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Rococo – It’s Not Just An Art Style, It’s A Way Of Life.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

I’ve always been drawn to the opulent style. The Maximalist. Frills. Bows. Exaggerated. Whimsical. 

Art has always been the be all and end all for me. If I weren’t a pilot, I might have been an art historian! Last year, I took a course on art history at George Mason where we were taught about the various periods of art from the Renaissance to Baroque to Impressionism. Each era had certain defining characteristics whether it be different brushstrokes, the usage of light, or elements of realism. It was most definitely one of the best classes I’ve ever taken! One, because I got to learn a lot more on the history and progression of art styles. And two, because I was introduced to my favorite art style of all time – Rococo

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Art History

Rococo is an art style that originated in 18th century Paris. It’s characterized by detailed magnificence! Think Marie Antoinette, towering powdered wigs, pastel colors, lightness, and curves. It’s ornamental, mirrors, opulence, curves, and counter-curves. It’s themes of courtship and mythology, flicks of delicate brush strokes with undertones of sensuality. 


What has been my favorite painting for now a decade, The Swing by Jean Honoré Fragonard, is arguably one of the most famous paintings of the Rococo art period. What I love about The Swing is the utter playfulness displayed in the artwork (Artsy). We see a woman, clad in an airy, pastel pink dress, sitting on a swing that’s suspended from some tree branches. There’s a man at her feet, courting her with admiration in his eyes. In the backdrop, there’s another man handling the reins of swing, also infatuated with the woman. Our it-girl is having a wonderful time, basking in all the attention and kicking her dainty pink kitten heel off in the distance. The scene is taking place in a lush garden, littered with mature trees and wildflowers, and a filtering canopy of sunlight illuminating her. In the corner, we see a statue of cupid with a mischievous look on his face, suggesting a possible love triangle?

I look at this masterpiece, and I feel the lively and spirited impression Fragonard wanted to display. The pastel color palette of pinks, greens, blues, and creams brings a sense of romance to the painting. We are immersed in this scene of love and seduction, portraying the carefree attitude of the woman and the persistence of the love-struck men, quite literally at her feet. It’s this liveliness of Rococo that can have you stare at a painting for hours, noticing new elements with each movement of the eye. 


Rococo is not just limited to paintings. It can be seen in furniture, décor, and fashion. Take the Salon de la Princesse at the Hotel de Soubise in Paris (Parisian Moments). The room is curved, warm, and intimate. It’s embellished with intricate wood carvings, mirrors to reflect light from the candles, cherubs, and painted pastel ceilings. Don’t you wish your room looked like that?! 

While we may not be able to live in exquisite palaces and salons like the Princesses of the time, there are a few ways you can spruce up your living space and align with Rococo décor:

  • Invest in detailed, ornamental furniture with S-shaped curved legs. Even a single statement piece can transform the space!
  • Choose wallpapers featuring patterns of flowers, leaves, birds, and animals.
  • Design your space with white or pastel colors. 
  • Look for pieces with stylized acanthus leaves and flowers; a trademark of Rococo (Louise Booyens Interiors)


In fashion, Rococo is lace, ruffles, ribbons, ruching, silk, and flowers. It’s frivolous, in your face, and exceptionally aesthetic. 

A way you can add some Rococo in your modern life is by adopting the Coquette aesthetic. 

The Coquette trend seems to be inspired by the Rococo fashion era with bows, lace, pearls, and pastel galore. It’s fun, it’s flirty, it’s playful, and it’s carefree. A few ways to tailor your wardrobe to include elements of the Rococo art style can be:

  • Dress up what you already have by using floral prints and patterns and accessorizing with maximalist accessories like a statement pearl necklace or lace garters. 
  • Make use of candy and pastel colors with bold contrast. Or go a totally different route and mix neutrals like cream and beige with a showstopping gold. 
  • Opt for a curvy silhouette with elements of pouf, frills, and tulle. For example, puffy sleeve blouses and twirl-worthy skirts and petticoats.
  • Invest in dainty kitten heels and a pair of lace gloves to add that extra flair (Story Behind the Cloth)!

Rococo makes me want to live like an 18th century French aristocrat. Oh, to be that carefree and flighty, surrounded by soft colors, romance, and magnificence… Now, of course, that is an impossibility! But if Rococo is not your style, no worries – There’s an art period for everyone. You just have to find yours and make it magnifique!

Sameera Duggal

George Mason University '24

Sameera Duggal is a senior at George Mason and a Business major with a concentration in Management. Her primary career is in aviation and she works as a full time flight instructor. Her dream is to become an airline pilot and travel the world. She loves writing, art, hanging out with family and friends, her awesome pup Scooby, and flying.