Paris: City of Light

Examples of Fashion from the 1780's and 1790's


Parisian Salons
 ~Salons of   Enlightenment
 ~Madame de   Stäel         
~Salons of the   Restoration
 ~The Salons of   Victor Hugo

Influence of Printed Materials
 ~Pre-Revolutionary   Timeline
 ~Post-Revolutionary   Timeline


Defining the Parisians
 ~Parisians Viewed   by Foreigners
 ~Parisians   Viewed by   Themselves
 ~Paris Fashion



The Upper Class: Aristocrats

Figure 3.5 Engraving after A.B. Duhamel from the Cabinet des Modes, a high quality fashion magazine of the time April 1, 1786 (Ribeiro, 41).


Figure 3.6 Engraving from the Cabinet Des Modes March 15, 1786 (Ribeiro, 34).

  • This sketch depicts a young gentleman in daily aristocratic costume. His social stature is immediately recognizable by his three point hat, and elegant frock coat, which is knee length and decorated with elaborate buttons and embroidery. On the inside of the coat he is wearing a gilet, or vest, and has a long, puffy tie wrapped around his neck. His tight knee high breeches, or colon, worn with thick stockings, buckled shoes, and cane complete his stylish look.
  • The above sketch shows a typical costume for an upper class woman. It is essential to note that the fabric used for dresses like these are silk and satin. They have elaborate embroidered decorations, bows, and ruffles. Underneath the skirt there is a hoop, as well as hip and back derrière pads, which are used to create the bulges and make the skirt poof out. Grand hats topped with ribbons, bows, and feathers complete the elegant female aristocratic look.

The Middle Class: Bourgeoisie


Figure 3.7 Le Sermet du Jeu de Paume by Jacques-Louis David represents the Tennis Court Oath 1791 (Ribeiro, 48).

Figure 3.8 'Club Patriotique de Femmes', attributed to Pierre-Etienne Le Sueur (Ribeiro, 89).
  • This image shows the attire of middle class men. Their dress is similar to the upper class men, however it is not as fancy. The suits are English-style, in a plain cloth. The frocks, called greatcoats, are longer, have a looser fit, and do not have as much detail as the upper class'. However, their ties, breeches, tights, and buckled shoes are all similar to the upper class.
  • The women gathered above are dressed in typical middle class clothing. This attire is much more simple than the upper class women's. Their dresses are neat gowns without any hoops or padding for bulges. They are topped with a large kerchief or shawl, and on their heads they wear fashionable ribboned hats or bonnets.

The Lower Class: Laborers

Figure 3.9 'Les Tricoteuses...(un) Jacobin...Le Bonnet Rouge', attributed to Pierre-Etienne Le Sueur (Ribeiro 83).



  • To the left is an example of the clothing worn by working class males and females who are in favor of the Revolution. For the first time, we see men wearing long, baggy pants, or pantalons instead of colons like the upper and middle class men, hence the term sans-culottes. The man is also wearing a long, untailored coat, a short tie, and a plain bonnet (bonnet rouge is a sign of a revolutionary supporter) on his head. The woman is wearing a simple dress typically made of cotton or wool, a plain apron, a kerchief, and a mop cap on her head.