18th Century Clothes:
- Women: Court dress included elaborate and intricate styles influenced by Rococo; hoop skirts; panniers; corsets; petticoats; stays; conical torso shape with large hips; "standardized courtly bodies and faces" with little individualityMen: Coat; waistcoat: breeches; large cuffs; more attention on individual pieces of the suit; wigs for formal occasions; long and powdered hair
- French: Elaborate court dress, colorful,decorative, portraiture inside
- English: Simple and practical, inexpensive durable fabrics, outdoor lifestyle, portraiture outside
- Women: New strapless stays cut high at the armpit; grand habit de cour or "stiff-bodied" gown; riding habit
- Men: Frock coat; knee length breeches fitted snugly; full shirt sleeves; original Macaroni
Women's clothing styles retained the emphasis on a narrow, inverted conical torso, achieved with boned stays, above full skirts. Hoop skirts continued to be worn, reaching their largest size in the 1750s, and were sometimes replaced by side-hoops, also called 'false hips', or panniers. Court dress had little or no physical comfort with restriction of movement. Full size hoops skirts prevented sitting and reminded those wearing them to stand in the presence of the King. Stays forced a proper standing posture. Garments like these could not be washed often because of the fabrics they were made of. The Enlightenment produced a backlash against sumptuary laws which asserted a stagnant social hierarchy. During the enlightenment court dressed stayed almost the same while outside of court dress fashion became less extravagant and shifted more towards comfort rather than courtly display. 
Shoes had high, curved heels (the origin of modern "louis heels") and were made of fabric or leather, with separateshoe buckles. These were either polished metal, usually in silver (sometimes with the metal cut into false stones in the Paris style), or with paste stones, although there were other types.
The shift, chemise (in France), or smock, had a low neckline and elbow-length sleeves which were full early in the period and became increasingly narrow as the century progressed. Drawers were not worn in this period.
The long-waisted, heavily boned stays of the early 1740s with their narrow back, wide front, and shoulder straps gave way by the 1760s to strapless stays which still were cut high at the armpit, to encourage a woman to stand with her shoulders slightly back, a fashionable posture. The fashionable shape was a rather conical torso, with large hips. The waist was not particularly small. Stays were laced snugly, but comfortably. They offered back support for heavy lifting, and poor and middle class women were able to work comfortably in them.
Free-hanging pockets were tied around the waist and were accessed through pocket slits in the side-seams of the gown or petticoat.
Woolen or quilted waistcoats were worn over the stays and under the gown for warmth, as were petticoats quilted with wool batting, especially in the cold climates of Northern Europe and America.
Working-class people in 18th century England and the United States often wore the same garments as fashionable people—shirts, waistcoats, coats and breeches for men, and shifts, petticoats, and dresses or jackets for women—but they owned fewer clothes and what they did own was made of cheaper and sturdier fabrics. Working class men also wore short jackets, and some (especially sailors) wore trousers rather than breeches. Smock-frocks were a regional style for men, especially shepherds. Country women wore short hooded cloaks, most often red. Both sexes wore handkerchiefs or neckerchiefs.
Men's felt hats were worn with the brims flat rather than cocked or turned up. Men and women wore shoes with shoe buckles (when they could afford them). Men who worked with horses wore boots.
© Piper Maru, all rights reserved