Dress During Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI 1643-1789
( Originally Published 1926 )
The reign of Louis XIV is a synonym for everything which is gorgeous and elaborate in architecture, furniture, and costume. Through the strong personality of the man we find the influence of a woman, as his various mistresses, from La Vallier to staid and strict Mme. de Maintenon made their various impressions on the life and modes of the day. Mme. de Montespan might well have said: "La mode c'est moi !" as Louis said : " L'etat c'est moi ! "'
He was rightly called "La Grand Monarch'" or the "Sun King." No other personality, with the exception of Napoleon, ever dominated French history to the extent that he did. He commanded a court of luxury, splendor, and pleasure, even though he was continually passing edicts forbid-ding extravagance. The court followed his lead, the people of the town followed the court, and extravagance ran riot. Fashions followed each other in rapid succession; this was especially true of the dress of the men, which seems to have been even more elaborate than that of the women.
The artisans and shopkeepers reaped the benefit of this extravagance, and the peasants paid the penalty, many of them being in the direst poverty and distress. The nobility ran up enormous debts to keep up the pace, the Duke of Conde owing over 300,000 francs. The king was most exacting and punctilious in the matter of dress, and a certain amount of etiquette and dress had to be observed; he often presented his courtiers with materials and even the finished costume. When the pavilion at Marley was completed, each lady found a costume and a quantity of lace in her wardrobe.'
During the minority of Louis XIV fashions were dominated by the Duchesses of Chevereux, Montbason, de Bouillon, de Longueville, and de Montpensier; their influence was also felt in the politics of the time. As members of the Fronde they did not hesitate to join in the fighting, and often harangued the troops from the steps of the Hotel de Ville, and helped in turning the guns of the Bastille on the royalists.'
Materials.—The materials used in the costumes were magnificent in both color and texture. Gros de Naples, a heavy silk, was brocaded in gold leaves, and red, violet, and gold and silver flowers. Gold cloth was reserved for the monarch and his favorites at the court, and this was regulated by edicts which prohibited those of lower station to wear it.
Lace being in great demand, Colbert, the prime minister, established in 1665 lace industries at Alencon, Valenciennes, Arras, Quesnoy, Sedan, Chateau-Thierry, Loudon, and Aurillac, by bringing lace-makers from Venice to France, and making conditions so attractive for them that they preferred to remain rather than return to their own country. Edicts were passed to forbid the buying of lace in other countries, in order to protect and support the industry in France, which was under the protection of the crown and furnished some of the revenues.
Mme. de Sevigne describes a dress worn by Mme. de Montespan at one of the court functions as "a gown of gold on gold, embroidered in gold, bordered with gold, and over that gold frieze stitched with a gold mixed with a certain gold which makes the most divine stuff that has ever been imagined." ' It is difficult to imagine such a resplendent gown, even in the day of gorgeous materials.
Painted linens, embroidered India muslins, transparent black materials, glace satins, and velvets were also used, and elaborate brocades and ribbons of all kinds added to the decoration, not only of the gowns of the women, but on the periwigs, waists, sleeves, knees, and even the boots of the men.
To supply the silk for these materials, white silkworms were brought into France from northern Italy, and an extensive silk industry was established at Lyons. Colbert, wishing to increase the revenues of the crown in every way possible, established many factories, among them that of the Gobelin for the manufacture of furniture and tapestries. The making of fans had become such an extensive business that the fan-makers formed themselves into a guild, and asked for a charter with statutes and privileges, and by the eighteenth century there were 500 fan manufacturers in Paris.
Women's Dress.—During the early days of the regency of Louis XIV dress was dominated by the "Frondeuse," and there was a gradual transition from the broad shoulders of the reign of Louis XIII to the narrow, tight sleeve, which was one of the distinguishing features of the latter half of the seventeenth century. The dress showed some masculine influence, the loose waist, or "justacorps," being similar to the "pour point," or vest, worn by the men. The squares below the waistline had disappeared and had been replaced by a long point.
The upper skirt was divided in the centre and drawn back over a petticoat of brocade, watered silk, or glace satin, which reached to the floor; it was bunched at the side and back, and terminated in a long train. The upper skirt gradually developed into the "pannier," which was so popular during the reign of Louis XV. The bodice was cut low and round in the neck, and was finished with a turn-down collar, bands of gimp, or jewelled embroidery. The sleeves set into a low-cut armhole were a series of small puffs, graduually increasing in size as they reached the lower arm, where they finished in a ruffle of lace. They were often banded between the puffs with ribbon or gimp, and ornamented with rosettes. The front of the waist was embroidered or jewelled to form the stomacher.
