes at the end of employment and Playboy has some costumes in storage. Occasionally costumes are offered for sale on the Playboy Auction site or eBay. Some of the costumes on eBay may be counterfeit or damaged in some way. Genuine Bunny costumes in good condition have sold for over $10,000. The only two on public display are in the collections of The Smithsonian and the Chicago History Museum.

Exerpt from Wikipedia - Playboy Bunny: The Bunny Costume.

I first learned of Playboy Bunnies as a child: I don't exactly remember what it was, but I saw a documentary (or a couple minutes of one while my dad was flipping the channels) with a picture of a Bunny in her costume and immediately loved the elegant look. Personally, I feel influenced by some of the vintage 60's photos to make a black one some day.

Hugh Hefner with Playboy Bunnies

Truly, as burlesque costumes goes, it’s not that bad. It has become a popular adult Halloween costume (mostly if you're going clubbing that night) and it has even been integrated in Japanese culture; it is nowadays associated with sexiness

Even Elle Woods (Legally Blond - 2001) wore one (a pink one in her case):

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, Legally Blond (2001)

In the mean time, I’ll keep on wearing my silver Playboy Bunny Earrings for Easter!

Note (yes, another one): This post is only about the costume. By presenting the costume, I am not condoning the way these women were chosen or treated (I know there has been a lot of criticism). In fact, I'm sure it was unfair and probably often downright insulting. But the outfit is lovely and has become an icon, therefore it deserves to be features on this blog.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Worst Costumed Job Ever : Sidewalk Bunny

Next Sunday is Easter. If you hadn’t guessed that it was coming by the incredible quantity of boxed chocolate sculptures at the grocery store and other commerce, you will when you see this character on the sidewalk:

Sidewalk Bunny

Yes people, it is the Easter bunny! Look how he (or she, I can't really tell) waves at passing cars, inviting you in to the store to buy your chocolates!

Seriously, I love costumes and wearing them, but this I would never do. A mascot looks cool, but a teen or adult dressed in a shapeless bunny suit just looks wrong. Sometimes, a costume that looks cute on a kid can be inappropriate for a grown-up.

It is my personal opinion, but it has got to be one of the worst (costumed) jobs ever. It’s barely above the clown clad person inviting people in to new businesses (because the clown usually has to wear make-up in addition to the colourful frilly outfit).
I always feel sorry for the poor bloke.

Note: I meant to snatch a picture of one with my phone, but the battery was dead. The picture presented in this post comes from here and is used only to illustrate the subject of said post. I liked this one because you can't see the person face, so they can keep their anonymity.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie Monday: Clash of the Titans

Hollywood loves remakes! Thankfully some classics are still popular enough today to remain original, but for the rest of the flicks out there, it's a whole other story. Take for instance, today's feature movie: first, there was Clash of the Titans (1981)...

And Friday, we'll have Clash of the Titans (2010).

Notice the subtle differences? (Okay, I'm being sarcastic here.) Hello special effects!

And what about the costumes?

Harry Hamlin as Perseus, Clash of the Titans (1981)

Sam Worthington as Perseus, Clash of the Titans (2010)

Why do modern men fear wearing long robes? Sure, non-period armour is much more useful when fighting for your life, but do you look as stylish?

Notice also the haircuts, which are so much more representative of the time the movie was made than the time it is set in. Movies are such great keepers of fashion trends history... which then become costumes!

Other costumes you can see in the New movie include Gods,...

Ralph Fiennes as Hades and Liam Neeson as Zeus, Clash of the Titans (2010)

...Mysterious ageless women,...

Gemma Arterton as Io, Clash of the Titans (2010)

...the Damsel in Distress,...

Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, Clash of the Titans (2010)

Hmmm, I thing that Peplos is showing a little too much cleevage for a princess of the time. Moving on.

... and of course, some Soldiers!

Mads Mikkelsen as Draco, Clash of the Titans (2010)

I guess an Antiquity-Fantasy (as opposed to a Medieval-Fantasy) might be interesting for a change. After all, the Ancient World is so full of Legends! So nothing historically accurate, but some interesting costumes none of the less.

Costume Design for Clash of the Titans (2010) are by Lindy Hemming who was also responsible for this department on such films as The Dark Knight (2008), Die Another Day (2002), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Topsy-Turvy (1999) , for which she won an Oscar for Best Costume Design, and many more.

Costume Design for Clash of the Titans (1981) were by Emma Porteus who has also worked in the same function for Judge Dredd (1995), Robin Hood (1991), Aliens (1986), Supergirl (1984) and Octopussy (1983) to name only a few.

Funny Factoid: Emma Porteus was Costume Designer for James Bond Movies from Octopussy (1983) to The Living Daylights (1987), while Lindy Hemming has worked on the same franchise from GoldenEye (1995) to Casino Royale (2006).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Robe à la what?

