18th Century Spangles

Last updated: Feb 25, 2024

“SPANGLE: A ſmall plate or boſs of ſhining metal; any thing ſparkling and ſhining.” (A Complete Dictionary of the English Language, 1789)

“Spangles and Plate Figures in embroidery are made of gold or ſilver wire, twiſted round, cut off in rings, and flatted upon a poliſhed anvil, with a punch tipped with poliſhed ſteel.” (The parent’s and guardian’s directory, 1761)

Spangles were used to decorate a wide variety of garments and accessories for men and women. These small, flat sequins, often made of silver, add accents that reflect candlelight – making them ideal for wearing at court and formal evening occasions.

Eighteenth century embroidery patterns in The Lady’s Magazine sometimes featured spangles, including Pattern of a Shoe for Shading in Colours and for Embroidery with Gold, Silver & Spangles (February 1771), Pattern of a Gentleman’s Ruffle (July 1771), Patterns for a Gentleman’s Ruffle (1771), An Elegant Pattern for Working a Waistcoat (March 1775), Two new Patterns for Shoes (April 1775), and New Patterns for Shoes (March 1778).

This list is grouped by type of garment or accessory, rather than being in chronological order.





  • V&A 114&A-1873, a sack and petticoat, English, embroidered 1735-1740 and sewn 1750-1759
  • Manchester 1953.213, a bodice, 1740-1760
  • Galerie des Modes, 11e Cahier, 6e Figure, 1778: “Ball dress. The bodice and petticoat are of the same stuff and color. This petticoat is pulled up with tassels on the sides, a little in back, and on the front unevenly through the pockets: it allows, as it were, the discovery of a second petticoat of a different color, trimmed with a volant of striped gauze, headed with a flower garland, with barrieres of flowers and sequins. Little apron of gauze matching the volant, trimmed around the edges. The body has a top-rounded bib, showing graceful contours. Sleeves with large gauze sabot cuffs, trimmed in poufs, with pearls, flowers, and sequins.”
  • Galerie des Modes, 21e Cahier, 2e Figure, 1779: “New Gown, called à la Longchamps, pulled up with love-knots and tassels, trimmed with sequins … Skirt of the Gown open in front, pulled up in garlands with tassels equipped with cordelieres in love-locks; the edges trimmed with embroidery in sequins of many colors.”
  • Galerie des Modes, 1er Cahier de Grandes Robes d'Etiquette, 6e Figure: “The trimming of a trimmed gown dressed with blue crêpe, the parement of a garland of sequins edged with cornflowers, the petals in blue and green sequins, the leaves in green sequins, and the bases and hearts in stones, a large satin and pinked crêpe chicory positioned behind … The petticoat of white taffeta covered with crêpe edged with blue sequins, a volant of a large garland edged with blue and green sequins; cornflowers in stones and sequins edged on the bottom with a very high blonde lace, a tulle ground with a border, held up with a large garland of roses positioned on a pleated frill of the same blonde.”
  • Galerie des Modes, 2e Cahier de Grandes Robes d'Etiquette, 2e Figure: “The furnishing and trimming of a grand presentation dress of black fleuret, the petticoat covered with an embroidered, spangled, bronzed crêpe with very rich sequins, the petticoat bordered with a fringe of tassels in branched-work and sequins, the head of black sequins in festoons, a drapery on the right and on the left of sequined crêpe, edged with the same fringe as on the bottom of the petticoat, ended with beautiful, shining black tassels and attached with sequins, the bottom of the gown of black-spangled crêpe, trimmed with a stomacher en barrière of black sequins and black stone buttons, the veins and epaulettes matching”
  • Met 1998.314a,b, a robe à la polonaise, British, c. 1780
  • Galerie des Modes, 3e Cahier de Grandes Robes d'Etiquette, 4e Figure, January 2, 1785: “The trimming and the bodice of a gown of white crêpe, spangled with silver in faux vermicelli patterns, the parement trimmed with a beautiful garland of two fringes in silver lamé, and a third row of gold in the middle, pinched bouillon-style at the ends, each bouillon held with a flower of blue spangles and green leaves. The manchettes edged with a fine silver fringe and frivolité, and a fine petit pied of blonde. The petticoat of white taffeta covered with white crêpe, striped at the edges with white sequins, edged with oval stones or scattered very thickly in a pattern of faux sequins. The bottom of the petticoat edged with a pleated ruffle of crêpe striped in two rows of fine silver fringe and a third row of fine gold. A pleated, pulled-up volant of white crêpe edged with silver sequins at the end, edged at the bottom by a ribbon edged in rich stones and a fine silver fringe held with a garland matching that of the parement in gold and fine silver.”
  • Galerie des Modes, 2e Cahier de Grandes Robes d'Etiquette, 3e Figure, January 20, 1788: “The furnishing of a full gown, the petticoat of white taffeta, covered with a crêpe spotted with silver sequins, forming a fabric with contrary pleats, the foot of the petticoat trimmed with a large band of green sequins striped with white sequins, bordered at the bottom with a high gold fringe and tatting; three festoons forming shells bordered with a very high fringe of gold and silver tassels, a very beautiful garland in branch-work of green and pearl spangles mixed with gold spangles, with large flowers of blue spangles, the top of the petticoat striped in columns of garlands of green spangles, all a branch-work mixed with pearl: the bottom of the gown of blue satin trimmed with a fringe of gold and silver tassels; a band spotted with spangles, a flat gold fringe with tatting at the top; the grand corps of blue satin trimmed with a stomacher of black velvet embroidered with stones, the edging and shoulder straps matching. Four gold and fine silver gown tassels.”
  • Costume Parisien: Fichu - Turban semé de Pailettes …

Pocketbooks & Purses