The draped skirts of this magnificent 1730s mantua cleverly conceal its complex construction. One of the mantua’s characteristics was a long train, which was sewn as a flat piece of silk and arranged with each wearing. The train was folded up, then folded in and draped over a loop of thread on either side of the waist. In order that the finished side of the silk always show when the mantua was worn, the train was constructed with panels of the right and wrong sides of the fabric sewn together. Pinning up and draping a train successfully was an art and required the help of maids to achieve the perfect effect.
The mantua was worn over a matching petticoat and the resulting ensemble constituted formal daywear in the 1730s. Also typical for this period is the silk, intricately brocaded in a flowing pattern of large, realistically rendered flowers and leaves.