Have you ever wondered what all the 18th century dress names mean? You know, names like Robe à la Française, Robe à l'Anglaise or Robe à la Polonaise? To try to clarify all of these terms, I have prepared a short and not at all exhaustive illustrated lexicon to help you understand what these names refer too.

P.S. This has been a long time in the making!

Robe Volante

Robe Volante, 1720's, Kyoto Costume Institute

Also known as sacque gown, robe battante, innocente, négligé or a flying gown.

This loose fitting gown has pleats at the neckline that fall free to the hem. Worn over a hoop skirt and petticoat was a popular fashion for women in the early 1700’s. Originally considered to be an "undressed" look (after the death of
Louis XIV, people went for a more casual look for a while), it would eventually evolve into the French gown.

Robe à la Française

Yellow Robe à la Française, Silk extended tabby (Gros de Tours) with liseré self-patterning and brocading in silver lamella and filé, England (Spitalfields), Rococo, 1750s, Royal Ontario Museum, ROM2004_1034_6

Also known as Contouche or Sack-back.

The Robe Volante evolved from being loose all around to having a fitted bodice, draped skirt and structures box pleats at the back called
Watteau pleats by modern historians, having been named after Antoine Watteau, a French painter who portrayed that fashion in his paintings.

Basically, all these names (Battante, Volante, Contouche, etc.) represent a step in the evolution of one dress over the course of a century.

Robe à l'Anglaise

Dress (Robe à l'anglaise), 1784–87FrenchCotton, metal, silk; L. at center back 36 in. (91.4 cm)The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1991 (1991.204a, b)

Also known as an English Nightgown

The Robe à l'Anglaise evolved in England from the
Mantua. While the French enjoyed a simpler fashion after the death of the Sun King, the English kept their formality. Robe à l'Anglaise usually refers to a gown with a set-in waist, whether it is en fourreau or not.

Robe à la Polonaise

Robe Retroussée dans les Poches, c. 1780, Kyoto Costume Institute

Also know as Robe à la Reine and Robe Retroussée dans les Poches. A Polonaise is easily recognizable by its picked up skirt. Usually, is gathered up to create three distinct semi-circular drapes. Generally, both petticoat and dress’ skirt had flounces at the hem. You can transform any opened skirt dress into a polonaise; very practical when your dress becomes too short for you, as a Polonaise’s hem could reach as high up as the ankles! Variations on the Polonaise have also been called Robe à la Turque and Robe à la Circassienne.

Robe de Court

Court dress, ca. 1750; British Blue silk taffeta brocaded with silver thread
Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1965 (C.I.65.13.1a-c

Simply put, the Robe de Court was a gown made primarily for court.

Redingote gown

Sir Joshua Reynolds. Lady Worsley. 1776. Oil on canvas. 236 x 144 sm. Earl and Countess of Harewood, Harewood House, Yorkshire, UK.

Redingote, from the English "Riding Coat", was originally a men’s fashion item, but it was eventually adapted for women as a long coat with high collar, with or without lapels, and long sleeves. It was either paired with a waistcoat or made with a fake waistcoat piece at the front and was worn over a modified version of a men’s shirt complete with jabot. It was worn not only for horseback riding, but also as a travelling gown.


Caraco Jacket and embroidered Petticoat/Skirt, Kyoto Costume Institute

A Caraco is a woman’s jacket which is very similar in form to either the Robe à l'Anglaise or the Robe à la Française, but is no longer than mid-thighs. Originally reserved to the working class, it was adopted by the upper class by the late 1760’s.

Chemise à la Reine

Marie Antoinette by Vigée le Brun, 1783

First know as a Gaulle, this refers to the new style of softer, lighter dresses popularized by Marie Antoinette in the 1780’s and renamed after her. Such dresses sport a wide frill at the neckline, and sometimes at the hem, large sleeves gathered at both shoulder and cuff and are always white and worn with a colourful sash. Comfort of comforts for the period, they were worn without panniers. A wide brimmed straw hat is a highly recommended accessory when wearing a Chemise à la reine.

Robe à la Levantine

Robe à la Levantine, 1779, Eighteenth-century French fashion plates in full colour, Edited by Stella Blum

A Robe à la Levantine is an unfitted, fur trimmed robe with short sleeves worn over a tight fitting gown. It was inspired by the Near East, which can be explained by the popularity of Orientalism in the 18th century.

Manteau de Lit

Manteau de lit, L'art du tailleur by Garsault, published in the 1760s

Literally meaning "Bed Gown". This is another type of short jacket, very loose fitting this time and made from a minimum of pieces; the half bodice, skirt and half sleeve were cut in only one piece and the skirt was pleated at the sides and center back. It was almost exclusively worn by the working class, although there have been instances of bedgowns made of fancier fabrics worn by nobles in their boudoir.

