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Robe à la Polonaise, French, 1770s
Misses' Polonaise Costume, from Butterick's Delineator for September 1883. The polonaise is shown over a ruffled underskirt.

A polonaise (originally robe à la Polonaise) is a woman's garment of the later 1770s and 1780s or a similar revival style of the 1880s inspired by Polish national costume,[1] consisting of a gown with a fitted bodice and cutaway, draped and poufed overskirt, worn over an underskirt or petticoat.

The eighteenth century polonaise (also referred to as a milkmaid dress) was a conscious imitation of rustic country women's habit of tucking their outer gowns up to keep them out of the muck. The open skirt could be poofed up by tucking the front corners through the pocket slits or, later, by means of tapes and loops sewn into the skirt.

The nineteenth century revival style had lost all connotations of this rustic origin.


  1. ^ (English) "Polonaise (dress)". Retrieved 2008-09-26.  

Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C.1860-1940, Wace 1966, Macmillan 1972. Revised metric edition, Drama Books 1977. ISBN 0-89676-027-8

Ashelford, Jane: The Art of Dress: Clothing and Society 1500-1914, Abrams, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6317-5

de Marly, Diana: Working Dress: A History of Occupational Clothing, Batsford (UK), 1986; Holmes & Meier (US), 1987. ISBN 0-8419-1111-8

Payne, Blanche: History of Costume from the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century, Harper & Row, 1965. No ISBN for this edition; ASIN B0006BMNFS

Tozer, Jane and Sarah Levitt, Fabric of Society: A Century of People and their Clothes 1770-1870, Laura Ashley Press, ISBN 0-9508913-0-4

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