There seems to be no mention of outer garments, but without doubt the long, full, cape-like cloak of the early part of the century was still in use. Hats with wide brims, ornamented with drooping plumes, were worn, except for travelling, when the hood attached to the cape was drawn over the head.
Head-dresses.—The hair was arranged in a simple fashion, curled at the sides and on the forehead, and generally tied at the back with a bunch of ribbons, or braided and fastened with a bow of ribbon; the latter fashion was known as "cadenettes" or "gallants," having been originated by M. de Cadanet, a brother of the Constable de Luynes in the time of Louis XIII.'
Men's Dress.—With the return of the Stuarts to the throne of England, the dress of the men took on a decidedly frivolous character, reflecting the influence of France. The greatest change came about in the style of the breeches and coat; the former, called petticoat, were very full and plaited at the waist, and reached nearly to the knees; they were ruffled and elaborately trimmed with embroidery and were made of silk, satin, or velvet. The coat was cut short to show the full linen shirt at the waistline and in front, and the full linen sleeves below the elbow. The neck of the shirt was finished with a collar, and a cravat of lace, which hung down the front of the shirt, and the sleeves had deep ruffles of lace at the hand. Rosettes of ribbon ornamented the shoulders, elbows, and sides of the breeches, and sometimes the front; some portraits show a knee-trouser below this skirt.
Foot-gear.—With this costume were worn long white or colored hose. A low shoe with a high heel and a flap or tongue in front had replaced the huge boots quite generally. The ribbon bows or rosettes were repeated on the shoe.
Head-gear and Accessories.—The most noticeable feature of the men's costume was the immense wigs of curled hair. It is said these originated from the fact that "Louis XIV had, when a child, remarkably beautiful hair, which . fell in curls onto his shoulders, and to imitate this his courtiers put on false hair." ' The wearing of wigs lasted for over a century; they went through many changes, but they were never quite so exaggerated as during this period. Velvet or felt hats, with a brim two inches wide, ornamented with long, sweeping plumes, in colors to match the costume, were worn, or more often carried in the hand. Gloves were similar to those of the earlier part of the century, but had deeper gantlets.
Women's Dress.—About 1680 a very decided change is noticeable in fashion. The under-petticoat of watered or glace satin was elaborately trimmed with horizontal bands of gold or silk embroidery of different widths, the upper one narrower than that at the bottom. The upper skirt was gathered very full at the waist, and was divided in front and looped up at the sides and back, where it terminated in a long train. The bodice was tight-fitting, with a point in front, a square neck, and elbow sleeves which fitted close to the arm. The decorations on this bodice took the form of elaborately embroidered bands which outlined the neck and formed a V-vest or stomacher; this was decorated in various ways, a favorite one being small bows of ribbon, called "echelles," or ladders; the square neck had a tucker of lace across the front, and the sleeves were finished with deep ruffles of lace.
The fashion of transparent gowns made of black tissue, or English lace, called "transparents," was in vogue for a few years, according to Mme. de Sevigne. These were worn over resplendent brocades of gold and silver. They seem to have been a sort of overdress, that could be added or left off, as she speaks of a person being able to have a black gown, or a gown of gold, silver, or color, as they wished.'
Head-dresses.—One of the distinguishing characteristics of the costume was the peculiar style of head-dress named for the Duchesse de Fontanges, who was the king's favorite at the time. One day in the year 1680, while she was attending a royal hunting-party, her hat was blown off, and to keep her hair in order she bound it around her head with. her ribbon garter, which was decorated with a large rosette. The king was charmed with her disordered locks, and so, of course, were all of the courtiers, and the next day all the ladies of the court appeared with their hair arranged in this manner. A high plaiting of lace or muslin soon took the place of the rosette of ribbon, and a veil of lace hung down behind; the hair itself was curled and arranged rather high from the forehead, and curls hung at the sides of the face; the cap was decorated with ribbons. This edifice of lace increased in size until Saint Simon describes it as being two feet high. It was constructed on a framework of brass wire and was divided into several tiers. These were covered with flowers, aigrettes, ribbons, and lace, and each had its appropriate name, such as duchess, the capuchin, the cabbage, the asparagus, the cat, the organ-pipe, the first and second sky, and the mouse, a little bow of nonpareil fixed in a mass of frizzed hair that was arranged below the curled fontanges.
