To recap and clarify: my point was that portraits and images of fine clothes from the 1750s, 1760s, and early 1770s (in the Anglo-American, British, and French contexts) generally show women with gown, petticoat, and stomacher made of one fabric, and that when they are not all the same, you are more likely to see the stomacher not match the other two than a petticoat that contrasts with a matching gown and stomacher, and that the stomacher and petticoat matching each other and contrasting with the gown is an even rarer look.
The most obvious group to which the previous post doesn't apply is the one that couldn't afford to buy enough fabric to make an entire ensemble in the same material, or perhaps even to buy anything but disparate secondhand items! Let's hear it for the female bruiser on the ground, the tavern maid, the prostitute's servant (as well as the prostitutes themselves, often), and all the women in "The Recruiting Sargeant". While they don't show the specific matching stomacher/petticoat combinations, they ignore the fashionable fully matching "suit".
|John Collet, 1767; Hackney Museum CH 1996.6|
|"The Artist's Wife, Margaret Lindsay of Evelick", Allan Ramsay, ca. 1759; National Gallery of Scotland NG 430 - technically, this woman is middle-class|
Quilted petticoats, for rich and poor, overwhelmingly did not match the gown they were worn with. There was an entire quilted petticoat industry - while ready-made clothing was not as widespread as it would later become, this was an early entry into the field. (See Dress, Culture, and Commerce: The English Clothing Trade Before the Factory, 1660-1800, by Beverly Lemire.) It might theoretically be possible to have a gown made in a similar color as a quilted petticoat one owned or to find a quilted petticoat that matched a gown one already had, but judging by the artwork, this was not considered necessary - at any level of society. The central female figure in "The Recruiting Sargeant", a poor woman, is wearing a red quilted petticoat with a yellow and pink gown; in Clarissa (1748), the villain Lovelace advertises for the escaped Clarissa as dressed in:
... a brown lustring night gown, fresh, and looking like new, as every thing she wears, does whether new or not, from an elegance natural to her. A beaver hat, a black ribband about her neck, and blue knots on her breast. A quilted petticoat of carnation coloured satten; a rose diamond ring, supposed on her finger; and in her whole person and appearance, as I shall express it, a dignity, as well as beauty, that commands the repeated attention of every one who sees her.
|"The Bradshaw Family", Johann Zoffany,1769; Tate Collection N06261|
A number of eighteenth century portraits, especially women's portraits, were done in clothing that they would not have worn on the street or in a drawing room. Anne Buck notes in the introduction to Dress in Eighteenth -Century England that "evidence of eighteenth-century dress from its portraits is confused by fashion in painting itself. From the 1730s fashionable people were often painted in a version of seventeenth-century dress, after the much-admired Vandyke. From the 1760s they submitted to the convention of being painted in a compromise between the contemporary style and the dignified ambiguity of classical draperies. Some artists imposed a dress, which though fashionable could be peculiar to the portrait and not the usual wear of the sitter"; later in the book she points out that "sitters who were from the beginning antique could never look merely out-of-date. Even the unsophisticated wife and daughters of the Vicar of Wakefield are made to have ambitions of being portrayed in this way."
I've previously written about "antique costume" here, and have a Pinterest board for hoarding more images.
|Anne Parsons, Daughter of Alderman Humphrey Parsons, Brewer and Lord Mayor of London, Thomas Hudson, 1753; University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education 6|
Now we get to the real meat, and also turn back to fashion. Despite liking the first half of the century possibly more than the second, I left it out of my earlier analysis because, in the costuming world, "18th century" in effect means "after 1755": rounded hoops broad stomachers (or post-1775 closed-front bodices), stripes, flounced sleeves, larger and often powdered hair. But there are a lot of different things going on in the earlier part of it. For now, I'll just be concentrating on the situation with stomachers and petticoats.
At the turn the century, there are a number of things happening - mantuas worn open over (what appear to be) stays, mantuas that closed at the center front, full suits with everything of the same fabric. A lot of images from this time are heavily classicized, but of the less classicized portraits and genre scenes, the matching gown and petticoat with contrasting stomacher seems to prevail.
|"The Du Cane and Boehm Family Group", Gawen Hamilton, ca. 1734; Tate Collection T07505 (note the contrasting quilted petticoat on Mrs. Boehm in the center)|
|Detail of "Mrs. Wardle", Thomas Frye, 1742; Yale Center for British Art YSBA/lido-TMS-1243|
|"Samuel Richardson, the Novelist, Seated, Surrounded by his Second Family", Francis Lyman, 1740-41; TC 12221|
And now let us skip up to the late 1770s, when stomachers begin to fade out of use. This means that we've completely left the almost-nonexistence of the stomacher/petticoat pairing behind, and are only considering the commonness of the matched or unmatched gown and petticoat.
A great many extant ensembles, fashion plates, and portraits attest to the continuance of the matching ensemble; satirical prints, on the other hand, mainly show well-dressed prostitutes in unmatching gowns and petticoats. In fashion, the contrasting pieces show up first in the robes de fantaisie (turques, levites, polonaises, and so on) - enough out of the ordinary for women of means that the first one appearing in the (French) Galerie des Modes has to explain the vocabulary for the style: a coupé petticoat, "cut".
Over the course of the early 1780s, the coupé style goes from being almost entirely associated with robes de fantaisie (especially the levite) to being commonly shown with ordinary fitted gowns. I suspect that this might be due to the fashion of the period's fascination with idealized "country dress"; there might also be a parallel with men's dress, which was generally a bit less matchy throughout the century, and which was another influence on women's clothing at the time.
|Woman in a blue redingote with white/pink petticoat, 1786; Cabinet des Modes, 19e Cahier. 1ere Figure (2)|