The History Main Page New York City Directory The World Of Society Main Directory    

Ladies in New York City 1760


The ladies dressed their hair low or high according to the latest mode, wore stiff laced bodices, skirts with deep panniers, hooped petticoats of considerable width (though not as vast as those of the London dames, which blocked the passages), high-heeled colored shoes, and later slippers of dainty satin or white dressed kid. They carried fans of the latest pattern. The stuffs were rich, and heavily brocaded in bunches of gold and silver of the large English pattern. By day they were as simple as Cinderella at the chimney corner. Their gowns were of plain, sensible material, woolen or calico, made short, with aprons of linen; their hats small, their hoods quiet, and at home always a muslin cap.

There was a vast variety of dress goods from which to select, shipped from the four quarters of the globe. Of this we may judge from the first advertisements of Mr. Isaac Low, one of the leading dry goods importers. On November 6, 1766, he announced in Holt's "New York Journal" that he "had just imported an assortment of goods suitable to the season, consisting of coatings, broadcloths, flannels, embossed serges; Paris-fans, and half sticks, spotted ermine shalloons, satinets, Calimancoes, oznabrigs, sheeting; Russia drilling donlass, garlix Callicoes, cottons, cambricks, lawns; both muslin taffetas, Persian cotton lungee and new silk romalls, bandanoes, and women's gloves; worsted and cotton hose, & etc., which he will sell at most reasonable terms at his store, between the Exchange and Coenties market. Surely, as Judge Jones implies, these were times of Arcadian simplicity, days when, as our modern satirist would say, "Miss Flora McFlimsey had nothing to wear." Richard Norris, stay maker from London, in 1771, advertised "all sorts of stays, turned and plain, thick or thin, straw, cut French hips and German jackets after the newest and best manner." Any ladies uneasy in their shape, he likewise fits without any encumbrance, all "by methods approved by the society of Stay-makers in London." Rivington, the printer, advertised "coque de pearl necklaces, hair pins, sprigs and ear rings set round with marquisates in a new taste".

In summer, pleasure was found in driving over the Monument Drive, along the line of Park Row and the Bowery to Astor Place, thence westward by way of Greenwich Lane to the river road, on the present line of Greenwich street, and back to the point of departure. Winter amusements included sleigh rides and turtle feasts, or an evening at the solitary theatre in John Street, near Broadway. Society at these pleasant diversions made an agreeable impression on the visitor. "The ladies in this vicinity are slender, of erect carriage, and, without being strong, are plump." "They have small and pretty feet, good hands and arms, a very white skin, and a healthy color in the face, which requires no further embellishment. They have also exceedingly white teeth, pretty lips, and sparkling, laughing eyes.

In connection with these charms they have a natural bearing, essentially unrestrained, with open frank countenances, and much native assurance. They are great admirers of cleanliness, and they keep themselves well shod. They frizz their hair every day, and gather it up at the back of the head into a chignon, at the same time puffing it up in front. They generally walk about with their heads uncovered, and sometimes, but not often, wear some light fabric on their hair. Now and then some country nymph has her hair flowing down behind her, braiding it with a piece of ribbon. Should they go out (even though they be living in a hut) they throw a silk wrap about themselves and put on gloves. They have a charming way of wearing this wrap, by means of which they manage to show a portion of a small white elbow. They also put on some well-made and stylish sunbonnet, from beneath, which their roguish eyes have a most fascinating way of meeting yours."


Website: The History
Article Name: Ladies In New York City 1760
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From My Collection of Books:  History of New York State 1523-1927 Publisher: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc.-New York, Chicago. Copyright: 1927 Volume I
Time & Date Stamp:  


  Privacy statement | Terms of use