Foot-gear and Accessories.—Slippers had heels often measuring six inches; they were made of colored satin to match the costume, and many good examples may be found in the Musee Cluny, in Paris; with these were worn stockings of one color, with clocks of another. Small feet were considered the thing, and many women bound theirs with bands of their hair to make them smaller; this, in connection with high heels and the very tight lacing, made the women so uncomfortable that they often fainted. Patches had been discarded almost entirely by the Englishwomen, but they were still used in France; they were named according to their position on the face: at the corner of the eye "passionee," in the centre of the forehead "majesteuse," at the corner of the mouth "baiseuse," on the nose "effronter," and on the lips "coquette." '
The wearing of masks was governed by a decided etiquette: they must be removed when courtesying to any one, especially royalty, and where persons of rank were present, except when riding in a coach. Fans were much in demand on account of the extreme discomfort of tight lacing and high heels.
While Louis XIV was under the influence of Mme. de Maintenon, "the eminent refrigerator," as she is called by Robida, fashions became much more simple and austere, colors were sombre, flowered stuffs and gold and silver brocades disappeared, dress still held its former pomp and formality, but had a sumptuous severity.' With the passing of Mme. de Maintenon this again changed, and the close of the reign of the Sun King was one of great pomp and splendor.
Men's Dress.—About i660 the dress of the men underwent a change also, and the forerunner of the modern frock coat made its appearance. This change "separates the old world of dress from the new; it is the advent of the frocked coats, the ancestor of our frock coat." It seems to have been borrowed from the Persians and to have originated in England, where it took the form of a long coat, with skirts slightly flared and reaching to the knee . It buttoned up the front to the neck, where it finished with a stock and cravat of lace ; the sleeves were long with flaring cuffs, which sometimes turned back, and were buttoned to the sleeve itself with two or three buttons; the full ruffled sleeve of the shirt showed below and fell over the hand. When this coat was left unbuttoned it showed the long, straight vest, which was elaborately embroidered, or set with precious stones and often fastened with diamond buttons.
Petticoat breeches were still worn with this costume, and they finished just above the knee, where they were decorated with ribbon rosettes. Much elaboration and decoration was used on the coat, especially in France, where the skirt was fuller and shorter, and heavily embroidered. The first fashion-books that were printed were brought out at this time by the king, for the benefit of the men of his court.
Head-gear.—Huge wigs remained in fashion; they took many forms, the most popular being the one with long curls which hung over the shoulders and often to the waist in the back, the front being made with shorter curls. During the reign of Charles II they were often ornamented with clusters of ribbons. They were expensive, costing as much as one hundred pounds. Pepys, in his diary of October 30, 1663, mentions paying three pounds for one wig and forty shillings for another, and says: "I have worn neither yet, but will begin next week, God willing."
Each class of society had an especial shaped wig, and in England the judges and barristers still wear them when attending court. Various names were given to them, such as the comet, the cauliflower, the ladder, the she-dragon, the chancellor, the cut bob and the long bob. Hats had wide brims and were often turned up to form the tricorne; they were loaded with plumes of all colors and had a jewel on the front of the hat or on the turned-up brim.
Foot-gear—Little change seems to have been made in the shoes and hose; the former had square toes and high heels; the bow at the front of the long tongue had become smaller. They were occasionally made of colored leather and cut low at the side to show the stockings; rose color seems to have been popular for hose. Robida describes a pair of shoes in the Musee Cluny as having black ornaments on tan leather.
Louis XV, 1715-1774.—If fashion at the end of Louis XIV's reign could be called solemn and pompous, that of the regency and Louis XV's might be termed gay and frivolous. Society seems to have broken loose after the strict influence of Mme. de Maintenon and run riot for nearly a century, until the Revolution brought the people to their senses again.
Materials.—The texture of the materials changed ; the heavy brocades and stiff silks of the former century disappeared, and in their place came soft silks, with small bunches of flowers brocaded or stamped on light-colored grounds, India muslins, or "indiennes," colored prints of cotton, manufactured by Obercampf, and laces with net foundations, in the form of flouncing. Ribbons were still used, but not in such profusion, and they were often combined with artificial flowers, a new form of decoration which was taking the , place of the elaborate embroideries of the preceding century.
