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Morning Dress

(Before 8:00am SLT - Though can be worn at any time in the comfort of one's apartment) Suit:

  • A simple frock-coat or English-style redingote, waistcoat without embroidery.
  • In one's apartment, a dressing gown may be worn.

Accessories:

  • Tricorn (worn on the head)
  • Gloves (Optional - Autumn, Winter)
  • Boots (Optional depending on weather/locale)
  • Wig or own hair, powdered or unpowdered

This attire should also be adopted for sporting activities.

In one's apartment, a cotton night-cap, smoking hat or turban can be worn.


Afternoon Dress

(8:00am SLT - 12:00pm SLT) Suit:

  • Justaucorps, waistcoat and breeches, in fine cloth with modest embroidery.

Accessories:

  • Hat (Optional - to be removed when indoors)
  • Wig, preferably powdered white/off white


Evening Dress/State Dress

(12:00pm SLT onwards and formal occasions)

Suit:

  • Justaucorps, waistcoat and breeches with appropriate decoration according to ceremony

Accesories:

  • Hat (if worn, this must be carried in the hand/under the arm)
  • Gloves in White
  • Wig, powdered white/off white

General Dress

The three piece suit was born in the mid-seventeenth century: by our period (1772) it consisted of a coat or justaucorps (Just-on-the-body, as it was worn wide open) over a waistcoat, with fitted breeches that reached below the knee. Masculine dress revolved around these styles, with variations of fabric and embroidery marking the formality of occasion. Generally, the different parts of the suit would be made in different fabric - if they all matched, it was referred to as 'A suit of dittoes'. For less formal occasions, in place of the justaucorps a more casual English-style fraque or frock-coat could be worn. Indeed, from the mid-eighteenth century a vogue for English-style dress - known as Anglomania - pervaded the French court. This also chimed with Rousseau's idealised pastoralism, and costume in general shifted towards simplicity. Thus, a simple wool frock coat was the height of racy modernity - and slightly shocking at that.

Masculine Physique

It is difficult to comprehend, but a six-foot something Adonis with a barrel chest was not the perfect body for the 18th century courtier. The ideal body shape for men had sloped shoulders, short but well-shaped legs and even a slight belly. The cut of male garments - narrow at the shoulder, wider at the waist and hip - accentuated this pear shape, while the fine silken fabrics were intended to pucker and wrinkle to emphasise it even more. Rather than our modern six-pack, the ideal body part at Versailles was a perfectly-muscled calf, shown off to perfection while dancing and sheathed in fine silk stockings. Many men even wore padded prosthetic calves to improve their silhouette!

Hair

Gentlemen wore wigs on all formal occasions. In one's own apartment natural hair may be worn but would usually have been covered with a wig, a casual hat or a turban. Sometimes light wigs were worn combined with one's own hair and powdered. The hair was almost always drawn away from the face and back into a pigtail, but could be dressed in a variety of different styles. For all formal occasions the wig would be powdered to a distinctive white/off-white.

The full-bottomed wig of the 17th century had fallen out of fashion and was only worn, sometimes, for mourning, or by some magistrates and members of the clergy.

Sword

It was not merely custom but a fundamental requirement of etiquette for men to wear a dress sword or épée de cour at their hip for admittance to Versailles - in the 18th century, a guardsman would rent one to any visitor who came without. More than a weapon, the sword was a symbol of gentility. It also held out the pleats of the justaucorps. However, with the exception of the Swiss guards, military uniforms were not permitted at the court of Versailles.

Hats

Hats were generally carried under the arm rather than on the head, as they displaced hair powder. Special flattened hats were specifically devised for this - titled Chapeaux-bras (literally, 'Arm Hats'). The prevalent style of hat for men was the tricorn, with variations in trimming and styling of the three sides. Often these were trim Powdered med with gold braid, or a narrow feather edging (plummet).

For further reference please see:

  • A History of Costume in the West, François Boucher
  • Madame de Pompadour, Nancy Mitford
  • Sex and Suits, Ann Hollander

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