17th century to 1875




1779   Early riding habits frequently borrowed from men's attire, allowing women to experience, however vicariously, a sense of masculine power. This reproduction habit is based on Sir Joshua Reynolds' portrait of Lady Worsley, who took status-seeking a step further. Her habit was based on the uniform of her husband's regiment, the Hants Militia, with plumed hat, ample underpetticoats, and white slippers providing the feminine touch.


1652   An early habit of the Louis XIV period called for a velvet brocade jacket with “buttons, loops, bowknots and braid,” interpreted here with slashed sleeves. A sheer shirt with a “falling band”, cloth skirt, and black hat with plumes would have completed the outfit. This is one of the earliest outfits intended primarily for riding, and the masculine influence is undeniable


1795-1810  The Empire style habit was influenced by French Directoire styles. All fabrics in the original would have been light weight: highwaisted underdress and jacket in "pale blue, soft worsted woolen cloth"; habit shirt in sheer white fabric; and petticoats of silk or lawn. The straight-cut skirt was so long that it had to be held up or carried over the arm until on horseback. A system of tapes and tabs inside the skirt allowed it to be "tied up" (shortened) for walking or for use as a traveling costume.



1800-1815  Again borrowing from the gentlemen, this reproduction habit features the military look of fitted jacket, double lapels (revers) and brass buttons popular at the time. Underneath--a one-piece "jumper" worn over ruffled habit shirt. The long skirt of the original has been interpreted for modern use as a train, buttoned up or carried in the left hand for ease in walking. From a British fashion illustration.



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