Women's Dress.—The leading characteristics of the eighteenth century seem to have been the pannier and the return of the vertugadine. About 1711 panniers made of stiffened linen made their appearance. These increased in size until in 1730 they measured six feet in diameter. They extended on the hips and at the back, and a certain type of dress was designed to cover them. Unlike most fashions, this one was introduced into France by two Englishwomen, who appeared in the Garden of the Tuileries wearing the "farthingale," as it was called in England. They caused much excitement, and finally had to be protected by officers of the guard.' The name "criard" was given to this style, because of the noise that was made when the women moved ; eventually, as they increased in size, a cage of willow or whalebone was used to hold them out, making a short woman look like a moving ball. In order to allow women to sit down, the arms of the Louis XV chairs were cut partly away. Edicts were passed forbidding the princesses to draw their chairs near that of the queen, as their panniers would interfere.
They became the dread of husbands and the ruin of homes and the misery of the passer by. Two women could not walk abreast without taking up the entire walk. An amusing story is told of a sailor who wished to pass two ladies who were walking in Paris; he looked from side to side, and finally solved the problem by jumping over the panniers between them. They were called "extinguisher" and "elbow," on which the elbow might be rested or supported. The trade in whalebone was so great that a company was formed in East Friesland, and the government of the Netherlands authorized a loan of 600,000 florins to support the whale-fisheries.
Little change was made from the typical dress of Louis XIV, except in the kind of materials and the mode of trimming. Flounces took the place of the heavy embroidered bands on the underskirt, and were made of the same materials as the skirt or of lace ; they were also used in the form of puffs on the looped-up overdress, which had discarded its train. The ruffles at the elbow of the tight sleeve increased in number and fulness, and the square neck had a ruffle, generally of lace, which laid up on the neck. As the pannier increased in size the style of dress changed, and a loose, flowing garment called "robe volontes" took the place of the more formal and snug-fitting gown; this is the one still known as the "Watteau." It hung from the square neck rather straight in front, and with a deep plait at the back, and was unconfined at the waist. It was made of the light-weight materials described before, and decorated with niches of lace or gauze, put on in curves or festoons and ribbons combined with artificial flowers.
Young girls wore gowns of white gauze or embroidered muslin over slips of colored silk. The sleeves were tight at the top and flared at the elbow, where they were filled in with ruffles of lace, and a niche of lace encircled the neck, forming a small ruff. A woman dressed in this manner must have looked like an animated pyramid. For an outer garment a short mantilla made of light-colored silk and edged with ruffles, with an attached hood, also ruffled, was worn in warm weather. Long cloaks, with hoods held out about the face with a hoop of brass, were also used, and in winter furs were worn extensively, large muffs being carried to cover the bare arms. Pelisses trimmed with fur, and buttoned from the neck to the hem, kept these fair ladies warm.
Head-gear.—The hair was being dressed more conservatively. It was often worn parted in front, with long curls at the back, which were partly concealed by a flowing veil, or it was drawn up on the top of the head and ornamented with strings of pearls or rows of diamonds and even twists of different-colored hair, called "postiches." Some of the pictures of that day show the hair powdered. In England a close cap with a frill and long tabs hanging down to the shoulders was worn, and over this, out-of-doors, a straw hat was tied on under the chin with ribbons. These hats and hoods for winter seem to have taken the place of the velvet and felt hats worn formerly.
By 1770 monumental head-dresses were in full force, although in 1730 there is an account of its taking a day to complete this work of art, and report says that the Countess of Mailly retired to rest at night with her hair dressed and wearing all her diamonds. It was no uncommon thing for the hair to remain dressed for a month. Ladies were very dependent on their hair-dressers, who became most impertinent in consequence, and would often leave when the hair was half finished; the wives of the wig-makers seem to have been preferred to the men. Some of the head-dresses were a half-yard high, and were built up on structures of wire or tow. The hair was arranged in "great curls, rolls, and bobs, etc., with false hair added, the whole freely plastered over with powder, pomatum, etc., decorated with huge bows, ribbons, feathers, and flowers." '
Hair-dressing was considered an art, and was compared to that of the poet or painter. A lawsuit between the ladies' hair-dressers and the barbers brought out the fact that there were 1,200 of them in Paris alone.
It was a difficult matter for the great ladies of the time to get themselves transported to and from the elaborate functions which took place. Their beautifully painted and gilded coaches were hardly large enough to hold their enormous panniers, and they were often obliged to kneel on the floor or put their heads out of the window on account of their towering head-dresses.
Accessories.—Powder, rouge, and patches were still used to excess, and a great lady was never seen without her box of rouge and patches.
