There’s no doubt that we have things a lot easier today than back in the 18th century. Indoor plumbing and electricity alone eliminate a lot of the hard work people did just to stay alive! It’s obvious that other innovations – like the automobile – also made life a lot easier. However, there are more subtle ways that the lives we lead today are much less burdensome. Like getting dressed, for example.
Nowadays we can pretty much wake up, put on a clean pair of undergarments, throw on some pants and shirt and be out the door in no time, depending on your morning routine. But back in the day, everything was much more cumbersome.
Working women of the 18th century had quite the dressing process, and they didn’t get any help from chambermaids. First, they would throw on a linen shift. This was like a long-sleeved nightgown. Then came knee high socks and shoes. It was important to put socks and shoes on first because, after all the layers of skirts, the feet were hard to reach.
Then came the stay. Unlike the corset, whose purpose was to sinch the waist, a stay was a practical way to support the bust. Next came “pockets,” which were bags tied directly onto the waist that could be accessed through slits in the petticoats. Watch the video below to see the full process of dressing in action!