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18th Century

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18th Century

The Eighteenth Century

During the 18th century, Louis XV became the King of France at age 5. A new

style, Rococo, was introduced which created a more slender and delicate appearance with an asymmetrical balance. Also, during this period of time France was involved in many wars which caused the country to go into debt. Louis XV died in 1774 who was known to be the most hated king. His grandson, Louis XVI became king. At the age of 14, he married an Austrian princess, Marie Antoinette, who did not like the customs and etiquette of the French court. Due to the success of the American Revolution, which France assisted in the financing of, Frenchmen were encouraged to reform the government and society. In 1789, the French government went bankrupt resulting in the writing of the constitution.

The center of France became Paris. Louis XV, at the age of 13, returned to Versailles and the palace was once again the center of royal life. It became not as important during the reign of Louis XVI, because of Queen Marie Antoinette and her dislike of the French etiquette. She was extravagant in her spending when France was having financial difficulty. Marie and her friend created a fashion for peasant-style dresses and hats. Her lifestyle was a cause in the decline of support for the monarchy.

For England, the center of fashion was London, but small towns and country estates had their own social class structure and had an interest in fashion. Fashionable clothing was divided based on the time of day. Men's garments were divided by undress or lounging clothes, dress was daytime or evening wear, and full dress was the most formal evening dress. Nightgown was not for sleeping but a dressing gown or informal robe that was worn indoors. A powdering jacket was worn when the men had their wigs powdered. Women's clothing was divided as undress, half dress or morning dress. Habit was a riding costume or a tailor-made costume. Her coat was not for outdoors, but was the petticoat. Her coat was called a greatcoat.

The Flying Shuttle was invented in 1733, which increased the production of clothing. Cotton became less expensive. Textiles that had elaborate and sophisticated patterns were manufactured in Europe. The 18th century influenced male tailors to make men's suits and coasts and women make dresses for women.

The 18th century styles reflected the increased trade between Europe and the Far East. Textiles that were imported are Oriental silk brocades and damasks, Indian chintz, calico, and muslin fabrics. European copies of the fabrics were made into handsome garments. Anglomania was created by a French fad for English things in women's clothing.

The major garments of men's dress consisted of underdrawers, shirt, waistcoat, outer coat, knee-length breeches, hose, and shoes. On occasion, hats and wigs were added with other accessories and outdoor wear. These garments were constant through the century, but the styles changed during the first and second halves. The drawers are equal to modern undershirts or medieval braies, which were worn under breeches, closing at the waist with drawstrings or buttons. Shirts were very similar to ones in the prior centuries, but now were shown with ruffled frill at the front of the neck and sleeves. Undervests or under waistcoats were worn during cold weather or as a second waistcoat over or under the shirt. If worn over the shirt, the undervest had a visible collar. Collars and cravats were another part of the men's garments. During the first half of the century, collars gathered to a neck band with neck cloths or cravats around the neck and knotted under the chin, concealing the collar. At the second half of the century, the neck bands were extended which evolved

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