This was the century of the fan, although it had been in use ever since Catherine de Medici introduced it into France. Many artists of the day, Watteau, Lancret, and others, decorated them, and they were mounted on carved sticks of ivory and mother-of-pearl. In the hands of the ladies of the time they swayed the destinies of the world, in art, letters, and politics. Jewels in great profusion were worn; rubies,emeralds, and diamonds were set in gold, which was chased in designs of garlands or flowers to best show them off. Imitation jewelry appears for the first time, pearls made from whitebait, a very small fish, and imitation stones called "temple jewelry."
Men's Dress.—The principal change in the costume of the men during the reign of Louis XV seems to have been in the length and fulness of the coats; as the size of the pannier increased, so in proportion did the fulness of the skirt of the coats of the men. They were held out with buckram, and also by laying the stiff brocade which was used in plaits on the hips. The vest was still long, and was buttoned with four buttons at the waistline, being left open at the neck to show the frilled shirt-front and cravat of exquisite lace. This was held in place by a black velvet bow, which was often a part of the ribbon used to tie the queue of the powdered wig. The coat and vest were elaborately embroidered and trimmed with gold lace or galloon, and often a fringe of gold finished the lower edge of the vest. Pockets with deep flaps and turn-back cuffs were buttoned onto the coat with from three to five jewelled buttons. Deep ruffles of lace finished the sleeve, drooping over the hand.
The breeches had lost most of their fulness and were fitted close at the knee, where they were closed with several buttons. Ribbon decorations were superseded by buttons in nearly every case. A sword was carried with this costume, being brought through the plaits at the side of the coat ; it helped to hold out the skirt. The long coats made any outer garments unnecessary except in very cold weather, when longer cloaks were worn.'
Head-gear.—The huge curled wigs of the former reign were gone, and in their place had come the powdered wig with the queue. This type of wig underwent many changes, but these were principally in the way in which the hair was arranged at the side of the face and the length of the queue;the latter was sometimes enclosed in a bag and sometimes tied at the back with a black bow. Hats were still three-cornered, the brims being narrower, and in most cases bound with gold galloon. They were trimmed with flat rosettes of ribbon, instead of plumes, and were generally carried in the hand, so as not to disarrange the wig.
Foot-gear and Accessories.—Very little change in foot-gear is noticed; the stockings were clocked and extended over the cuff of the breeches; the shoes were still low, but with heels much higher and painted red, and buckles were beginning to replace the bows and rosettes in front. The exquisites, or dandies, carried lace-trimmed handkerchiefs, muffs, and canes; snuff-boxes with beautifully painted tops were used by men and women, and the custom of taking snuff was considered very elegant.
1774-1789, Louis XVI.—Marie Antoinette was the last queen in France responsible for setting the fashions; her word was law to all the ladies of that day. Her influence was felt while she was still the dauphiness, and her slightest caprice was followed. Her reign was short, but versatile, and fashions followed each other in rapid succession, from the overelaborate pannier gown of Louis XV to the rather masculine attire borrowed from the English. At times she seems to have wished for a less formal and stilted existence, and her attempt to lead the simple life brought about the experiment of the Farm at Versailles. This, of course, was the farm of the "comic opera," not the reality of France of that time, but its influence was felt by the introduction of peasant types into the dress of that period.
Materials.—The materials used for gowns were much the same, but they had acquired peculiar names. All the colors of the rainbow were there, and named for events which occurred and novels which were written. "Puce," or flea-color, a rather dark brown, was one of the favorites, after Louis XVI admired the queen in a dress of that color. The bourgeoisie adopted it, as it did not show soil as easily as the lighter colors. "Canary's tail," "stifled sigh," "lively shepherdess," a green-and-white striped silk, "carmalite," and many others too numerous to mention, were among the strange names. Stripes of all kinds were used for the costumes of men, women, and even the children. Gauze, lace, and fur served to decorate, combined with artificial flowers and ribbons. The day of the heavy embroideries and jewels had passed, and in its place had come that of light and airy trimmings.
Women's Dress—Watteau gowns were a thing of the past, and the tight, pointed bodice had returned. The neck was cut square and very low, and the sleeves were tight to the elbow, where they finished with several very full ruffles of lace; the neck was also edged with lace, and a narrow ruffle finished the edge of the vest, which was generally laced together with ribbons. Panniers still held sway, and the upper skirt of brocaded or printed silk was looped up over a skirt of another color or, for plainer dress, of the same color. Skirts were very long and much decorated with ruffles, festoons, and garlands. As the head-dress increased in height, the skirts of the gowns grew shorter, and by 1780 they were about ankle-length ; the bouffant pannier trimmed with puffs or ruffles gave a most grotesque appearance to the figure.
