Subject: aristocrate aristocrat, nobleman
Setting: French Enlightenment, late Bourbon dynasty, France 18thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Ruppert 1931 p37-38
"Comme à la fin du règne de Louis XIV et comme sous la Régence, le costume masculin se compose de trois pièces traditionelles: justacorps, veste et culotte. Toutefouis les justacorps prennent le nom d'habit à la française qu'il gardera jusqu'à la fin du XVIIIe siècle; il conserve aux manches les mêmes hauts parements de la Régence, le même groupement de plis aux hanches; cependant, au-dessus des plis latéraux, on ajoute généralment des boutons.
"L'extrémité de la culotte, jusqu'en 1745, est souvent cachée sous le bas et à partir de 1745 elle descend au-dessous des genoux et s'attache par des pattes à boucles. Les chaussures ne présentent pas de grands différences avec celles de la fin du règne de Louis XIV; la pièce du cou-de-pied est toujours assex haute et à paratir de 1730, les talons rouges, réservés à la noblesse, sont plus bas.
"Le jabot de dentelle a tendance à disparaItre pour être remplacé par une cravate souvent noire formant nœud par devant.
"Il y a peu de vêtements nouveaux; toutefois la redingote apparait. Importée d'Angleterre vers 1725 où elle s'appelait riding-coat (vêtement pour monter à cheval) elle est longue, munie d'une ceinture et à deux petits collets dont un pouvait se relever. Dans la deuxième période du règne de Louis XV, l'habit à la française perd un tiers de son étoffe; il est plus court de pasque, échancré sur le devant et souvent les boutons ne sont plus que des ornements. Les boutons des hanches passent derrière ainsi que les plis Les manches sont plus longues et moins amples. Le cou est serré par un tour-de-col, cravate de mousseline montée sur deux pattes qui se bouclaient par derrière. Mentionnous le frac, sorte d'habit sans poches ni boutons et avec un petit collet rabattu (rotonde); on ne porte pas l'épée avec le frac.
"La veste est un gilet à manches boutonné seulement à partir du creux de l'estomac laissant une ouverture pour la cravate. Elle descend d'abord assez bas pour s'arrêter au-dessous de la taille à la fin du règne de Louis XV."
* Fashion 2018 p41 (Tamami Suoh, "The shift from rococo to revolution -- fashion in the 18th century" p14-127)
"Although extravagant men's wardrobes were prominent in the seventeenth century, those of the eighteenth century became more subtle and refined. The seventeenth-century men's jacket, the justacorps, was replaced in the second half of the eighteenth century by the habit (coat), which was worn with a waistcoat and knee-breeches."
* Laver 2020 p128-134
"For three-quarters of the eighteenth century there was no essential change in the male mode established in the middle years of the reign of Louis XIV. Male dress consisted of coat, waistcoat and breeches. The coat was close-fitting to the waist and then flared out in skirts of varying length. It had three vents, one at the back and one at each side, the last two being pleated. The coat was either collarless or was provided with a narrow, upright band. There was a row of buttons down the front of the coat, but most of these were left unfastened. The sleeves were of great importance, and it is often possible to date clothes by the gradual diminution in the size of the cuffs as the century progressed. At first they were extremely large, being turned back and buttoned either just below or just above the elbow. Beneath the cuff showed the ruffle of the shirt, the lace used matching the lace of the shirt front.
"Beneath the coat was the waistcoat, of different material and sometimes heavily embroidered. After the middle of the century the embroidery spread to the coat itself. In the early years of the century the waistcoat was almost as long as the coat and, like it, was furnished with buttons all the way down. The lower buttons were never fastened. It was close-fitting to the waist and then flared out in skirts with unpleated vents, often stiffened with buckram. The back of the waistcoat was made of less expensive material.
"Knee breeches were universally worn throughout the century. They were fairly loose and fitted over the hips without the need of either belt or braces. They were closed below the knee with three or four buttons, and at first the stockings were drawn over them. From about 1735, however, the breeches, closed with an ornamental buckle, were worn over the stockings.
