5 18th Century Clothing Ideas that Need to Come Back into Fashion

5 18th Century Clothing Ideas that Need to Come Back into Fashion

Style comes back around on itself in a circular motion, right? So it’s about time these five examples of 18th century elegance be incorporated into our modern world, from hand fans to Caraco coats.

Here are a few bits and pieces of 18th century clothing that we would love to see come back into fashion.

Coat dress and Caraco Jacket

caraco jacket

Caraco coat by Amber

Although the coat dress re-emerged in the early part of the 20th century, it was first worn two centuries prior. It’s a semi-formal piece that serves a variety of functions once the weather turns cool. In the 18th century, they often came with very high waists, sometimes directly beneath the bust, secured by a belt. They were very long, made of thick material suitable for autumn and winter weather, and could be worn over many things.

Caraco coats and jackets would typically have been made of fabrics like the newly popular cotton prints, glazed worsteds and the like.

Today, it could be the perfect piece for chilly climates, as it offers the elegant shape of a dress and, with its thick material, protection from the cold. It is also versatile enough to be placed over outfits that are of varying levels of formality.

Double-breasted coat

18th century double breasted coat

Anton Graff paints Prince Heinrich (1789) removing his tricorn hat so as not to distract us from his hunter green coat. Yay or Nay? We say YAY. Prince Heinrich, you suave motherfluffer… !

Some double-breasted coats for men during the 18th century were shaped after the high-waistline styles popular amongst women. They often came with a turned-down collar that sat high and large lapels which narrowed to a waistline that sat several inches above the natural waist.

In the modern world, this elegant look could be modified to suit men and women alike, especially for layered autumn and winter outfits. For women, adopting this look with a noticeably cinched waist could add a touch of femininity to this masculine style.

Hand fans

flower hand fan

Flower hand fan by maggz

Hand fans were first developed in East Asia and then made their way to Europe as early as the 15th century. By the 17th century, these practical accessories were being manufactured in Paris and, by the 18th century, they could be found throughout most of Europe. Artists hand painted these fans with intricate designs, which could then be lined with delicate silver and gold decoration.

If used in today’s world, hand fans would be a perfect solution to uncomfortably warm days in spring and summer. Not only are they beautifully crafted and decorated, but they are also a convenient and ecologically-savvy way to beat the heat.

Intricate embroidery patterns

18th century embroidery pattern

18th Century embroidered mitts by CFGriffith (includes pattern)

Delicate, skilled embroidery could be found on both men and women’s clothing. For women, experiences artisans worked intricate floral patterns, complete with seemingly-endless twisting vines, into sleeves, bodices, and the bottom of dresses. Men wore similar fashion details near the buttons of silk waistcoats and frockcoats.

Contemporary clothes could do with a splash of 18th century fashion decadence and craftsmanship, particularly formal wear. It would add new textures to sophisticated looks, as well as a touch of romance uniquely conveyed though Enlightenment-inspired attire.

Bold hats

18th century hat

18th Century style tricorn hat by The Ruby Raven

Although bold hats still make appearances at designated, high-profile events, they are rarely used in modern, everyday life. In the 18th century, however, many people incorporated eye-catching headwear into their outfits. High-status women could be found in large, flat hats decorated with colourful flowers, feathers, silk ribbons, and lace. Not only was the hat elaborately decorated, but it was functional – the large rim kept sunlight off a woman’s face.

A toned-down version of this style of hat could be perfect for long, leisurely days outside. It would keep your scalp and face free from UV rays, while maintaining a polished overall look, something many casual caps cannot achieve.

Fashion during the 18th century was ornate and highly intricate, conveying an unusual mix of delicacy and grandeur. Great attention was paid to details, which were then interwoven into eye-catching fabrics and dramatic designs. Incorporating elements from this time period into today’s fashion palate would infuse contemporary clothes with old-fashion elegance.

It’s surprising how many items of 18th century clothing are still around today. Their mitts were essentially elbow-length fingerless gloves. We still see mules sold in shoe shops. Now, world. About those fans…

18th century corsets

We did not, of course, forget 18th century corsets. They have a delicious cut and are already quite prevalent today.