Friday, August 10, 2012


Fashion plate illustrations were used for centuries to depict current fashions in clothing.  They were especially popular in England and France during the 18th and 19th centuries. Eventually, photography and improvements in communication led to their decline and disappearance.

Although fashion plates served as a sort of "Sears Catalog"...

 Page From 1934 Sears Catalog

...the illustrations stand on their own as fine pieces of art and continue to be favorite collectibles.  See for yourself!

The persons shown on fashion plates were not meant to depict anyone in particular; they were used to present current fashions, not serve as a portrait. This illustration depicting Lady Jane Grey in 1553 proves an exception.  Women of the past had to endure a great deal of pain dressing in these fashions...

...but the fashion designs sure are beautiful.

The 17th century:

 French Elite, c. 1650

 French Mode, 1685

 French Mode, 1690

Summer Dress, Late 1600s

The 18th century:

 Court Dress, c. 1770s

 French Design, c. 1700s

 La Mode, c. 1700s

Toilette De Cour Louis XV, c. 1700s

 Couple Seated, 1794

Caraco, 1786

The 19th century:

 Le Bon Ton, 1800s

 La Belle Assemblee, 1824

 Le Follet, c. Early 1800s

Regency, 1823

 Morning And Evening Dress, 1829

 La Belle Assemblee, 1831

 Green Mantelet, c. 1830s

Sour La Regence, c. 1830s

 La Mode, c. 1840

 La Mode, 1848

 Petit Courrier Des Dames, 1850

Les Modes Parisiennes, c. 1850

 Victorian, c. 1850

 English Women, February 1862

 Godey's, August 1870

Victoria, 1870

 Peterson's Le Follet, 1873

 Godey's, February 1874

 Revue De La Mode, 1875

Revue De La Mode, 1879

 La Mode Illustree, 1880

 Formal Gown, 1885

Mother And Child, 1886

 Peterson's Magazine, 1888

 Queen Parasol, c. 1890

 Queen Soiree, c.1890

La Mode Artistique, 1890

 Two Women And A Girl, 1892

 Visiting Toilette, October 1898

The 20th Century

 French, 1901

The Delineator, 1902

 Taffetas, 1903

 Confectionne, 1906

 Victorian Dresses, 1907

 Les Robes De Paul Poiret, 1908

 Londoners At Harrods, 1909

 Morning Constitutional, 1912

 Edwardian And Titanic Era, c. 1912

Edwardian And Titanic Era, c. 1913

 Brunelleschi, 1914

 A Ete Prime, 1914

 McCall's Summer Dresses, 1917

Gatsby's Girls, c. 1920s

 Incantation, c. 1920s

 Three Women, c. 1930

 Tailored Suits, c. 1930

Costume, 1937

 Vestee Suit, 1939

 White With Flora Trim, 1939

 Tailleur Grey And Yellow, 1946

Tailleur Tan And Red, 1946

 Tailleur Grey, 1949

 Brown Suit, 1955

 Charcoal Suit, 1955

Green Suit And Accessories, c. 1950s

 Jumper Dress, c. 1950s

 Long Coats, 1965

 Green Outfit, 1965

Tailleur Grey, 1965

 Daveiba, 1974

White With Green, 1974

I was hesitant to post fashions from the 1970s.  As the decade progressed fashion, in my opinion, took a spiral into the bizarre.  Three words describe the late '70s "fashions": Bell Bottoms, Disco, and Polyester.  I can personally attest to wearing a polyester suit with bell-bottomed pants, along with obscenely fat ties.  See below, if you dare...

Why did we do it? Where were the fashion police during this tragic half of the decade?  Probably at Studio 54 or at a roller disco in one of these cheesy leisure suits boogying down to Village People's "Y.M.C.A."

The fashion plates I have posted represent a small portion of the images available online.  As Cap'n Andy Hawks said in the 1927 musical "Show Boat", " Jest a sample!"

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