"Neckwear continued, without much variation, the tradition of the late seventeenth century, that is the cravat or the steinkirk ...; but from about 1740 younger men began to wear a stock, consisting of a piece of linen or cambric sometimes stiffened with pasteboard and buckled behind. Sometimes there was worn with it a black tie known as a 'solitaire'. This was usually worn with the bag wig.
"The three-cornered hat was almost universal throughout the century, although country people and scholars sometimes wore their hats uncocked. The usual practice was to turn up the brim and attach it to the low crown in such a was as to form a triangle. The brim was usually edged with graid, and a button or a jewel was sometimes fixed to the left cock. The appearance of the hat was naturally conditioned by the width of the brim. The so-called 'Kevenhuller hat' hada wide brim, and was fashionable in 1740s. The same is true of the Dettingen hat (called after the Battle of Dettingen in 1743). It aimed at an effect of military swagger. The usual colour of hats was black, although Beau Nash, 'King of Bath', made himself deliberately conspicuous by wearing a white hat. The material was beaver, a cheaper variety being made of rabbit fur.
"By the 1760s we can begin to discern the tentative beginnings of a new style. In essence the change consisted of a decreasing emphasis on the French 'court' style and an increasing adoption of English 'country' clothes. There was, in short, a trend toward practicality and simplicity. Coats were plain, had narrower cuffs and the skirts were sometimes cut away in front for ease on horseback. Even the universal three-cornered hat began to be replaced, at least for such pursuits as hunting, by a narrow-brimmed, high-crowned hat which served as a kind of primitive crash-helmet, and in which we can already see the outline of the top hat of the nineteenth century.
"However, the 'macaronis' of the 1770s were a reaction against these developments. They wore very thin shoes with enormous buckles made of gold, silver, pinchbeck or steel and set with real or imitation stones. They affected very large buttons on their coats. Their hats were extremely small, but their wigs were dressed high on the head, prodigiously curled."
* Fashion 2018 p56 (Tamami Suoh, "The shift from rococo to revolution -- fashion in the 18th century" p14-127)
"The typical eighteenth-century French suit, the habit à la française, consisted of a coat, a waistcoat, and breeches. It also included a pair of silk stockings, a jabot, a linen or cotton shirt with decorative cuffs, and a cravat. Men's suits transformed to a more functional style in the last half of the eighteenth century. Overall the coat became tight-fitting, the length of the waistcoat became short, the waistcoat's sleeves were removed, and the hem was cut horizontally. Yet the brilliant colors, exquisite embroideries, elaborate lace for jabots and cuffs, and decorative buttons still remained important elements for dressing a gentleman in the rococo style."
* Higgins Armory Museum > Story of the Sword
The civilian sword became an item of gentlemanly jewelry
The smallsword evolved from the rapier in the late 1600s. French swordmasters designed it to deliver lightning-quick stabbing attacks, rarely cutting with the edge. Some smallswords had no edge at all.
"As dueling and streetfighting declined, the smallsword became a male fashion accessory. Swordmakers and jewelers collaborated to produce weapons of exquisitely carved steel, silver, and gold, sometimes adding porcelain or precious stones. Hilts could be traded in and out to allow for changing fashions or special occasions.
"Eventually the smallsword itself became a victim of changing fashions. By 1800, swords went out of style as a civilian accessory, although a training version of the smallsword survives to the present day as the 'foil' used by sport fencers."
* Fryer 1969 p67
"Small-sword The successor of the rapier worn in the late seventeenth and through the eighteenth centuries. It was both a civilian and military weapon. The hilt usually had a double shell guard, short quillons, knuckle-bow and spherical pommel. Many hilts were elaborate and were finely pierced or chiselled in silver, gilt metal or steel. The blade was frequently of slender triangular section and often of colichemarde type."