Friday, 5 July 2013

Ladies and gentlemen in plaid in the 18th century

Once upon a time I heard that there were no plaid, or checkered clothes in the 18th century. Clearly that was not the case, as there actually are extant ones. Not to mention paintings.

Robe à la Française, 1760's
Robe a la Francaise, ca 1765
Robe à la Française, 1770-1790
  Not exactly plaid, but the pattern makes for a checkered look at a distance.

Robe à l'Anglaise, 1784-87
Silk caraco jacket, 1770's
I love this fashion plate and I live in hope that someone will make it one day.
Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1797
François-Hubert Drouais, 1757

Princess Frederika Sophia Wilhelmina of Orange, nee Prussia by Johann Georg Ziesenis, 1768-1769
Her apron is clearly plaid, but is her caraco jacket? I think it looks spotted, but some say plaid.
Plucking the Turkey by Henry Walton, 1776
Young Moravian Girl. Johann Valentin Haidt
Oyster vendor after Mercier. Mezzotint
Portrait of a woman, unknown artist

Tartan were around in the 18th century, and evidently not only used for kilts. An article on 17th and 18th century Scottish costume can be found here.
Portrait of a Jacobite Lady by Cosmo Alexander, 1745-1750's
Flora McDonal by Allan Ramsey,

Sir Robert Dalrymple of Castleton, ca 1720

John Campbell by William Mosman, 1749

Dr. Sir Stuart Threipland, of Fingask

James and Alexander McDonald by William Blake
Prince Charles James Stuart by William Mosman, 1750

Woollen, twill-weave hard tartan man's coat, Scottish, 1740–50
Click on link for a larger picture.
Waistcoat, 1775-80


Olympe de la Tour D'Auvergne said...

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was part of an online forum for 18th century re-enactors and someone brought up that very myth. I pointed out the first image you've used, the KCI one, and was promptly told that it was a check not a plaid.

Your post has made me feel very vindicated. Thanks!

Isis said...

Comtesse Olympe: Yes, I think you should! In swedish we use just one word "rutigt" for both kind, but my understanding is that a check fabric has even squares in alternating colours, but a plaid has uneneven horizontal and vertical stripes that intersect each other and forms the pattern.

So you were right all along! :D

Thread-Head said...

I've been corrected on the plaid issue as well. One man's "check" is another man's "cross-bar". Just the other day, I mentioned my personal quest for a South Carolinian tartan gown reference on Kitty Calash's blog. Thank you for the great gallery of examples!

MrsC (Maryanne) said...

There used to be a number of pink and sage plaid silk taffetas available, early 90s in particular - they would be perfect! But I cannot help feel that the resulting dress would remind people of a costume from a 1992 costume drama!
Sometimes old things look older when they are not modern looking ;-)

Isis said...

The Choll: Yes, I guess people define it differently. I just have to keep track on one word for it in Swedish. :)

MrsC: Yes, that is true. I would still love to have a tartan riding habit. I do have Scots in my family tree... ;)

Time Traveling in Costume said...

I just finished a blog entry on picking fabrics, specifically cottons, for the 19th century, and how I educated my eye. Now I can add your information to my store of knowledge. And I love plaids! What woman doesn't? It will be on my radar next time I'm back in the 18th c.

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

I love plaids! Such a great post! I'm adding a link to it on my website - more people need to know about early uses of plaid.

Isis said...

Time Traveling in Costume: It is a bit tricky to pick right, isn't it? And yes, I love plaid too!

Deb Salisbury: Thank you! And how sweet of you to link to me!

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