Muslin Gowns and Silk Coats

I was looking for ruffles in eighteenth century fiction (as you do) when I came across one reference to a white muslin gown with a lilac petticoat in the Lady's Magazine for 1780.

"A Series of Letters: Miss Wallis to Miss Greville", p. 143
Generally, in these periodicals, muslin is white and anything colored is silk.  I went looking for more references to fitted gowns (ie, not chemise gowns) of white muslin with or without contrasting petticoats - the muslin and silk combination is the most interesting to me and what I'd personally like to replicate at some point, but because white muslin is so often considered to have been introduced with the chemise gown, I also just wanted to look for more references to the gowns themselves.  But things will also get tangenty - think of this as a collection of interesting quotes that could lead to further research (or maybe clicks with something else you've read elsewhere, or inspires you in some way) rather than one of my "my goodness, I've discovered something" posts.

"Letter X: Miss Tasty to Miss Betsy Evergreen", The Lady's Magazine, 1780, p. 340

"Amantor and Emma", The Lady's Magazine, 1780, p. 292
Note: "tied up" rather than "en polonaise".

"The Dress of the Month: Ladies' Dress", The European Magazine, 1784, p. 400
Is "plain back" possibly the period term for the "quarter-back gown"?  How do these drawing strings work?

"Dress for Ranelagh", ibid.
"Dress for Ranelagh", ibid.

The Vicar of Bray, 1771, p. 35
The Weekly Miscellany, 1776, p. 88
This story recounts a visit to a "young man of family and fortune, lately married to a young lady reckoned a beauty" - is it about the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire?  The wife's sister, who is present during the visit, is about the right age to be Henrietta.  It's said that there is a "striking difference in [the husband and wife's] dispositions" and the general flavor of the anecdote is that this is an unhappy marriage with a husband who can act fondly towards his wife but does not seriously care for her feelings.  (Also note that later on the lady's said to be wearing a white satin petticoat with that elegant muslin gown.)

"The Matron", The Lady's Magazine, 1775, p. 691
And two rather earlier extracts:
Henrietta, 1761, p. 7
"Fine white Long Lawns for Gowns", J. Forster's advertisement, The London Chronicle for 1757, p. 624


  1. The 1761 white sprigged dress with the blue silk petticoat has me sighing. That would be such a lovely combination. Wonder what trimswou ld adorn the muslin gown? Or, it being morning dress, would the gown itself be untrimmed, relying on the sleeve ruffles and cap and other accessories for the requisite fluffy effect?

    Very best,


    1. That's the one I'm the most interested in! (That and the one above it - such detailed descriptions.) I think you're right, as a morning gown it probably wouldn't have much trimming. The author would probably have mentioned it, too, when going into the Dresden work.


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