Male Fashion of the 18th Century

Part Seven

Friedrich August von Sachsen by Louis Gauffier, 1793

Towards the end of the century, the changes in fashion were picking up speed and becoming pretty radical- or so it seems. In fact, all those changes simply took developments of the previous decades to an exaggerated point. The standing collar, the trend towards short gilets, cut away coat front showing the belly, long and tight sleeves, lower heels... all those traits have been there before, but now they have reached maximum.

Wigs have gone out of fashion since the French Revolution which condemned them as a symbol of the Ancien Régime of the nobility. Hair was to be short and slightly tousled. As we see here, it was not long before the nobility, even outside France, picked up the trend. Bicorn and top hats, the latter recently intruduced from America, often replaced the tricorn. As the top hat had been a symbol of independency in America, in Europe became a symbol of bourgeois pride.

The high collar and voluminous cravat completely hide the neck, as if the wearer had caught a severe cold. Coats were often double-breasted, the front angling away to the side just below the breast, already very much like the modern tailcoat. The shoes are most striking, being completely heel-less and cut low, almost like ballet shoes.