On Tuesday, I posted the first half of my review of Thieves of the Wood (2018), the Belgian miniseries set in 1747 about a group of outlaws. In that first post, we looked at the men’s costumes, as well as the lower-class women. Now I want to look at the more well-off women!
The Women: Town
Nobody is filthy rich, upper aristocracy, more well-to-do bourgeois. Let’s first look at mid-18th century women’s middle-class fashion, particularly in the Low Countries if possible, including England, Germany, and France as needed.
The first thing to notice is the preponderance of jackets and caps. Secondly, no one is wearing giant hoops, and the hair is relatively small and close to the head.
This well-dressed French servant is wearing a jacket with short tails and pleated cuffs, petticoat, “pinner” apron (note the apron bodice pinned to the jacket), fichu, and cap. She probably has a few petticoats on underneath and maybe some very small pads but that’s it:
This middle-class English woman is wearing a pet-en-l’air, the jacket version of the robe à la française. This is a hip-length garment that’s otherwise cut like the française. She too has cuffs on her jacket, as well as a cap with lace framing the face:
Although this is from a bit later, this is probably the best reference for the kind of style worn in the Low Countries (Flanders, Netherlands, Luxembourg). She’s wearing a whole lot of printed cotton: in browns for her jacket, blue/pink for her petticoat, and navy or black and white for her apron (which again has a bodice portion). Printed cottons were particularly popular in the Low Countries, as many were imported by the Dutch. Note again the fichu and frilled cap that frames the face, and the full skirts that aren’t over big hoops.
These are “Regentesses,” and I’m not 100% clear as to what that means — are they school benefactors? Something religious? Nonetheless, they’re not aristocracy and they’re Dutch. Most are wearing the robe volante, the full gown that predated the française, but the standing woman is wearing something more fitted in a printed cotton. Note all the fichus and caps:
Now, let’s look at Thieves in the Wood!
Our first of two main female characters is Héloïse. She works in her father’s print shop, but they allegedly have a French title, so she varies between more workaday and fancy looks.
This is the kind of thing she wears for everyday, which looks great:
When she dresses up, things vary. She still favors printed cottons, which checks out for this region in this period. The main issue is that her hairstyles (and that of other well-off townswomen) are way too big for the 1740s (try 1770s).
This printed cotton gown seems like it’s a fitted-back nightgown, although we never really see the back:
It looks very much like this extant 1740s gown:
The main thing I’ll note is that those tabs:
Usually a fichu that shows through:
She also has several (what I think are) jacket-and-skirt ensembles:
At one point, she has a cute riding habit, but it’s never really on screen for more than half a second, so the best I could do was screencap the hat:
At one point she has an Extra Special Outfit:
The other main character is Anne-Marie, who goes from a prostitute to a “lady.” First, she’s dressed up as a lady in order to help facilitate a robbery and wearing in a pet-en-l’air (short française) that reads really well on screen:
Up close, you can see that the ruched trim is from printed cotton, which isn’t something I’ve seen in the period, but you can’t really see it on screen so I’m giving it a pass.
SO much of the series is dark and murky, so screencapping was hard. She later gets this dark red robe à la française:
She later gets this printed jacket over a stomacher, with a solid skirt, and wears it outside, so I could actually get some decent views:
Looking at more minor characters … Magda is the bailiff’s secretary. COLOR ME SHOCKED to see an actually appropriately dressed middle-class character, from her CAPS to her pinner aprons:
There’s a snobby, social-climb-y family; this is the mom, and she too has high 1770s hair, but at least she’s got a cap:
There are also about a million well-dressed extras, primarily in jackets (many many pet-en-l’airs) who have big 1770s hair, but otherwise look great:
Although I did notice some (VERY QUICK, blink and you’ll miss it) back closures on extras in one scene:
Have you seen Thieves of the Wood? What did you think of the better-off ladies’ fashions?