Exploration One: Regency and Neoclassical Clothing


After the decline of the French aristocracy
, the entire fashion scene went through a dramatic change. Nobody wanted to be associated with the fashions which France had become so famous for, and the people turned towards the smaller, and more elegant side of textiles. Because of this fashion renaissance, it gave way to self expression, and personal preference, rather then clothing just being a means to exhibit social rank.

Example of a high class woman, notice her popular up do, as well as her high quality embroidered shawl.

Style turned from the overly ornamented meringues of the Rococo period, to the draping Grecian influenced beauties with high waisted dresses of the elegant Neoclassical era. The skirts which once weighed as much as a small child, thinned down into a simple loose silhouette. The fabrics which once were embellished with gold and silver trim, and embroidery changed to simple natural toned cottons, and muslin dresses. During the Napoleonic wars the Indian fabric which was so popular for this style of dress was banned in France. Of course, this rule was manipulated by ordering the textiles from the Spanish Netherlands- and they still traded with India.

In the evening the chemise dress would at least cover the shoulders, and the fabric would be of a much higher quality. During the day the sleeves would be a little longer on the arms. The neckline slopes down displaying an elegant amount of cleavage. The back of the dress would be where it would tie, and would accentuate the nape of the neck, effectively making it a sex symbol during the time. The waist would be tied with a ribbon, lace or fur trim, and would be used as a simple accessory.

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Trade with India was booming, and had a diverse plethora of exports which trickled in through the fashion scene in Europe at this time. Women loved wearing Indian cashmere shawls to keep warm in style, with feminized military influenced jackets. Beauty changed themes, and natural beauty became more and more treasured.