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The fashion style of the 18th century was a reflection of the morals of the time. Most folks dressed conservatively. Women for instance showed very little skin, but accentuated their figures. Men wore clothes that advertised their trade or business occupations. 

This "dress code" was a left over of the trade guilds of the 16th and 17th centuries. One can see this in the paintings and drawings of the times. To be sure, you could tell a businessman from the laborer by the way they dressed.

In the 18th century, wigs, specifically powdered wigs were in fashion. Both men and women wore them, especially the upper classes and royalty. These wigs were usually powdered white.

Several Web sites cover 18th century fashion. Some of these Web sites have histories of fashion. Others are merchant Web sites that sell patterns or completed clothing. Some Web sites cater to the reenactment enthusiasts; others work with theaters and movie production companies.

The first Web site to visit is The History of Costume - Index. This is an index of plates from a book on fashion history. The book written in the Victorian era, for this reason, the images are decidedly Victorian in nature and view. These plates give a general idea of what the fashions of the period looked like.

You can purchase 18th and 19th Century Historic Clothing Patterns from the James Townsend & Son, Inc.Web site. It shows prices and ordering information. This is a good place for Living Historians. Another part of this site offers 18th and 19th Century hats and bonnets.

Living history museums are another place to see the fashion of the times. At Colonial Williamsburg, you can see what people did and how they dressed.

The Milliner was the place to go to get fabrics and other accessories for your wardrobe.

Shoes were made to order in the 18th century. You had to go to the Boot and Shoemaker to order your new shoes.

To be fashionably dressed in the 18th century meant dressing from the head down. The exact dress of the head was as important as any other article or garment in the mode of the day. Therefore, you would go to the Wigmaker to get your wig.

Website Resources

For more information on 18th century fashion, check out these resources on the topic. I have included some websites for visitors that maybe living historians or reenactors, they are included only for their informative value.

General Information

Costumer's Manifesto
This website by Tara Maginnis Ph.D. has great information on clothing of all eras of history.

Introduction to Clothing
The folks at Colonial Williamsburg introduces you to 18th century clothing on this section of their website.

18th Century Fashion (Category)
The Wikipedia website has several articles about clothing history and they have kindly categorized it for easier navigation.  This is the category page for 18th century fashion.

Glossary of 18th Century Clothing Terms
This site gives the reader definitions of 18th century clothing terms with included illustrations of the terms and how they were used.

18th Century Clothing
The website has this section on 18th century clothing.  It includes information on French, English and Colonial America fashion.

For the History Reenactor

Smiling Fox Forge
This website is a business website that deals in 18th Century Reproductions of clothing and other material. 

Jas, Townsend and Son inc.
This company has been in business for over 35 years.  They have provided their wares to movie productions, living historians and the general public.

18th Century Clothing Tips
This article by Lauri Shillings, gives the reader tips on how to aquire the 18th century look for both men and women. Note: This article is on the Tippecanoe County Historical Association website.

These are just a few websites that you can visit and learn about 18th century fashion. For more information on this topic, check out the Society and Culture Internet resources section on this site.