Monday, April 7, 2008

Ordinary People

What did ordinary people wear in eighteenth century England? According to one fascinating article, there were some interesting trends, which were later adopted by a certain Queen of France. (Via LRC)
Quite distinct from this there was also the intriguing trend for elite fashion to follow plebeian styles, rather than the other way about. Rustic round hats percolated upwards to replace cocked hats in the 1770s, and ladies took to wearing milkmaids’ aprons, to the despair of Beau Nash who told the Duchess of Queensberry to remove hers at the Bath Assembly. A French visitor in 1747 was bewildered by all this dressing down: in London, “masters dress like their valets, and duchesses copy after their chamber-maids”. Unlike the peruked exquisites of Versailles, the English dandy affected “a short bob wig without powder, a handkerchief round the neck instead of a cravat, a sailor’s waistcoat, a strong knotty stick, a rough tone and language, an affectation of the airs and manners of the meanest populace”. Most striking of all these reverse trends was the gradual adoption from the 1780s onwards of the seaman’s gear of jacket and loose trousers or “slops," first by other working men and then much more slowly by the elite. This was the greatest revolution in men’s dress since the end of doublet and hose, and it foreshadowed another pleb-to-toff introduction in the twentieth century, the universal spread of blue jeans, originally worn only by cowboys and French workmen.

1 comment:

Brantigny said...

I posted a blog article about hos makeup was made in the 18th century. Beauty be =fore all things, eh?