The Directoire or Directory style took its name from the period 1795–1799 when France was ruled by a government of Directors – the Directory And the Empire style took its name from 1800-1815 when the first empire was overseen by Napoleon Bonaparte.
During 1795–1815, European and European-influenced countries upgraded themselves with informal styles instead of using the brocades, lace, periwigs, etc. This informal style was continued to the early 18th century. After the French Revolution, people started to use garments that showed individual expression as a pure indication of social status.
Clothing for Men
During this period, men started to wear cut and tailoring vests and coats which were made of rich or vivid fabrics. Dark colors were all but mandatory. Blue tailcoats with gold buttons and white muslin shirts became extremely popular. They also started using pants or loose floppy trousers as outerwear and at home. Fabrics, normally, were becoming more practical silk and more wool, cotton, and buckskin.
Coats were cutaway in front with long skirts or tails behind and had tall standing collars. Lapels became smaller than before and started featuring as an M-shaped notch during this time.
Shirts were made from linen, had attached collars, and were worn with stocks or wrapped during a cravat tied in various fashions. Pleated frills at the cuffs and front opening went out of fashion by the top of the amount.
Waistcoats were high-waisted and squared off at the bottom. These were often double-breasted with wide lapels and stand collars. In the early Empire period, large lapels that overlapped those of the jacket began to fall out of fashion, as did the Directories tradition of wearing the coat unbuttoned, and gradually waistcoats became less visible. Previously, waistcoats were generally designed with vertical striped. By 1810, both horizontally striped and plain white waistcoats became trendy. High-collared waistcoats were fashionable.
Overcoats or greatcoats were fashionable, often with contrasting collars of fur or velvet. There was another overcoat became a particularly popular style named “Garrick”, also called coachman’s coat sometimes, had between three and five short caplets attached to the collar.
The men started to use pants/Pantalones in this period. The Breeches became extended and tightly fitted leather riding. This reached to the boot tops and was replaced by pantaloons or trousers for trendy fashionable streetwear. The French Revolution is largely responsible for altering the standard male dress.
Clothing for Women
The usual fashion at the beginning of the Directorie and Empire period was a low-necked Gown and basic high-waisted empire Silhouette. Dresses became narrow in the front but raised back waist allowed room to walk. White color was more popular than others. Ornamentations were becoming more visible in their dresses for decoration.
Chemise and Bodice: They used Chemise, or shift, a thin garment with tight, short sleeves which were made of white cotton and finished with a plain hem that was shorter and low neckline than the dress. A fitted “Bodice or Corset” held the front of the dress close to the figure.
Petticoats, Drawers, and Stockings: In this period they also wore petticoats. Most gowns skirts were designed with openings in the front for showing the petticoat that worn beneath. The petticoats were decorated at the hem with rows of tucks or lace, or ruffles.
“Drawers” were the underpants with short legs which were worn by men firstly. But in this period a few numbers of women also started wearing it. They were tied separately around the waist.
Stockings, made of silk or knitted cotton, were held up by garters below the knee until suspenders were introduced in the late 19th century and were often of white or pale flesh color.
Clothing for Children
During the Directoire and Empire period between 1790 – 1815, women, girls and little boys all dressed similarly in high, empire-waisted gowns of light silks and cotton. Infants’ long dresses were layered overtop undershirts and sometimes petticoats.
Most women powder their face and neck with white or light loose face powder. Applied soft pink rouge, used darken eyelashes and oil eyelid, groom, and darkened eyebrow, pink-red lip stain or gloss.
Accessories of Directorie and Empire period
During this period, younger men began to keep their hair short and curly, often with long sideburns. The New styles, Brutus and the Bedford Crop became trendy and fashionable.
Older men, military officers, and some conservative professions such as lawyers, judges, physicians, and servants used their wigs and powder. Formal court dress also still required powdered hair.
Tricorne and bicorne hats began to fade with time, but the tall and slightly conical hat was most fashionable.
Long hair styled in an updo was the way most women, especially upper-class women, wore their hair during this period. Neatness and cleanliness were important. Married women continued wearing the mob caps made of linen, which became wider at the sides for covering the ears.
The women started to use hand gloves and handbags during this time. The handbags or purses were called Reticules which were rectangular shapes made of fabrics. They also used Parasols for protecting their skin from the sun. Parasols were slender and light in weight and came in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
Both upper-class men and women used fans, made of paper or silk on sticks of ivory and wood, printed with oriental motifs or popular scenes of the era.
Before the 19th-century shoes were made with equal measurements for both right and left feet. During the Directorie and Empire period, the invention of the left and right shoe was created to enhance comfort in people’s feet and get rid of many everyday foot problems. Clogs, pattens, and the French sabot had been worn since the Middle Ages by workers and peasants. The high wood soled shoes lifted the foot above cold roads, as well as mud, puddles, and dampness.
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