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Dressers & Vanities

Originally called "toilet tables," vanities and dressers were first used in 18th century France as storage for wealthy women’s cosmetics. These pre-plumbing vanities usually included a shallow basin so women could wipe off their makeup. During Victorian-era England, these vanities were known as dressing tables and became commonplace in the bedrooms of several classes. It was around this time that some vanities did away with the mirror and added drawers for clothing.

Vanities and dressers are usually constructed from wood; oak, walnut, and mahogany are popular choices. As with other furniture, designs have changed through the centuries. Queen Anne dressers and vanities from the 1700s, for example, often feature s-curved cabriole legs, hand-carved knees, and claw-and-ball feet. In America, the designs were simpler and the Chippendale was the most popular.

During the early 20th century, Art Deco prevailed in both Europe and America, bringing with it luxurious and glamorous dressing tables. Femme fatales in the Hollywood films of the 1920s and 1930s were often depicted sitting regally at their elegant vanity or dressing table.

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