|Part of the display|
The 13 costumes on display belonged to 'the middling sort', those who were neither poor nor extremely wealthy. Because they are all displayed in glass cases, reflections were a problem when trying to take photographs. The men's dark suits proved particularly tricky, but I was able to photograph some of the waistcoats
|Silk satin waistcoat, 1760-80|
The displays are arranged so that it is possible to see the backs of most garments.
|Back view of the waistcoat|
|One of the display cases . . .|
|. . . and the other|
Among the menswear on display is this early example of 'shapewear'. For those men who lacked the requisite shapely calf, help was at hand in the form of padded stockings. These were worn with a pair of ordinary silk stockings over the top, and are displayed here with the left stocking inside out to show the wool padding.
|Silk stockings with wool padding, 1775-1800|
My interest however was in the women's wear. This dress, seen in the centre of the second display case, is made from a stunning silk brocade woven with flowers in the centre of plain silk medallions, with textured fabric around them. The maker clearly wasn't sure what to do with the pleated trim around the waist when it reached the back pleats, so it rather peters out.
|Open gown and matching petticoat, 1760-65|
|The odd trim finish at the back|
This costume spans a number of decades. The brocade dates from 1736-38, the gown was made around 1770-80, and the quilted petticoat 1750-80.
|Keeping fabric for decades is clearly not a new thing!|
|Piecing at the top of the skirt|
This gown had been altered in the nineteenth century for fancy dress wear.
|Silk brocade sack-back gown and petticoat, 1765-70|
Fortunately, the trim remains unaltered.
|Sleeve and bodice|
The family that originally owned this dress believed that it had been a wedding dress, but it may just have been a 'best' dress.
|Silk satin damask open gown, 1750-70|
I had great fun playing 'spot the piecing' around the exhibition. Some examples required close inspection, but some made it easy. I don't know enough about eighteenth century dress to know whether this join was just careful use of fabric, or remodelling when pointed bodice fronts became fashionable - all suggestions gratefully received.
|Using just the spotted part of the fabric makes the join less obvious|
I loved the jaunty quilting design on the petticoat.
|Silk and wool quilted petticoat, 1750-1800|
Another example of an open gown with a quilted petticoat had the skirt arranged in a polonaise. The green silk brocade was my favourite fabric in the exhibition, but the costume was nigh-on impossible to photograph without reflections.
|Silk brocade open gown 1770-80|
|Another exuberant silk and wool quilted petticoat, 1750-1800|
|Annoying reflection on the polonaise|
|The best view was from the back, framed by two other gowns|
Dressed to Impress runs until spring 2020, and is free to visit. Alternatively, all the costumes are featured in this book about National Museums Liverpool's eighteenth century costume collection.