Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pink Polonaise or Milkmaid Gown

In the 1770s and 1780s, Enlightenment thinkers waxed philosophical about the virtues of Nature and rustic living. Even Marie Antoinette, yearning for the simpler life, had her own farm where she pranced around in country garb.

Undoubtedly, these new ideals popularized the polonaise style gown, which imitated milkmaids who tucked their skirts up to keep them from dragging in the mud while they did chores. Also known as robe à la Polonaise, the style consisted of a fitted bodice and a three tiered overskirt, draped over a petticoat. The overskirt got its full poufed look usually by ribbon ties or a ring and loop system.

Here's blogger writing about how ladies transitioned from gowns shaped by panniers to the polonaise style.

Contrast the old wide hoop style to the new polonaise (my two photos from the LACMA exhibit):

This must be the widest gown on record...or someone got stuck in the back of the sofa.

Here are real examples from the Met.

Here's my Elizabeth modeling a polonaise gown from Doll Clothes of Yore.


  1. Hee hee, I was just thinking about gowns like this the other day and especially the ones in Marie Antoinette! I sure wish I could duplicate those examples from the Met...

  2. I think you can do it Joni! You're quite talented!

  3. She's quite lovely in her gown. And the doll room she's modeling in is just beautiful. I love love love your doll photographs.