Fashion in Nottingham in 1760

In recent months, I have been completely hooked by “The Date-Book of Remarkable Memorable Events Connected With Nottingham and Its Neighbourhood 1750-1879”, by John Frost Sutton. It records a world so similar and yet so different to our own. Fashion, for example:

“Here are a few words explanatory of the costume of the period. The dress of the upper and middle classes being then, as now, a model for those beneath, may be regarded as sufficiently indicative of the prevailing style.”

“Ladies were attired in stiff stays, tightly laced”:


“….tightly laced over the stomacher, and long in the waist, causing the upper portion of the figure to resemble the letter V.”

Like this:

white corset

The stomacher could usually be removed from one dress and transferred to another. In this way, it was possible to ‘mix-and-match’ designs and colours. Here are two stomachers of the period:

“The thinness of the waist appeared still more striking by the sudden fullness of the gown, occasioned by the hooped petticoat.”

Here are two hooped petticoats, both modern. One is structured horizontally, the other vertically:

Here’s the fullest dress I could find. And yes, that is a fabric called “cloth-of-silver”:

m 18th-century-court-gown-cloth-of-silver

“A close head-dress, and shoes with high heels of divers colours, completed the ensemble. Gentlemen were much more gay in their apparel than would now be thought consistent with good taste. Claret-coloured cloths were deemed very handsome in the circles of high fashion, and suits of light blue, with silver buttonholes and silver garters at the knees, were quite in the mode.”

Here are two suits, one in blue and the other in claret. West Ham eat your hearts out:

“Perukes, of light grey human hair, were worn”:

“Dark hair was of no estimation whatever”:

dark wig

Men used to wear:

“A large cocked hat, called “the Keven Huller, which was about six inches broad in the brim.”

This was named after Keven Huller, a now long forgotten Austrian general who fought against the armies of the French Revolutionaries and then Napoleon himself, in the last decade of the eighteenth century.I  have been unable to find any picture of this fashionable hat from long ago. Men also wore:

“a square-cut coat, and a long-flapped waistcoat, and shoe-buckles of an enormous size”.

Here is a long waistcoat:


Here are some rather attractive shoe buckles:


Their overcoat might be

” a heavy dragoon type with wide gold braid”


I have been unable to find any picture of the type of hat with the so-called “Denmark Cock high at the back, low in the front and tilted forward” or indeed the “Dettingen Cock” or the “Monmouth Cock”  style of headgear.



Filed under History, Nottingham

15 responses to “Fashion in Nottingham in 1760

  1. Good research John. I’m afraid that I have no sense of fashion whatsoever as Kim reminds me daily!

    • I’m happy to see, though, that there has been a period when grey hair was fashionable. And there’s something too about those “rather attractive shoe buckles”….

  2. Great job, John. I’m going to show this post in class today. Thanks for the research!

  3. Fascinating post John. It seems as though ladies had a tougher time than men being so tightly laced at the waist!

    • Yes, you are certainly right there! Although, having said that, I seem to spend a lot of my time tightly laced at the waist, although I do admit, that is all my own fault.

  4. Quite elaborate needlework on these garments. [how many women do you think today would be willing to suffer through the stomacher for the sake of being in fashion?]

    • I take your point, but I suspect it may well be as many as teeter on those huge platform shoes or who wear very high heels at work. I’m just glad that men have never been asked to wear clothes which actually damage the wearers’ health…at least I can’t think of any.

      • You got me with those platform shoes – I don’t even like the way they look. But I guess if the fashion designers say they must – uh……..

  5. Fashion often goes round in circles, I do hope this one is broken! Whilst they do look extremely elegant, they also look very uncomfortable and hot!

    • Actually, you may have hit the nail on the head there. These old houses may well have been very cold and people perhaps welcomed layer upon layer of clothing. I had a flat in a 19th century house once, and that was cold enough for my bedside glass of water to freeze over on one particular occasion. Those were the days! Global freezing….a lot less fun!

  6. The clothing of the period was attractive, but it must have taken so long to get ready in the morning, even with servants helping. I don’t think it would suit modern lifestyles. I barely get to the train on time every morning as it is.

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