National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Dress Dress
Rendered by Melita Hofmann (artist), 1935/1942
watercolor and graphite on paper
overall: 46.1 x 37.7 cm (18 1/8 x 14 13/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 52" long
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Costumes from the Index of American Design
Object 2 of 26

Most formal eighteenth-century dresses were open in front, showing a petticoat worn beneath. The petticoat was constructed separately from the dress but was not considered an undergarment. A quilted satin petticoat is shown in this 1740 costume.

Oval-shaped hoops, called paniers, support this skirt. The word comes from the French, meaning "basket" or "hamper," since they resembled the baskets for provisions carried in pairs by horses or mules. Paniers were usually made of metal or whalebone. They were also known as paniers à coudes, the French word for elbow, because the wearer could rest her elbows on them.

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