Classicism in fashion (the nineties of 18th century up to the second half of 19th century)

Far away from revolutionary force

From the seventies of the 18th century it came to slow changes also in views of clothing under influence of the Enlightenment. Comfortableness was becoming an important requirement laid on clothing. It was accepted not only in townish environment where it has been everyday necessity already for a long time but also at the sovereign courts.

Within the period etiquette the novelties as lady´s complete: skirt with jacket, chemise – free small shirt for leisure time activities; under clothes it was recommended to not bear bottom ring skirts and corsets. Rationalization influenced also man´s wardrobe (fig. 1). For informal activities it was promoted to wear not tight silky coat – justaucorps but woollen coats like tailcoat and redingot (originally English riding coats). Voluminous three-corner hats were replacing with high cylinder hats. This new fashion did function at the sovereign courts parallely with still being subsiding rococo monumental dresses. Clothing trends penetrated into wardrobe suitable for nonofficial and leisure time social occasions at first. For courtly official activities the rococo fashion was constantly worn thus woman´s clothes à la française and man´s combination justaucorps, veste and culotte.

In 1789 radical political events brought change of fashion especially in France but the rest parts of Europe still remained in courtly regulations which have been reserved to radical changes. Despite this already portrait creation of the end of 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th one brings examples of progressive clothing also in environment of the Hungarian nobility (fig. 2).

In the lady´s wardrobe of nobility French chemises started to wear already not only like a dress suitable for leisure time activities but also for social occasions. They have been sewed of light pale materials, cut under breast, with accessories and hairdos from cut hairs and have varied the noblewomen in spirit of period classicistic ideals (fig. 3). In man´s wardrobe of nobility is varied collar both on the justaucorpseand on tailcoat and redingote which is up to extremely raised into face which is overlapped yet by corners of collar. Around the neck the more times wound-round tie is and only small part of man´s face is visible also for the sake of fashion hairstyles coiffured into the face and of big sideburns (fig. 4).

After 1805 the lady´s silhouette was changed. Self-establishing of Napoleon Bonaparte for emperor brought the return of lustre of aristocratic court. At once at the beginning of empire the Lyon silk manufactures got orders manufactures got orders from Napoleon which traditionally represented huge gains for France. The promotion of these silky fabrics did function as a support of production and sale directly at imperial court in Paris. Chemise sewn-up already not from light cotton fabrics but of silky ones so lost its flowing ability and it acquired certain rigidity in silhouette. It has been completed with various details like standing collar, balloon-shaped sleeves or upper tunic on skirt and it was getting into whole Europe as a pattern (fig. 5). Hairstyles had still hairs combed into cheek in ancient way and women had their hairs even for the first time in history of the European fashion cut short. It can´t be said, that this is vagary but also period portraits of Hungarian noblewomen bear witness thereto   (fig. 6).

Aesthetical criterion defeats political loyalty

In this case the fashion went against political loyalty. The French fashion has been worn by female representatives of all European courts for which Napoleon represented big political threat. Also at the Vienna congress (September 1814 – June 1815) where were newly organized frontiers of the states after Napoleon´s wars and where beside seriouss negotiations did run brisk social life, the French chemise was the main lady´s gown (fig. 7).

In townspeople´s environment of Hungary this type of fashion was not taken-up. It was especially for women very too impractical. They were fond of Hungarian clothing or yet of rococo cut of clothes (fig. 8).