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From stockings to wig, this is how to dress like a proper (18th-century) gentleman

Fashion is far from frivolous, and can offer keen anthropological and historical insights into everything from an era’s sexual politics to its international trade routes. Created as part of an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, this short video shows and contextualises the fashionable attire of British gentlemen in the 1700s. With the help of a valet, a man changes from sleepwear into an elaborate outfit – including vented breeches, a suit waistcoat and, finally, a powdered wig. From the perspective of the 21st century, his clothes might appear highly distinguished or formal – perhaps fit for a lord or an accomplished barrister. However, the gentleman is merely donning the standard business attire of the day, worn by ‘the middling sort’, neither rich or poor, looking to get a leg – not to mention stocking, shoe and occasion-appropriate shoe button – up in the world.

6 September 2019

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