Pleasures and Pastimes of the Bourgeoisie


Clothing and the Bourgeoisie
~ Pre -revolution

~Fashion in Les Mis

~Rise in Popularity
~Economic and Social Symbolism
~Representation in Les Mis

Gardens ~17th Century ~18th Century ~19th Century ~Versailles

Gambling ~Pre-Revolutionary ~Cafés & Cercles

Opéra & Theatre
~The Revolution
~Social Status
~Les Misérables

Etiquette ~Promenade ~Dances ~Dinner ~Casinos and Salons

Bibliography ~Fashion ~Etiquette ~Restaurants ~Opéra ~Picture Bibliography



"Paris etatit une ville ou on jugeait par l'apparence, il n'ya point de pays au monde ou il soit plus facile d'en imposer." Casanova, Memoires

(click on pictures for source information)

Never anywhere else was it so easy to impersonate a member of the nobility as it was in France during the 18th and the 19th centuries and no one so single-mindedly pursued this goal as did the social climbing bourgeoisie.


The Clothing Timeline


The Sumptuary Laws

Clothing according to class

Constisted of eighteen decrees that were passes between 1485 and 1660 intended to protect the noble appearance from imitation.

"Prohibiting absolutely categorically all persons, commoners, non-nobles ... from assuming the title of nobility either in their style or in their clothes" Roche.

Over time the Sumtuary Laws were relaxed, allowing the Bourgeoisie to imitate without recrimination.

The French Revolution
Some argue that the French Revolution was staged by the Bourgeoisie in order to usurp the noble's status. To keep this alterior motive hidden - to save their lives - the Bourgeoisie had to struggle against their consuming desire to show-off their wealth They demonstated their "loyalty" to the revolution by wearing appropriate clothes - not too rich, not too poor.

Post Revolution Period

Bourgeoisie or Nobility?

Finally the Bourgeoisie were completely free to give in to the strong current of immitation. Indeed, it was socially mandated they do so. For this was the time of conspicuous consumption - the clothes really made the man.