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A timeline history of Shoes and Fashion

The 18th Century:
ROCOCO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM CHAMPAGNE


WHAT’S GOING ON?
The balance of power shifted yet again at the beginning of the 18th century.  Although France retained its crown as king of pop culture / fashion, it lost it's sea power and no longer influenced international affairs. England lost the American colonies. Need I say more?  
rococo swing


<Left: The Swing. 1767. Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Oil on canvas,
Wallace Collection, London








Holland, Sweden and Spain also took a step back in the political arena and under good ol' Louis & Marie Antoinette, everyone had themselves some good times after all the years under control freak Louis XIV and by 1730 Rococo was in full bloom. 

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MEN’S FASHION:
Although men’s styles toned down at the end of the last century, they sparked right up again with a vengeance in the flamboyant and frivolous department.
1700's man


<Left: Portrait of a Gentleman
c. 1730. Vittore Ghislandi. Oil on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan








Men’s coats became fuller and longer. Long vests, left open to reveal piles of ruffles and lace,  were elaborately embroidered and trimmed in gold and bedazzled with jeweled buttons and stuffed with billowy sleeves.  Breeches became fitted and close to the knee.  Topped with a powered wig and carrying a sword, a man was good to go Ďa courting. Or Ďa frolicking. Or Ďa drinking and Ďa gamingÖ

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MEN’S SHOES:
To carry one off to the courting, frolicking, drinking or gaming one wore durable shoes. They were usually black, medium heeled and pointed and prominently displayed a big shiny silver or gold buckle.
man's 1700 shoe


Right: Detail. Portrait of the Villers Family 1790. Jan Bernard Duvivier. Oil on canvas, Groeninge Museum, Bruges>






The exquisites, or dandies as they were so called, also carried lace-trimmed handkerchiefs, muffs, canes and snuff-boxes with beautifully painted tops. Snuff was considered very elegant.

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WOMEN’S FASHION:
In the last few eras men dressed more splendidly and feminine than women, but in this century, women not to be outdone, kicked it up a notch and as a result gowns became more elegant and more overly ornate. 
marie antoinette

 

<Left: Detail. Marie Antoinette. 1779. Oil on canvas, Kunsthistorisches Museum, ViennaWearing a Pannier Gown.

Excessive was the name of the game. Wide dress? Make it wider. Tall hair? Make it taller. Wider, taller, bolder, glitzier. Kick it up a notch and you've got Rococo fashion to the nines. Case in point, the pannier gown. Most likely it started out innocently enough; a typical floor length skirt flouncing around a form-fitting bodice. So why not make it wider on each side to emulate "baskets being carried to market" to go along with that whole idle rich “fantasizing they lived the Sheppard’s life” deal? The sides got larger and larger and larger until gowns became 6 feet wide and needed whale boned cages to keep them upright. Two ladies couldn’t walk side by side without taking up the entire walk.  One would think that having to remove arms off of chairs to allow the ladies to sit would have been a clue to things having gone to far. Apparently not, for despite all the discomfort, inconvenience and complete absurdity of it all, the fashion prevailed.

1700's hair


Right: Portrait of a Lady in Blue
1777-79. Thomas Gainsborough.
Oil on canvas. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg>







Hair styles also spiraled out of control. They got so high and complicated that ladies wore wigs draped over wire cages and loaded up with gobs of feathers, pearls and jewelry.  Some fashion crazed ladies had mini gardens or maritime scenes complete with model ships incorporated in their styles. Mini bird cages complete with live birds on top of their heads were popular. Heavy makeup, perfume and beauty spots reigned.  Late in the century frivolous styles faded away and gowns became long and clinging and the bodice shortened with tight sleeves.  There's nothing like a revolution with few thousand beheadings to put things into perspective.

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WOMEN’S SHOES: 
To go along with overly ornate and over-the-top gowns, the 18th Century woman needed shapely and richly lavished shoes. High heels were a must, along with rich brocades, embroidered silks and painted leathers. Large showy buckles topped them off along with metallic braid in silver and gold which could be transferred from one shoe to the other. 
Women's 1700 shoes



<Left: Detail. Portrait of Marquise de Pompadour. 1756. François Boucher. Oil on canvas, Alte Pinakothek, Munich





After the French Revolution in 1792, shoes styles changed dramatically.   Heels disappeared and expensive silks were replaced with more affordable and practical leathers. 1780 shoe




Right: French 1780 >








For more images of 1700's shoes please visit my Styles Gallery.


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~KBCreations. Copywrite 2006.

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