Zone Front

Zone Front Dress, 1790's, Kyoto Costume Institute

This is a modern term used to describe a bodice style that became fashionable in the 1780’s. A zone front bodice has as been cut at an angle from the side towards the neckline at the center front; it is completes with a false waistcoat front. Zone fronts can be considered an upside-down stomacher.

Compère Front

A compère front is a stomacher which buttons down the front; some compère fronts also used hook and eye as closure. The compère stomacher can be sewn to the dress or pinned like an original stomacher, in which case the buttons might only be there for decorative purposes and serve so actual function.

Robe en Fourreau

Robe à l'Anglaise en Fourreau by La Costumière Hystérique

This term is used to describe a specific type of construction, when the center back bodice and skirt are cut as one big piece, whereas the other pieces are separates as usual. En Fourreau patterning can be sued for Robe à l’Anglaise of Robe à la Polonaise.


Superb English stomacher c.1730, Vintage Textile

The stomacher is a stiff piece off fabric, triangular in shape, which filled in the gap between both sides of the Robe by covering the stomach and chest. It was often highly decorated with embroidery, lace ribbons, rushing and sometimes even fringe. It was pinned on the stays or corset, while the gown’s sides where pinned over its edge.


Full-length portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour (1748-55), Pastel on gray-blue paper with gouache highlights, the face is cut out and mounted on the paper, 177 × 130 cm (69.68 × 51.18 in), Purchased by Paillet and sent to the Special Museum of the French School in Versailles, 1804, Department of Prints and Drawings; Sully, Second Floor, 18th-century Pastels, Room 45

Engageantes are the flounces at the sleeve cuff of a woman’s gown. Usually made of lace, they were attached to the chemise until long sleeves became in fashion in the 177o’s. Depending on the wearer’s wealth, engageantes could be made up of many layers.


French crewel embroidered linen skirt, c.1790 from Vintage Textile

A Petticoat is the under-skirt worn with an open gown or a jacket. Shorter petticoats could also be worn under the main petticoat to camouflage the angles of the panniers and make the top layers look smoother of for warmth in the cold weather.


Marie Antoinette of France by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Used by both men and women, wigs came in different colours and could be styled in advance. Although not easy to put on by oneself, they could be changed according to the occasion. If one considers the crazy Poufs that Marie Antoinette helped popularize, wigs, combined with the lady’s own hair, became necessary to achieve such looks.


Blue Gown with Tricorn Hat, Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette (2006)

The tricorne is a wide brimmed hat which sides have been turned up on three sides to direct the rain away from the wearer’s face. Originally worn only by the military, it became popular for civilian dress as well shortly before the French revolution.


Woman's Cap by Tory Tailor & Mercantile

The bonnet or cap comes in many forms and wears many names: Bonnet à la Crète de Coq, Bonnet à la Laitière, Bonnet à la Moresque, Bonnet à la Victoire, Bonnet Demi-Négligé, Bonnet Négligé, etc. They all have one thing in common: they are soft headwear and are meant for the home if one is noble, and for everyday wear for the working class.


18th century French Chemise

The first layer of under clothing, the Chemise or shift was almost always made of white linen and was cut square, with side gores. It was about knee length and had elbow length sleeves to which lace could be attached; in the later periods, lace was also attached to the neckline and could be seen at the gown’s neckline. It also served as a nightgown.


Silk Taffeta Stays, mid 18th century, by The Staymaker

The corset of the time, stays served not to change the wearer’s shape (it was actually wider at the hips), but to flatten the stomach and push up the chest. A special pocket could be made downs the center front to insert a busk, a flat piece of wood, which added to the flattening function of the stays.


Panniers, ca. 1750, British, Tan linen and baleen, Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1973 (1973.65.2)

Panniers is the name used for the skirt support which changed and evolved throughout the century. It started as a cone shaped hoop skirt and became the wide flat support of Marie Antoinette. Types of pannier include: pannier à guéridon (funnel-shaped), pannier à coudes, pannier janséniste, considérations, criarde, à bourrelets (flaring), à coupole (dome-shaped).


Late 18th Century Pocket by ~waxesnostalgic

Worn under the Panniers, pockets were bags worn on each hip which served as a modern day handbag for handkerchiefs and fans (purses were meant for coins and small items). They were usually made of white linen and embroidered with colourful designs. Embroidered pockets were often the first embroidery project a young girl got to work on as she learned the craft.

Pocket Hoops

Lady putting on Pocket Hoops

Pocket hoops are a combination of Pockets and Panniers.


Whew! This took forever to write, but at least I'm sure you'll all find this information very useful. Glad to be of service!