Have you ever wondered how long it took an 18th-century lady to get dressed? Check out this short video and you might just be surprised.
Check out this short video by The National Museums Liverpool and you’ll be shocked at just how many layers and accessories an 18th-century lady needed to don to make herself presentable.
The outfit shown in this video is based on one of the figures in the Joshua Reynold's painting Mrs. Paine and her Daughters. The maid’s outfit is modelled on La Belle Chocolatière by Jean-Etienne Liotard.
Starting with her basic linen shift, she might require the assistance of a maidservant to fasten the stays (also known as the corset), then the petticoats, stockings, garters, padded bum rolls and kerchiefs before finally finishing with a fine silk gown. (There were even secret, removable pockets!)
The only thing missing: underwear. According to the gallery’s website, English women didn’t start to wear undies until the early years of the 19th century: “During the 18th century, drawers were considered unhygienic and too masculine for women because men wore them under their knee-breeches. It took a long time for them to become accepted in England, with some women only adopting them as late as the 1830s.”
* Originally published in August 2017. Updated in 2022.