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They often put on a shawl to hide a part of the exposed neckline. The lower garment was very heavy and full. During the earlier period, women used to put on one or more petticoats underneath the dress to give it the characteristic wide shape. Petticoats were worn to offer warmth. There was a turn in the 1700`s, women began to put on hoops which had been made of whalebone underneath these skirts and dresses. For the next couple of years that followed, hoops of diverse forms were a frequent phenomenon of women’s clothing (Erickson 125).
Characteristically long dresses also referred to as Mantua were worn during this time. They were mostly put on during the evening for charity events, balls and when on outings. These gowns were comprised of a bodice that enclosed a corset. In addition, ribbons, nettings and laces decorated the dresses. Mature women wore short-sleeved dresses that were low cut thus revealing the bosom. On the other hand, young girls were often advised not to reveal their cleavage. The skirts and dresses were ankle long and covered the petticoat though it was still visible at the hemline. Whenever women were outdoord, flat hats with wide brims and bonnets were worn.
The very first Mantua’s emerged during the late 17th century as a more comfortable option to the separate skirts and the boned bodices that were popular at the time. Its basic features were cuffed sleeves, elbow length and the overskirt was characteristically drawn back over the hips to reveal the petticoat underneath. In the mid 1700s, the Mantua had changed to a more official variation that was worn for court dress. The overskirt draping became progressively more stylized, and the back panel nearly became hidden (Fisher 56).
Even though the woman`s dress was basically and widely worn, it had quite a number of variations. For the women who worked, theirs was a plainer garment that was made of wool, linen, or heavy cotton. This was so because these fabrics
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