Eighteenth Century; Its institutions, customs, and costumes, France, 1700-1789: Ballroom scene

Date Depicted:
1700 AD - 1799 AD
1850 AD - 1899 AD
The court gown or "grand habit" requires the very wide panier. Wearing the panier calls for stately movement. Gestures are rehearsed; the most important is the sweep of the bended arm.
There are two trends. On the one hand, Early Georgian garments are exaggerated by excessive decoration; on the other, new garments are introduced which are simple and undecorated. The sack gown remains popular. In its court version, it is heavily decorated with a wide band of passementerie along the front edge of the overgown and at the bottom of the petticoat. The basic Early Georgian gown is now the formal court gown. As well as being highly decorated, it is changed in three important ways: the bodice neckline falls slightly off the shoulders and is held up by adjustable straps; the skirt is usually open at the center front; and a train is attached at the waist. The polonaise is a new gown which is boatlike in form. Open in front, it fastens over the bosom and is cut away to show the fitted bodice underneath. Usually it has a bustle pad and an overskirt draped like a venetian shade. The English gown reflects the trend toward simplicity. Modestly decorated, it is made of plain satins or, introduced for the first time, fabrics with a small-scale pattern. The corset is retained. Paniers are reduced to very small pads or replaced by a small bustle pad. The skirt is attached to the bodice waistline; extra fullness surrounds a point at the center back. Sleeves are long and fitted, ending at the wrist. Another fashionable version of the English gown is cut with a surplice bodice and round waist. The surplice is draped softly over a low-cut underbodice. A puffy fichu fills in the low neckline. Sleeves are long and tight. A long skirt has only a bustle pad; its fullness is centered at the back. Capes are over the voluminous gowns. Shawls become popular for the more slender gowns. The mantelet is a new shaped shawl. Jewelry is sparse. With the revival of interest in classical antiquity, the cameo becomes most important. It is set in brooches, bracelets, and necklaces. Other jewelry includes diamond stickpins, hairpins, and the chatelaine, a chain which is hooked to the waist for carrying a watch, keys, a scissor, and thimble. Hair and Hats: Women. Hairstyles vary dramatically at different points in the period. Reflecting the two trends in dress, at first hair is styled in a low pompadour. It gradually grows in height and by 1770 is extremely high, in some instances as much as three feet. On top are mounted miniature country houses, gardens, ships, and many other whimsical variations. Around 1780 the pompadour falls and is wide at the sides. Hair is natural in color or only slightly powdered. Among the many hats are the picture hat, which is titled foward, mushroom-shaped hats with wide brims, the tricorne and bicorne, and an occasional turban. The calash, a hood style, is for the large headdresses. It is made of silk which is shirred over a collapsible structure like the hood of a carriage. Mobcaps vary in size in proportion to the hairstyles.
Associated Names:
Lacroix, Paul, 1827-1869 [Artist]
Costume -- Europe -- History -- (LC)
Prints -- France -- 19th century -- (YVRC)
Late Georgian
Accession Number:
costume (mode of fashion) (AAT)
prints: engravings (AAT)
Content Type:
Clothing & Accessories
Prints & Photographs
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Access Restrictions:
Yale Community Only
Source Creator:
Button, Jeanne and Sbarge, Stephen
Source Title:
History of Costume, In Slides, Notes and Commentaries: Volume 4
Source Created:
New York, NY
Theatre Arts Slide Presentations
Call Number:
GT513 +B87 4 (LC)
Orbis Barcode:
Yale Collection:
Visual Resources Collection
Digital Collection:
Visual Resources Collection
Original Repository:
New Haven, CT: Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University