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What was the fashion in 1776?

In honor of the 4th of July, we’re taking a step back in time to 1776, the birth year of our country. How did people dress hundreds of years ago? What was the prevailing jewelry style? How uncomfortable were mile-high wigs? (We’re guessing a lot.)

First, the fashion. According to Wikipedia:

Women’s clothing styles maintained an emphasis on the conical shape of the torso while the shape of the skirts changed throughout the period. The wide panniers (holding the skirts out at the side) for the most part disappeared by 1780 for all but the most formal court functions, and false rumps (bum-pads or hip-pads) were worn for a time.

Below: Robe à la Polonaise, France, c. 1775, plain-woven silk with supplementary warp- and weft-float patterning. M.70.85 Shown with quilted plain-woven silk petticoat, England, 1780s.


But what about the jewelry in colonial America? What were the jewelry trends of this critical year in history?

According to Lang Antiques, pearls were all the rage. (See? We told you – pearls are always in!)

Pearls and mother-of-pearl were essential to every woman’s wardrobe. Pearls from the Persian Gulf and the Pacific and Indian Oceans were considered the most desirable and beautiful of gems. Whatever the source however, pearls of all types were found in earrings, necklaces, rings, and brooches just as they are today.

What about diamonds?

Trade with India and Brazil during the eighteenth century brought diamonds to Europe and trade with the colonies brought them to America. Rings, earrings, buckles, necklaces, brooches and lockets set with diamonds were sought out by the colonists.

So there you go: a glimpse into the fashionable jewelry and dress during the birth year of our country. Even 200 years ago, jewelry remained a mainstay in the dress of Americans.