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How the French Revolution completely changed the European Fashion

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

It might be hard to believe, but politics were not the only thing that were revolutionized in the French Revolution.  

“Simplicity could be synonymous with luxury”, wrote the American art historian, Anne Higonnet, in her book, Liberty Equality Fashion. That phrase captures how women’s fashion would never be the same again. 

Before the Revolution

Mary Antoinette is known for her rococo style, exuberant wigs and dresses were her daily basis. And that was the vibe at the time. 

Rococo was born in Paris at the beginning of the middle 18th century. It is visually known for its meticulous details and arrangements in the form of an “S” or “C”.  This style’s main colors are light tones such as pastel ones. 

Besides the main characteristics, Rococo’s paintings always demonstrate a joyful and peaceful life. Nature, angels and delight can be found in all of them. 

Its purpose is to show off their luxury. “We really have nothing else to do but to seek pleasant sensations and feelings”, Anne described herself perfectly in an article from Westchester Community College.

The fall of the Aristocracy 

Found in depts, hunger and poverty, every French who was not delighted around angelical paintings was suffering. Thus, the Third Estate realized that they had to do something to take those people out of heaven. 

Once the French Revolution hit, it hit hard. Since it was a fight coming from the Third Estate, it was the bourgeoisie‘s time to lead everything, including fashion. They wanted to set as far as possible from the extra style of the absolutism era, so short-sleeved dresses showing the bust and light colors were their to-go. 

Other than that, women’s voices began to be heard and that had a huge impact on fashion too, they wanted more liberty to walk around without all of the adornments that were required for rich women to wear. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, am I right?

 At the time Mary did not even need to say anything, her hair spoke for her. But it became something that was ripped off after the revolution. For a better and faster death, people had to cut their hair short. Thus, a few years later, this cut became trendy and was named coiffure à la victim (victim’s hairstyle) by the revolutionaries and coiffure à la Titus (Titus’ hairstyle) by the aristocracy. 

After the Revolution 

According to an article written by Jessica Larson from the University of Michigan, Journal de Paris alleged that this hairstyle or its wig were used by more than half of the moneyed women in 1802 and a British women’s fashion magazine, La Belle Assemblée, addressed in 1807 that in the middle of a competition for originality, women were cutting their hair in the Titus style. 
The French Revolution created a new sense of life and world, so fashion would not be any different. The ancient style made a comeback in that time, besides the cut inspired by a Roman Imperator, Titus, long dresses, light colors and high waist resembled a Greek column. This comeback is due to the fact that after freeing themselves from dark times, French intellectuals were looking for bright acknowledgment, and who else to study than Greek philosophers?


The article above was edited by Giulia Giampietro.

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Isa Mucilo

Casper Libero '26

Studying journalism at Cásper Líbero College, I am amused by the culture world- such as movies, books, tv shows and theatre. I aim to inspire girls to develop the same passion I feel for those things by my articles and words.