Between 1789 and 1799 France was going through great turmoil. Immense political and social upheavals were commonplace in the changing nation. New ideas were growing, ideas of freedom, government and of self-expression. Such new attitudes by the people gave rise to a new style of clothing. The clothing became more expressive and more ornate. People began to dress the way they wanted. French soon became the center stage for fashion. The French revolution, while failing in many aspects did one thing no one expected. The French revolution created a new image of fashion in France. There are several reasons that contributed to this occurrence. New beliefs of freedom, equality and self-expression each contributed to this new era of clothes.
One major contributor to this new image in France was the new belief in freedom. This was a time in France were the tides were changing and the power over the country was moving from the hands of the Old regime to the Bougiose. As this occurred this working class felt a new freedom, and a respect for freedom that they had never felt before under the iron fists of the nobles. Such ideas broke the people away from their normal standards and every day drab. With a new freedom new ideas started to pop up everywhere. These new ideas led to the creation of “ ‘the new costume’… reproduced in England’s The Home Circle” (Ewing, 123). With the new freedom people of all sorts started to speak up and voice their desires. This caused a revolution in fashion for France with the invention of the sewing machine and other cloth production machines the ideas quickly became “vast quantities of fabrics” (Ewing, 105). As restrictions gave way to freedom many old ideas gave way to new ones. With this newfound freedom women’s wear especially went through “a slow reform for women” (Ewing, 173). While corsets had been used earlier to give women a narrow waste and flatter chest, new half corsets were used to provide a “round, high waist” (Cassin-Scott, 74) while still providing the full chested appearance. This new freedom allowed men and women alike to change their image from a more strict and prudent society, to a more open and casual fashion. As the people gained more freedom so did the style of dress. The bustle gowns were a new style where “the curve between breasts and waists and waist...
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...uality allowed self-expression to set in and mold the old styles into new ones more befitting of the people who wore them, and allowed the people to express themselves, being no longer limited by the boundaries of class. Ideas of freedom, equality, and self-expression from the French Revolution caused another revolution on its own, a revolution of image and style never before seen. The affects of the revolution even outlived the revolution itself, and were some of the few changes in France that actually remained the same, while most of the changes from it retrograded. The Revolution of fashion in the decade between 1789 and 1799 would not have occurred without the French Revolution, and it changed styles in the world forever.
· Cassin-Scott, Jack. French Costume and Fashion 1550-1920. New York. Brandford Press Ltd, 1986
· Ewing, Elizabeth. Everyday Dress in France1650-1900. London. B.T. Badsford, 1984
· Ribeiro, Aileen. Fashion in the French Revolution. London. B.T. Badsford, 1988
· Yarwood, Doreen. European Costume. New York. Bonanza Books, 1975
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