The foreign, specifically the oriental costume was the most popular subspecies of fancy dress . The frequency of foreign costume gave the masquerades a multicultural feel, but the respectful representation of other cultures was in no way the intent. Rather, foreign costume was an extension of English imperialistic pride; in the second half of the eighteenth century the popularity of Persian, Indian, and Chinese dress increased along with British colonial and economic advances in those regions . The geographic proximity and intensified diplomatic relations with Turkey made clothing from that region especially popular.
Travel accounts and popular literature also helped increase interest in foreign dress and culture. However it lead to a superficial interest in foreign culture, which was at times indistinguishable with interest in foreign dress . The wearing of foreign dress even emerged into everyday casual wear.
1. Castle, Terry. Masquerade and Civilization: the Carnivalesque
in Eighteenth-Century English
Culture and Fiction. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986, 60.
2. Ribiero, Aileen. The Dress Worn at Masquerades in England 1730 to 1790. New York, NY:
Garland Published, 1984, 223.
3. Castle, 60.