Revision as of 00:01, 23 January 2014 by Andrew (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

The French Revolution and Empire PeriodsWeek 7:

French Revolution and Empire PeriodsStep 1:

Read the online "lecture" on dress in the period 1789-1825 below and click on any links that interest you. You are not required to read all the material on all the links, however:

Dress in The


Revolution and Empire Periods

This time frame from 1789-1825 is actually several different sub-periods. The first, 1789-1799, the period of , is a sharp transition period. The second 1800-1815 is the time of the French

[1] and

[2], and is a stable Neo-classical period. 1815-1825 is the late Neo-classical period that shows a gradual shift towards the Romantic style.

Dress in The French Revolution

Dress during this period goes through a massive shift. Late 18th Century women's dress collapses from it's padded and puffed look

WomenSagesplates1780swoman.jpg to a thin, often translucent silhouette. As the French Revolution progressed, different women's styles were adopted that appeared to have reference to the revolutionary politics, social structure and philosophy of the time. In the early 1790's, for example, the "English" or man-tailored style was favored as it hinted towards the leanings of constitutional monarchy. There was a brief fashion forplain dresses in dark colors during the Terror of 1792, but when the Directory took over French fashion again went wild, trying out fashions in "Greek", "Roman", "Sauvage" and "Otaheti" (Tahitian) styles.

WomenHoey'splatesAlagreque.jpg Dress a'la Greque (


The Psudo-"Greek" look proved most popular and was adopted as the standard style in Europe in the late 1790's

18thcentMen1780sman.jpgWhile Men's Costume in the 1790's also becomes thinner in line, it separates it's style from women's dress by beginning to lose nearly all forms of surface decoration, lace and bright color, as "irrational" and feminine effluvia. This change is slow, but it completely alters men's dress by the mid 19th Century into dull dark uniform dress.

Other major changes include the adoption of trousers from the dress of sailors and the urban proletariat of the French Revolution, the passing of the fashions for wigs and hair powder, and the (very temporary) demise of the corset.

The bonnet is invented as a hat that is meant to look like a Greek helmet, but it quickly is altered in style out of all resemblance to the original.

RegencyBoehnWienerzeithats1820a.jpg Bonnets from "Wiener Zeitschrift", Vienna, 1820 in Max von Boehn's Modes and Manners of the 19th Century

The Neoclassical Period 1800-1825

Probably due to post Revolutionary backlash against female influence in politics, later reinforced by the German Philosopher

Schopenhauer (who promoted the view that men were supposed to be rational and women emotional), the sexual dichotomy in dress becomes more pronounced in this era, a trend which continues through the 19th Century. The direction of fashions towards Neo dress for women, and increasingly drab utilitarian dress on men, continue in a steady manner in this very stylistically stable period.

WomenFashionplates1807.jpg 1807

WomenFashionplates1809fulldress.jpg 1809

Women's dress locks into a pattern of light colored muslin gowns, high waisted with little puffed sleeves, and psudo-Greek hairstyles, which achieved an apex at the coronation of the Emperor in 1804.

RegencyWomenNapoleonssisters.jpg Napoleon's sisters at his coronation.

As the period proceeds, the originally simple lines of these gowns are increasingly decorated with ruffles and puffs, the skirts get puffed out with petticoats, the waist lowers and tightens with corsets, until by 1825 it is hard to see how the style worn was ever imagined to look Greek.

RegencyBoehnParasolvienna1822.jpg 1822 Vienna from Max von Boehn's Das Beiwerk der Mode, 1928


's dress also keeps on a fairly steady course towards increasing dullness. Fashion magazines continue to push men's dress towards foppish extremes, but men who actually count in the fashionable world tend to push for plainer styles. Beau Brummell, the leader of male sartorial fashion in England in this period was noted for wearing only black with a white shirt for formal evening wear, a marked departure from the style of the previous century. Tubular and fitted trousers also move from a radical fashion statement to everyday wear for most men of the upper classes.

Step 2:Men's clothing in this era becomes less and less adventurous in style. The few outlets for male fashion expression (boots, hats, collars and neckties) therefore go to extremes. Neckties in this period were especially important. However, as with trying to create any other period style in the present, neckties require a leap of imagination & practical experimentation to get them to look like the images one sees in the past, even with genuine period instructions for tying available . Get a piece of light crisp cloth (muslin or taffeta will work best) about 70" x 10" in size. Then go to

Neckcloths or and try following the wonderfully vague and confusing period instructions for tying it round your (or someone else's) neck. [A better photo of the styles is at

art of tying the cravat Demonstratedneckclothitania] Write an account of what you did, and how you can really make one look like one of the pictures, and post them to your site by the weekend. Take your camera and photograph the results (process your film later this semester, or if you have a

digital do it and post it now).Some students who have done this in previous classes share their tips below:




This Concludes Week #7's Lesson

Return to

Class Index

Costumes Francaise: The Convention & the Directory

HistoryQuicheratCostumedebal.jpg 1. Costume for a ball "a la sauvage", 1796. 2. "Greek" style dress, 1797. (


HistoryV&amuseum20.jpg A dress of the male style in vogue between 1780-95. (

Victoria and Albert Museum

18thcentBoehnJournallady1792.jpg French fashion Plate of 1792 Max von Boehn's Modes and Manners of the 19th Century

HistoryQuicheratMembredelacommune.jpg Member of the Commune of Paris, 1793 (


18thcentBoehnMenagerie1800a.jpg France 1800 in Max von Boehn's Modes and Manners of the 19th Century

More Costume Timeline Images of 1789-1800

18th Century Costume Links: 1789-1800


18thcentRevolution1790june.jpgImages from

Costume Plates of the French Revolution & Empire

File:18thcentWomenSummerdress1794t.jpg Images from

Fashion Plates 1790-1800

RegencyBoehnHamburg1802a.jpg Fashions in Hamburg 1802 in Max von Boehn's Modes and Manners of the 19th Century

RegencyBoehnWienermode1816a.jpg "Wiener Mode", Vienna, 1816 in Max von Boehn's Modes and Manners of the 19th Century

RegencyBoehnWienerzeit1825a.jpg "Wiener Zeitschrift", Vienna, 1825 in Max von Boehn's Modes and Manners of the 19th Century

18thcentRevolution1802may.jpg Fashionable Frenchman of 1802 (


RegencyBoehnRepository1810a.jpg English man of 1810 from Max von Boehn's Modes and Manners of the 19th Century

HistoryKohler471and472 1818.jpg Men's dress of 1818. Suit of King Ludwig I, beginning of the 19th Century (Kohler)

RegencyBoehn1823journaldesdames.jpgJournal des Dames 1823 (Boehn)

More Timeline Images from 1800-1825

Regency and Empire Costume Links

and After

Return to

Class Index

Product Links

French Revolution





Ackermann's Costume Plates : Women's Fashions in England, 1818-1828 Ackermann's Costume Plates : Women's Fashions in England, 1818-1828

- Women's fashions year by year 1795 to 1948

An Elegant Madness : High Society in Regency England An Elegant Madness : High Society in Regency England

Empire Costumes Paper Dolls Empire Costumes Paper Dolls

Pride and Prejudice (BBC TV Miniseries) - The Special Edition Pride and Prejudice (BBC TV Miniseries) - The Special Edition

This Page is part of The Costumer's Manifesto, originally founded by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D. from 1996-2014, now flying free as a wiki for all to edit and contribute. Site maintained, hosted, and wikified by Andrew Kahn. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. You may print out any of these pages for non-profit educational use such as school papers, teacher handouts, or wall displays. You may link to any page in this site.