Preparation time: Years. The armoury in Stockholm is lucky to have four robe de cours from the 18th century and at least one of them are displayed at any given time. It was the first 18th century gown I ever saw and despite my father's horror stories that the dress walked around at night with no head, along with the empty armour, I still loved the gown. When I first started to make 18th century clothes I dreamed of making a robe de cour, but there never seemed to be a good opportunity for it. A court dress are, after all, meant for the really grand occasions. But now I have a big party coming up- the masked ball at Kalmar castle in October, so why not take the chance now.
It's not difficult to find paintings and this style stay very consistent throughout the century. Here is Sofia Magdalena of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, queen of Denmark.
And here is her grand-daughter Sofia Magdalena of Denmark, queen of Sweden, two generations later.
The robe de cours in Stockholm, though from different generations as well, are remarkably alike, though the earlier ones have panniers that are much boxier in shape.
Only at the end of the century, the styles seems to change, at least in France, if these rather whimsical pictures are to be believed. The ever talented Koshka has made a delightful version here.
There are also extant robe de cours in Russia. This is Elizabeth of Russia's.
Here are a few other examples. I don't know anything about these gowns- they look quite different from the ones in Stockholm, which may be because they were made a bit different in Russia. But they may also have been changed to go with later fashions (I'm completely sure that the Lace on Elizabeth's gown aren't original) or just be displayed on mannequins with the wrong shape. I would dearly love to know more about them.
There are also a number of painting of robes that doesn't have the typical lace cuffs from the first half of the 18th century. You can find a more in depth discussion on those on the Marquise site.. They seem to have a variety of sleeves.
Gowns for costume balls are also often of this type.
My first idea was to make a gown in silk brocade with the lace cuffs, but then there is this painting.
I have a weakness for velvet as you may have gathered by now and I like this kind of sleeves:
And my imagination took a sidestep, so a velvet gown and no lace cuffs it will be. So now I have several yards of silk velvet and me wondering if I'm not totally crazy to make a grand robe in slippery velvet. Time will tell...