Kostume. IV: 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, 1894
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Kostume. IV: 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, 1894

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Kostüme. IV: 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, from edition fourteen of Brockhaus' Konversations-Lexikon, 1894.

The eight figures in the plate represent changes in men and women's clothing styles in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While not all clothing trends are represented in this print, each couple represents a dominant style of upper class clothing during the two centuries. Fashion trends are influenced by economic, social, and political changes just like other aspects of life. This was especially true in the early modern period as countries started to change under the influence of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Each figure in this print has an accompanying footnote, which indicates either what the person is wearing or when the style was popular. The first two figures are wearing fashions popular during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Figures three and four are wearing clothing that was popular during the mid seventeenth century. The next couple is wearing the court styles dominant during the reign of Louis XV of France. Next to them, figures seven and eight showcase the radical shift in fashion at the end of the eighteenth century.

As one of the most devastating conflicts in European history, the Thirty Years War had a dramatic impact on the structure of the continent. Almost all the major powers became involved in what initially began as a religious war within the Holy Roman Empire between Catholics and Protestants. The widespread effects of the war began to influence styles of dress. Opulent styles and fabrics were replaced by more modest designs. Men's fashion was strongly influenced by military attire, as seen in figure one. He is wearing a sleeveless, thigh-length jerkin with a high waistline over his doublet, which has slashed sleeves. His trunk hose can be viewed between the hem of the jerkin and the tops of his boots, which replaced shoes during the period as standard footwear. Other items characteristic of the period are his wide-brimmed feathered hat, a flat broad collar, and the sash at his waist. He still wears a baldric for carrying his sword. Women's fashion experienced a shift toward broader, less severe silhouettes with fuller sleeves. Figure two is wearing a wide-brimmed feathered hat over a coif, or cap, which was worn by married women. Her white shift, or chemise, has a high neckline and long sleeve. She still wears a ruff around her neck though it was dying trend. The bodice has a low waistline and a short overskirt, which rests over the long petticoat. Some of the characteristics such as the height of the waist would change a few times through the beginning of the century, but the broad silhouette would remain dominant.

Following the end of the war fashion would rapidly shift toward more decorative styles. Ribbons, frills, and lace became popular elements on clothing for both men and women. Court life became increasingly extravagant, particularly during the reigns of Charles II in England and Louis XIV in France. Men's fashion lost the military influence and trunk hose was abandoned in favor of breeches. Shoes again became the dominant footwear and they were often tied with ribbon. In 1666, Charles II implemented a standard of court dress that consisted of a coat, waistcoat, cravat, periwig, breeches, and a hat. These elements would remain part of men's attire for the next century and a half though the individual pieces would undergo stylistic changes. Figure three is dressed in the style that was popular in the 1650s. He is wearing a short jacket with elbow length sleeves and cuffs over a full, long-sleeved shirt. At his neck is a cravat and cloak rests on his left shoulder. His breeches are long and decorated with ribbon. Due to their resemblance to women's skirts they were referred to as petticoat breeches. Stockings are worn with his shoes and he holds his hat in his hand. His hair is worn shoulder-length in soft curls with bangs. Women's fashions adopted a long silhouette with a horizontal emphasis at the shoulder. Gowns had low and narrow waists and were often open to display the petticoat underneath the skirt. If the bodice of the gown were open, it would be filled in with a decorated stomacher to hide the corset laces. Figure four is wearing an open gown with slashed elbow-length sleeves over a petticoat. The gown is off the shoulder and trimmed with lace. The bodice and the overskirt match, but the petticoat is a different fabric, which was usually the case. She holds a fan in her gloved hands and her shift sleeves are full and gathered. Her hair is tied with a ribbon and the curls fall on either side of her face. Later during the period the mantua would become a popular dress style. Mantua gowns were cut as one piece and covered the shoulders.

The reign of Louis XV lasted fifty-nine years and life at court was one of lavish excess. Rococo artistic styles began to replace the Baroque. An emphasis on ornate ornamentation and elegant designs became fashionable. Men's attire continued to consist of coat, waistcoat, and breeches, but differences began to develop between full dress and undress, or everyday, outfits. Increased interest in outdoor sports caused a preference for clothes made of sturdier fabrics with more tailoring. Figure six is wearing a long coat over his shirt and waistcoat. His breeches reach just below the knee and a tailored to the leg. Under his arm is a tricorne hat, which was popular during the period, and a cravat is tied at his neck. His wig is powered and clubbed and his shoes are fastened with buckles instead of ribbon. The lack of ornament on his clothes indicates that this figure is wearing an undress style instead of full court dress. There was also a difference between women's everyday wear and full dress, though it is not as pronounced. Hoop skirts were still worn but the extreme versions were reserved for the most formal occasions. Figure five is wearing a robe a la polonaise over a matching petticoat with a stomacher. The gown is similar to mantua, being that it covers the shoulders and is cut as one piece, however, the skirt cuts away and is looped up over the petticoat. While the sleeves are still elbow length they are much narrower than before. Engageantes of lace are attached to the shift sleeve to add a decorative ruffle. Her hair is pulled high on her head and is powdered, like the man's wig.

During Louis' XV reign France participated in a number of wars. These wars coupled with the extravagance of Louis' court placed a financial strain on the people. Public dissatisfaction began to grow and the monarchy's reputation was damaged. This discontent would result in the French Revolution, which erupted fifteen years after his death. The radical change in government caused the rejection of anything associated with the Ancien Regime. French fashion quickly abandoned the expensive styles of court for more modest and practical clothing. While the difference between figures six and seven is quite noticeable some of the basic tenants of men's dress are present in both. Figure seven still wears a long coat over a waistcoat and shirt. However, the waistcoat is much shorter than before and the justacorps coat has been replaced by the simpler frock coat. Instead of a cravat he has a stock tie at his throat. He is wearing jockey boots (the cuff is lighter than the rest of the boot) and a flat brimmed felt hat is on his head. Shoes were still worn by some but boots were preferred for outdoor wear and by horsemen. Women's fashion began to feature a greater variety of styles. Skirts remained full but they were not as wide as in previous periods. The chemise gown emerged on the scene in the 1780s when Marie Antoinette was rebelling against stiff court styles. Muslin and fine linen gowns became increasingly preferred over satin and silk. Another gown alternative was to pair a jacket, such as a caraco or redingote, with a petticoat. Figure eight is dressed in the more informal jacket-petticoat style. Her bodice has long sleeves and a short overskirt ruffle around the slightly pointed waistline. The petticoat is long and plainly adorned. Around her shoulders she wears a kerchief, or fichu, which was a popular means of filling in a low neckline. She wears a simple cap over her hair.

- Naomi Bean

 

Plate size: 5" x 8"
Sheet size: 6.25" x 9.75"
Condition: Some print loss to figure 4 and figure 6. Otherwise, excellent.