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Getting dressed in the 18th century

3 August 2016 by Lynn

Mrs Paine and her Daughters (1975), Sir Joshua Reynolds (c) National Museums Liverpool

Mrs Paine and her Daughters (1975), Sir Joshua Reynolds (c) National Museums Liverpool

Costume curator Pauline Rushton explores what it was like for women to get dressed in the 18th century.

“Getting ourselves dressed in the morning is one of the everyday things we all take for granted, along with brushing our hair and our teeth. But what would it feel like to have someone else dress you every day? In the 18th century, provided you had enough money and could afford to pay servants, that would be the norm, especially if you were a woman. In any case, clothes could be so complicated that you wouldn’t be able to get into them easily without someone else’s assistance. Ideas about privacy and intimacy were different then too – it was normal to be touched by a servant if they were helping you wash or dress.

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