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Shift

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1740 - 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, faced

  • Museum number:

    T.25-1969

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Chemise of white linen. With wide oval neckline and cut very low in the front. It is mid-calf length and flares from the underarm to the hem. At the back, two triangular gores run from the middle of the armhole to the hem. The sleeves are set in straight with a triangular gore beneath. They are gathered and pleated in the pressing. They are open a short way up from the band and have two worked eyelet holes in the band. The neck is faced with a narrow linen tape. Embroidered at the base of the neck in red cross stitch with '4 / S H'. The chemise is very finely stitched.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1740 - 1780 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Linen, faced

Marks and inscriptions

'4 / S H'
Embroidered at the base of the neck in red cross stitch

Descriptive line

A woman's shift of linen, England, 1740 - 1780

Labels and date

This is what a typical 18th-century fashionable woman would have worn as underwear. First, she would have put on a white linen shift to protect her body from coarse fabrics. Then her maid would have helped her into stays and side-hoops. Their purpose was to mould the torso to the fashionable shape and provide a rigid form on which the gown could be arranged and fastened.

The sleeves of this shift feature fine pleats, carefully ironed into them by the 18th-century laundress. Elaborately pressed linen like this was a mark of wealth.

Side hoop
Britain (London), 1778
Linen and cane
From the family of Mrs Deborah Carter, given by Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Carter
V&A: T.120-1969

Stays
Britain, 1780s
Wool backed with linen or canvas, with whalebone
Given by the family of the late Mrs Jane Robinson
V&A: T.192-1929

Shift
Britain, about 1750
Linen, with pressed pleats
V&A: T.25-1969 [2013-2015]

Materials

Linen

Categories

Textiles; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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