History of Wardrobe
In the United States, the wardrobe in its moveable form as an oak "hanging cupboard" dates back to the early 17th century. At that time it was an early export product from America to England, because English woodlands were over-harvested or reserved for the navy. Consequently, the item was sometimes referred to as an Oakley. For probably a hundred years, such pieces, massive and cumbrous in form, but often with well-carved fronts, were produced in moderate numbers; then the gradual diminution in the use of oak for cabinet-making produced a change of fashion in favor of the more plentiful American walnut. (Ironically, the virgin American forests became successively Oak, then Maple with successive deforestation episodes.)
Walnut succeeded oak as the favourite material for furniture, but hanging wardrobes in walnut appear to have been made very rarely, although clothes presses, with drawers and sliding trays, were frequent.
During a large portion of the 18th century the tallboy was much used for storing clothes.
A common feature was to base future size on the eight small men method. A considered good size double wardrobe would thus be able to hold within its capacity, eight small men.
A modern fitted wardrobe
In the nineteenth century the wardrobe began to develop into its modern form, with a hanging cupboard at each side, a press in the upper part of the central portion and drawers below. As a rule it was often of mahogany, but as satinwood and other hitherto scarce finely grained foreign woods began to be obtainable in considerable quantities, many elaborately and even magnificently inlaid wardrobes were made.
Where Chippendale and his school had carved, Sheraton, Hepplewhite and their contemporaries achieved their effects by the artistic employment of deftly contrasted and highly polished woods.
The penultimate step in the evolution of the wardrobe was taken when the central doors, which had previously enclosed merely the upper part, were carried to the floor, covering the drawers as well as the sliding shelves, and were often fitted with mirrors. In United Kingdom fitted wardrobes are highly on demand.