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How Fasion Defined Class in the 1700's
Transcript of How Fasion Defined Class in the 1700's
Servant and Slave Classes
Clothing says a lot about people, especially in the mid 1700's. From the upper class, to the lower class, and the servant and slave class, their clothing says a lot about them. How elaborate and how fine the clothing was said a ton about the man.
The same aspects of clothing determining class from the 1700's apply to current day, what brands you have, how much you spend, and the amount of clothing you have says a lot about your class in society. Things other than clothing apply more now like your house, or even what kind of cell phone you have.
Its very clear that in the 1700's fashion defined class, and separated people, and it is still happening today. What is in line for the next 300 years in terms of fashion and how it defines the person?
How Fashion Defined Class in the 1700's
In this project, I researched how fashion in the 1700's defined class. I looked at mens fashion in the upper, lower, and servant classes.
The average upper class suit was composed of three pieces: the justaucorps (a long knee-length jacket), and embroidered waistcoat, and breeches.
The upper class suits were mainly silk, velvet, and brocade.
It was very common for upper class suits to have lavish embroidery.
In the 1700's suits were very distinguishing, and were a very big representation of economic, and social class.
In the 1700's an overcoat, was "the thing". They were the highest fashion, and status symbol.
An upper class overcoat was generally velvet, but sometimes wool. They often were embroidered as well, and had two rows of brass or silver buttons.
The overcoat came down to just past the knees, and was fitted at the waist.
This is a good example of the embroidery.
Everybody has undergarments...the only thing that distinguished between upper and lower class is the amount of undergarments he has.
The 1700 underwear was composed of just two parts, the shirt (a simple linen knee length shirt), and the stockings which were either wool or linen depending on the weather.
Due to the fact that it was only the 1700's there was no elastic, so stockings were held up with either ribbon or leather
The upper class man had 4-6 undergarments.
Due to the very bad hygiene in the 1700's (even in the upper class), wigs were a very important, and necessary part in daily life, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't be worn with dignity. The upper class wore their wigs tall and proud.
The wig of an upper classmen was generally made out of a powered wool, or silk
Wings were a form of status symbol, they were worn with many tight curls, and often were 2-4 inches tall.
In the 1700's hats were a form of the highest fashion, it was a rare event if you saw someone on the street not wearing a hat.
The most common hat was the "tricorn" hat (three cornered)
Hats were generally black or brown , and were made of felt, or the bottom of beaver skin
An upper class man would most likely own two hats (one for everyday, and a fancier hat)
A fancier hat had a cockade on the side which was a decoration most commonly made with folded ribbon and a button
Where the clothing came from
Beside what the people came to the "New Land" with, the upper class primarily got their clothing from England. The clothing was often brought to the colonies by boat, when the other supplies like tools, weapons and other items such as that. It was extremely expensive to get new clothing, and it took many months for the clothing to come. There were seamstresses at the time, but many of the silks and things still had to be shipped in, so generally the upper class shipped there clothes in from England.
The process to get clothing from England to the Colonies generally took 8-10 months.
Unlike the in the upper class ; in the lower class, suits were only worn to important events or church
The suit of someone in the lower class was composed of the same parts as an upper class suit, but it was much simpler
They were made out of wool and linen, and they were very plain
The upper class man would have a small heel on his shoe so that he could "stand above" people.
The most common shoe in the upper class was a square toed shoe with a one to two inch heel
The shoes were made out of embroidered silk, and the heel was made out of wood
Yes, these are men's shoes!
In the lower class overcoats were not as much to be distinguishing, but for purpose.
The lower class man would use his overcoat for warmth, and protection from the elements, hence the large collar (to be able to pull over the face
The overcoat would be made out of sturdy wool, and it would either have wooden buttons or tie clasps
Even more so than in the upper class, the lower class had extremely bad hygiene in the 1700's, so wigs were necessary for special events and church, but for the rest of the time it was more common to have just there natural hair.
The lower class wig was made out of wool, and was sometimes powdered
When it wasn't a special event or Sunday, their hair was generally put back in a braid.
Most men tied off their hair with a ribbon because elastic was not invented yet
Lower class men only had one pairs of shoes. They were sturdy and made for all weather, and jobs.
The shoes were made out of solid leather, and brass tacks.
They generally didn't have a heal, and they had buckles.
Where the clothes came from
Besides what was brought to the colonies, the lower class men either had their clothing made by their wives, or the local seamstress.
I decided to focus on men's fashion because the only people that had rights at that time were men, and they were the hierarchy of society.
Slavery was very common in the mid 1700's. Due to slaves not having any rights, they lacked in clothing, depending on how kind the owner was, the slaves were provided with the bare essentials. Sometimes they even had to make their own clothes out of straw or other materials if they do not have any provided.
Indentured servants were paid very,
little, so they either had to make there own clothes or buy it with the little money they got. They generally had very basic outfits of either a simple tunic or a lose shirt and breeches.
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Calloway, Collin. "Men's Clothing from 1700." Men's Clothing from 1700. Memorial Hall Museum, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2014. <http://www.memorialhall.mass.edu/activities/dressup/notflash/1700_man.html>.
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