The Georgian era covers the period from 1714 to 1830. Fashion in these period in European countries and North America was characterised by greater abundance, elaboration and intricacy in clothing designs. Hairstyles were equally elaborate, with tall headdresses the distinctive fashion of the 1770s.
The gown could be made with a “compère” front (meaning that it fastened closed over the chest) or it could be made to be worn with a separate stomacher. Regardless, the dress most likely pinned shut. Yes, pinned. A lady’s pin money wasn’t so much for sewing as it was to buy the pins required to keep her gowns on! The main alternative to pinning was for the lady to be sewn into the gown [...]. A very few gowns, comparatively, laced shut or were held closed with hook and eyes.
Short necklaces were popular during the Georgian period, and some of the most desirable styles included dog collars (or chokers), rivieres, which had a row of diamonds or gemstones, and multiple cameos connected by rows of draped chain to form a necklace. During the early Georgian period, diamonds were the most desirable stone, but colored stones, such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, were later brought back into popular fashion.
The Georgian fashion was exaggerated with full skirts, fills and bows. Not only were skirts big, hair was piled up outrageously high
Colours and combinations of colours are very striking: petticoats of black satin covered with large bunches of worked flowers, morning gown of yellow flowered satin faced with cherry-coloured bands, waistcoats of one colour with a fringe of another, bird's-eye hoods, bodices covered with gold lace and embroidered flowers - all these gave a gay, artificial appearance to the age; but we are to become still more quaintly devised, still more powdered and patched, in the next reign.
During the later years of the Georgian period, floral designs moved away from formality and symmetry. The fragrance of flowers became important because it was believed that their perfume would rid the air of diseases. Because of this belief, the English created the nosegay, a small handheld bouquet to carry the sweet scents. Nosegays mask the smells of body odors in a society wire bathing often was not believed to be healthy.
The French Revolution and Empire and the accompanying taste for simplicity and the antique had a great effect on hair styles. Both men and women cut their hair very short, like the Roman emperors, or women twisted their hair into Greek knots, with short curls framing the face, or later into smooth plaits around the head.
Fashionable London ladies took their inspiration from aristocrats like Marie Antoinette of France or Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. A feted beauty and trend-setter, Georgiana’s taste for extravagantly high wigs topped with long feathers was widely copied. Ladies had to be extremely careful not to crush their headwear against the ceiling or set light to it on the chandeliers.
At the beginning of the Georgian period women wore wigs like the masculine periwig but with exaggerated double peaks. Often the hair lied at the shoulders in ringlets but not as dense as the men's styles. The hair was drawn back from the forehead and dears with Greek simplicity. Caps were no longer included in formal costume, but they were still worn in the middle classes. As the period continued women's hair grew to amazing proportions and it is said that hairdressers had to stand on ladders to dress their ladies hair. Toward the end of the period hair got shorter and wider until finally the natural mode became popular for hair.
The richly decorated gowns worn by wealthy Georgian women were often adorned with an "eschelle stomacher" (a fancy corset designed to be worn in public and adorned with bows of decreasing size) above the waistline and an embroidered and trimmed petticoat below. Ladies' skirts were supported by wide hoops made of cane or rattan, and sometimes laid over quilted under-petticoats. Under the hoops and corset, ladies wore "shifts" (knee-length undergarments with elbow-length sleeves adorned with a froth of lace). Properly dressed ladies also wore stockings gathered at the knee and made from rich silk fabrics with woven patterns or embroidered motifs, and high-heeled shoes covered with silk to match the gown.
The Rococo style which developed in the early 18th century brought a much lighter, frivolous approach to fashion and seemed to concentrate solely on the surface decoration, to the extreme of becoming ostentatious. Portraits of this period can been seen by looking at the work of artists Watteau and Boucher. The French Revolution in 1789 cut off the French dominance over fashion styles, and for a while English fashion looked to the countryside for inspiration. This produced a very simple, natural countrified style. This look was made possible by the invention of machines that could make light fabrics in large quantities from the cotton imported from the colonies.