Bows and Breast-Knots in the 18th Century

These links show various styles of breast knots and ornamental bows worn at the center front of the neckline of a lady's dress. While they begin to appear at about the midpoint of the 18th century, they seem to become more prevalent from the 1770s to the mid-1780s.

(When looking for a style around a particular time period, pay attention to the width of the ribbon, the number of lobes on the bow, about how far across the bodice the lobes extend, the size of the tails, and whether the tails are pinked. Note whether the color matches the gown or other accessories, such as cap ribbons.)

Many of these bows tend to go over the neckerchief, especially if the neckerchief is not tucked in. I've also included a few examples that are probably tying a garment closed, as well as examples that are part of a series of bows stitched down the front of a stomacher (as in An evenings invitation, for example).