This seems to have been the last fling of the pannier. Some authorities say that the actresses refused to wear them, and others that Rose Bertin, the celebrated modiste of that time, decreed otherwise ; at any rate, they were given up, and skirts became long and clinging. The bodice shortened and was buttoned up double-breasted, the sleeves were tight and lengthened to the wrist, and the neck was finished with a very bouffant fichu, which gave the figure a peculiar high-chested appearance. To add to the masculine effect of this costume two watches with fobs were worn at each side of the belt, and a long cane was carried. Eventually the fichu gave place to the English fashion of waistcoat and frock coats, with large turn-down collars. For outer wear these coats often had triple capes, and were closed with two rows of large buttons. They fitted close to the figure and were long in the back, something like a man's dress coat. There was still a strict etiquette observed in regard to dress, and a distinction was made between full and half dress; this had held since the days of Louis XIV and it continued to the days of the French Revolution.
Head-gear—The art of the hair-dresser reached its zenith about 1772. They were "taking women's heads for the parade-ground of their maddest whim"; they "loaded them with the most absurd inventions under the pretext of beautifying them"; they "transformed them into landscapes, or, indeed, into sea-pieces"; they befeathered them, and raised them up to a fabulous height, "erected edifices upon them, with little cardboard figures of men and women."' This absurd style lasted for twenty years, although there seems to have been some changes, as mention is made of the queen setting the style for short hair, called "coiffure de l'enfant," after the birth of one of her children. Another style of hair-dressing that has been made familiar through the portraits of that period was called " herisson," or "hedge-hog"; the hair was curled and piled on the top of the head, and was encircled with a band of ribbon or wreath of roses; that style was not always powdered.
The fashion of wearing high feathers in the hair was also set by Marie Antoinette, when she was the dauphiness; these feathers were very expensive, sometimes costing the equivalent of $250; they were used only for full evening dress, and a gathering of ladies in the Salle de Glace at Versailles must have looked like a forest of colored plumes.
Leonard stood at the head of the hair-dressers, and Rose Bertin dominated the art of dress. The doorways had to be made higher as well as broader, and much trouble was found when the ladies rode in their carriages. To add to their troubles, enormous hats were designed to wear on top of these piles of hair. They were trimmed with the same absurdities that had decorated the hair, one having a man-of-war, with cannon on the brim.. Perhaps the most celebrated of all these grotesque masterpieces was that called the "Belle Poule"; it represented a full-rigged ship on a sea of hair, arranged in rolling waves, and was designed to commemorate the victory of the Belle Poule over the English frigate Arethusa in 1778. It was not until the managers of the theatres began to object to these monumental head-dresses that they were given up, and the ladies adopted the "cadogan," an English style, similar to the wigs worn by the men. The hair was still powdered, but it was bunched out at the side and braided or curled, and looped up at the back.
There must have been a great deal of rouge and powder used, as Lady Mary Wortley Montague describes the Pari siennes of that day as looking more like "skinned sheep" than human beings, with their "woolly white hair and fiery red faces."
Men's Dress —There seems to have been less change in the dress of the men, except that it was beginning to tend toward the plain dress that came into fashion with the Revolution. The skirt of the coat was not so full, and was becoming shorter, and eventually it was cut away in front, but left long in the back, where it was slit to the waist-line, two buttons appearing at that point. These, according to Webb, were used to button back the skirt of the coat when on horseback. The vest Was much shorter and was cut away at the bottom and at the neck, where the stock and cravat of lace showed ; the coat had acquired lapels and a turn-down collar. The breeches were tight and buttoned below the knee ; high boots, or long stockings and low shoes with buckles, were worn.
Head-gear and Accessories.—Like the women, the principal changes in style came about in the wigs; they were still powdered and had a queue, which was tied with a black ribbon, but the arrangement about the face changed and the length of the queue. Hats were still tricorne, or else turned up sharply front and back.
Two watches with heavy fobs, often made up of all sorts of baubles, or "breloques," as they were called in France, were carried in pockets at each side of the breeches.
In the century and a half which has been covered in this chapter many changes have taken place, but through it all runs the same sort of extravagance and lack of consideration for the masses of people who were toiling that a few of those at the top might live in luxury. That France did not realize the condition of her peasants is shown in the remark of Marie Antoinette when told that her people were starving for lack of bread; "Why do they not eat cake ?" was her reply. Fashions followed each other in such rapid succession that it is impossible to describe all the minute changes in detail which took place; only the distinct characteristics have been touched upon.