Click on this banner and you will be taken to a fascinating blog about the year 1735.
French silk shoes from the 1735 blog
High Fashion of Eighteenth Century Paris
1778 French court dress with wide panniers and artificially enhanced "big hair".
The Dress of the Working Class and Poor in Eighteenth Century Paris
I am happy that I found a site which offers not only the colorful and complicated dress of the upper classes of eighteenth century France, but also that of the working class. Notice what is said in the following description concerning the use of second hand clothing. The author writes what I have seen in many sources, that many of the working-class women and men of Paris were nicely dressed because they could buy the cast-off dress of the nobility and the upper bourgeoisie at a very small fraction of its original cost. The source of the following quote is listed at the bottom of the quote.
"The lower-classes, both in town and country, notwithstanding the daily changes of fashion which they saw going on around them, had not changed, in regard to dress, for the last century or two. They were poorly clad, in winter as in summer, but poorly provided with linen, and often going about with naked feet, but never without a covering to the head. Their garments often consisted of pieces of cloth of different colours sewn together, forming a coat which sometimes fell below the knee. They did not seem to feel this penury of raiment at all keenly, for the Marquis de Paulmy, in his "Précis de la Vie privée des Français" (1779), says: "Stout leather shoes are looked upon as a luxury by the poorer classes, who think themselves fortunate when they have shoes with thick soles. In some parts of the country, the peasants wear nothing but sandals, clogs, or pieces of rope wound round the feet, and in others men and women alike wear the sabot" (wooden shoe). Such contrasts, such striking anomalies between the dress of the lower orders and the middle-classes, were not to be seen in Paris and the large cities, where the poor dressed in the left-off clothes of the rich. The result, of course, was that the same clothes were worn in course of time, first when they were new and afterwards as they were old, by the two extremities of the social body. This was one of the most remarkable peculiarities in Parisian life "Everybody is well clad there, and seems as if he could afford to change his linen and coat twice a day." Most Of the artizans dressed in imitation of their betters when they were not at work, and it was no uncommon thing to meet in the streets a lot of dandies, fashionably dressed and girt with a sword, who turned out to be barbers, printers, tailors, or shopmen. The females of the lower classes were always neatly dressed, sometimes with remarkably good taste, and the Paris grisette was renowned throughout the whole of the 18th century for her neatness of attire. Gorgy, in his 'Nouveau Voyage Sentimental' (1785), says: 'The girls employed in shops of various kinds aspire to be classed above the lower ranks of the people; their dress is plain and yet comely, and amongst them may be studied that sort of coquetry which Rousseau declares to be inherent in the female nature. It does not consist of a lot of gew-gaws which are but advertisements of the wealth of their wearers and the skill of their makers. These women wear only inexpensive dresses, with a little gauze and a few bits of ribbon, but they make the most of them, and produce considerable effect out of very little. Their coiffure is very simple, but it suits them so well that it seems perfect.' This corresponded very closely wi th J.-J. Rousseau's opinions, for, in 'Emile,' he writes : 'Give a young girl who has good taste and sets little store on the fashion of the hour, some ribbon, gauze, muslin, and flowers, and she will make, without the aid of diamonds, lace and trinkets, a head-dress which will suit her a hundred times better than all the jewellery of Duchapt could do.' But a young girl who was capable of doing this would not have run counter to fashion."
The source of the above material can be found at the following site (though the site has a title "americanrevolution.org," notice that the file is "french fashion.")
Musée de la Mode et du Textile (click here to go to the Museum's website in English) The collections of this museume now contain some 16,000 costumes, 35,000 fashion accessories, 30,000 pieces of textile. A total of over 81,000 works which trace the history of costume from the Regency period to the present-day and innovations in textiles since the 7th century. These collections are regularly enriched by generous gifts made by private donors, designers or manufacturers. They rival with the largest collections in the world, the Musée Galliera, Paris, the Musée des Tissus, Lyon, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Musée Nissim de Camondo(click here to go to the museum's website in English) Moïse de Camondo, a Parisian banker during the Belle Epoque, was a passionate collector of French furniture and art objects from the eighteenth century who amassed a collection of unusual quality. In 1911, he hired architect René Sergent to build a private mansion next to Parc Monceau that would be worthy of this collection and suitable for his family. The mansion, modeled after the Petit Trianon in Versailles is fully preserved in its original condition and offers an opportunity to discover the taste of a great collector and to get a glimpse of the everyday life of an aristocratic home.
Musée des Arts décoratifs(click here to go to the museum's website in English) Boasting some 150,000 objects, the collections testify to the savoir-faire of French craftsmen and industrialists, the creativity of its artists, the passion of its collectors and the generosity of our donors. There is not a single technique, material or type of object that cannot be found in the Arts Décoratifs inventories: tiepin, escritoire, doll’s house, scenic wallpaper, stained glass, wood, enamel, plastic, shark’s skin and amaranth…the list is endless. Many criteria governed the selection of some 6,000 objects for display, including their exemplarity, use, economy, craftsmanship, and symbolism.