Western fashion of men in 1775-1795

Fashion in the twenty years between 1775–1795 in Western culture became simpler and less elaborate. These changes were a result of emerging modern ideals of selfhood, the declining fashionability of highly elaborate Rococo styles, and the widespread embrace of the rationalistic or “classical” ideals of Enlightenment philosophes.

In 1774, Louis XVI succeeded his grandfather. He marries Marie Antoinette of Austria. France has many problems, but Marie-Antoinette and the nobility continue to waste money. There is a desire for simplicity and nature that was difficult to reconcile with the complicated costumes and hairstyles. From 1780 a British country style à l’anglaise develops; the clothes become more practical and simpler. The steam machine in spinning mills and weavers brings a large supply of cotton to mainland Europe.

Around 1770 men’s clothing became slimmer and right. One wears tight shorts, vest with buttons, and frac : an open-fitted jacket with collar and lapels and cut-out pawns. At the end of the 18th century, a clear British style emerged. There is more attention to cut and fit. The traditional occupations of the landed nobleman require practical and durable clothing: a wool coat, a vest, and brown trousers that are put in the boots. The hair (or wig) is powdered white and curled over the ears on the sides, and tied from behind in a tail with a black bow or put in a bag.

French Revolution
As the radicals and Jacobins became more powerful, there was a revulsion against high-fashion because of its extravagance and its association with royalty and aristocracy. It was replaced with a sort of “anti-fashion” for men and women that emphasized simplicity and modesty. The men wore plain, dark clothing and short unpowdered hair. During the Terror of 1794, the workaday outfits of the sans-culottes symbolized Jacobin egalitarianism.

High fashion and extravagance returned to France and its satellite states under the Directory, 1795–99, with its “directoire” styles; the men did not return to extravagant customs. These trends would reach their height in the classically-styled fashions of the late 1790s and early 19th century. For men, coats, waistcoats and stockings of previous decades continued to be fashionable across the Western world, although they too changed silhouette in this period, becoming slimmer and using earthier colors and more matte fabrics.

Men’s fashion

Throughout the period, men continued to wear the coat, waistcoat and breeches. However, changes were seen in both the fabric used as well as the cut of these garments. More attention was paid to individual pieces of the suit, and each element underwent stylistic changes. Under new enthusiasms for outdoor sports and country pursuits, the elaborately embroidered silks and velvets characteristic of “full dress” or formal attire earlier in the century gradually gave way to carefully tailored woolen “undress” garments for all occasions except the most formal.

In Boston and Philadelphia in the decades around the American Revolution, the adoption of plain undress styles was a conscious reaction to the excesses of European court dress; Benjamin Franklin caused a sensation by appearing at the French court in his own hair (rather than a wig) and the plain costume of Quaker Philadelphia.

At the other extreme was the “macaroni”.

In the United States, only the first five Presidents, from George Washington to James Monroe, dressed according to this fashion, including wearing of powdered wigs, tricorne hats and knee-breeches. The latest-born notable person to be portrayed wearing a powdered wig tied in a queue according to this fashion was Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia (born in 1779, portrayed in 1795).

By the 1770s, coats exhibited a tighter, narrower cut than seen in earlier periods, and were occasionally double-breasted. Toward the 1780s, the skirts of the coat began to be cutaway in a curve from the front waist. Waistcoats gradually shortened until they were waist-length and cut straight across. Waistcoats could be made with or without sleeves. As in the previous period, a loose, T-shaped silk, cotton or linen gown called a banyan was worn at home as a sort of dressing gown over the shirt, waistcoat, and breeches. Men of an intellectual or philosophical bent were painted wearing banyans, with their own hair or a soft cap rather than a wig. This aesthetic overlapped slightly with the female fashion of the skirt and proves the way in which male and female fashions reflected one another as styles became less rigid and more suitable for movement and leisure.

A coat with a wide collar called a frock coat, derived from a traditional working-class coat, was worn for hunting and other country pursuits in both Britain and America. Although originally designed as sporting wear, frock coats gradually came into fashion as everyday wear. The frock coat was cut with a turned down collar, reduced side pleats, and small, round cuffs, sometimes cut with a slit to allow for added movement. Sober, natural colors were worn, and coats were made from woolen cloth, or a wool and silk mix.

Shirt and stock
Shirt sleeves were full, gathered at the wrist and dropped shoulder. Full-dress shirts had ruffles of fine fabric or lace, while undress shirts ended in plain wrist bands. A small turnover collar returned to fashion, worn with the stock. In England, clean, white linen shirts were considered important in Men’s attire. The cravat reappeared at the end of the period.

Breeches, shoes, and stockings
As coats became cutaway, more attention was paid to the cut and fit of the breeches. Breeches fitted snugly and had a fall-front opening.

Low-heeled leather shoes fastened with shoe buckles were worn with silk or woolen stockings. Boots were worn for riding. The buckles were either polished metal, usually in silver (sometimes with the metal cut into false stones in the Paris style) or with paste stones, although there were other types. These buckles were often quite large and one of the world’s largest collections can be seen at Kenwood House; with the French Revolution they were abandoned in France as a signifier of aristocracy.

Hairstyles and headgear
Wigs were worn for formal occasions, or the hair was worn long and powdered, brushed back from the forehead and clubbed (tied back at the nape of the neck) with a black ribbon.

The wide-brimmed tricorne hats turned up on three sides were now turned up front and back or on the sides to form bicornes. Toward the end of the period, a tall, slightly conical hat with a narrower brim became fashionable (this would evolve into the top hat in the next period).

Style gallery 1775–1795

1 – 1776

2 – 1775–80

3 – c. 1785

4 – c. 1785

5 – 1780s

6 – 1788

7 – c. 1791

8 – 1790–95

9 – 1795

10 – 1790s

11 – 1793

1.Paul Revere’s shirt has full sleeves with gathers at shoulder and cuff, plain wristbands, and a small turnover collar.
2.Naturalists Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg Forster wear collared frock coats and open shirt collars for sketching. The portrait depicts them in Tahiti, 1775–80.
3.Another portrait of Georg Forster depicts him in a collarless dress coat and matching waistcoat with covered buttons, c. 1785. His shirt has a pleated frill at the front opening and his hair is powdered, c. 1785.
4.Yellow wool suit with silk velvet trim shows the influence of English tailoring on European fashion. Spain, c. 1785, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, M.2007.211.801a-c.
5.1780s suit of matching coat, waistcoat and breeches. The waistcoat is hip length, 1780s.
6.Francisco Cabarrús holds the popular tricorne and wears a yellow-mustard suit of matching coat, waistcoat and breeches; the waistcoat is hip length, 1788.
7.Baron de Besenval wears a short patterned red waistcoat with his grey coat and black satin breeches. His coat has a dark contrasting collar, and his linen shirt has plain fabric ruffles, Paris, 1791.
8.French fashions of 1790–95 include a tailcoat of silk and cotton plain weave with silk satin stripes, shown over two layered figured silk vests. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
9.The Duke of Alba, 1795, a portrait by Francisco de Goya, who depicts this nobleman wearing plain colors in the newly fashionable English style, although the duke still powders his hair. He is wearing long riding boots that reach the breeches.
10.Relatively plain men’s suits from 1790s France. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, excessively ornamental styles were abandoned in favour of simple designs.
11.French Revolutionary style, 1793: Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud, deputy of the Convention, in his uniform of representative of the People to the Armies, by Jean-François Garneray or another follower of Jacques-Louis David.

Source from Wikipedia