The Fashion Revolution of 1789-1799

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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 waists and hips became more pronounced" (Yarwood, 242). Style became more pronounced and less restrictive. Curves became fashionable and in many cases tailors took it to the next level, producing the dell shaped full gown, what would have been thought of as vulgar and showy only a few years before. With this new freedom offered to the people by the French Revolution the fashion grew form restrictive top loose and changed style long after.

New beliefs in equality also made a major contribution to the new image in France. No longer did class separate the people. When the working class took over everything turned upside down. While ornate and colorful clothes had once been only for the nobles and upper class, the new attitudes of equality became commonplace in all society, and no limits were held including the limits on clothes. There was no longer a specific line between what people of each class could were. Now businessmen could dress like a noble, and a noble could even dress like a peasant. With the introduction of machines that could mass-produce clothes, the costs for even the most ornate items greatly dropped. For a long time suits, especially with three pieces were a sign of the richest and gentlemanly people of society. With the introduction of a new coat called the frock coat, "designed as part of a three piece suit" (Yarwood, 223), everything changed. Even the common men now had the ability to imitate the richer people of their society. While many times this would not be allowed, in order to keep a fine line between the classes, with the new equality given to the people through the revolution, nothing was able to stop it. In...
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