Baskets, whales and ruffles, fashion in the 18th century

Triplex 03.03.12 > 03.03.13

If you looked inside a man’s or woman’s wardrobe in the middle of the 18th century, you would find pinafores, fans and voluminous dresses. During this period, France set the tone in terms of fashion. And it continued to do so for the next two centuries. In the 18th century, men wore French-style clothing and women wore a French dress.


The pieces from the museum’s collections showcased in the “Paniers, baleines et jabots” (Baskets, whales and ruffles) exhibition have been added to the inventory of the movable cultural heritage of the Brussels-Capital Region.
Discover our French-style dress of edged lampas with a green background and small herringbone patterns.

© Chuva Design

During the 18th century, France set the tone in fashion

During this period, worldly ladies and gentlemen were dressed in rich brocaded, damasked or embroidered silks with shimmering colours and patterns. A woman’s figure was shaped by whale bones and the baskets which varied according to the period. Both men and women wore powdered wigs, especially in France, a trend eagerly copied by other European courts.

Robe à la française¬_Exposition Paniers, baleines et jabots_Musee Mode & Dentelle ©Y.Peeters-A.Dohet

The expo in Brussels: the outfits of the 18th century

In this temporary exhibition Baskets, whales and ruffles, 18th century fashion, the Museum offered its visitors an insight into the successive fashions trends that were popular between 1730 and the end of the century. The exhibition highlighted pieces of rare value, such as sumptuous French and English dresses, men’s clothing embellished with accessories (shirts, fans, shoes, lace, shawls and hats). This exhibition emphasised the notion that our clothes do not fall from the sky and that the evolution of our silhouette is part of a genuine state of continuity.

Eventail plié_Exposition Paniers, baleines et jabots_Musee Mode & Dentelle ©Y.Peeters-A.Dohet