Tailor Made – 19th Century French Military Uniform:

19th Century French Military Uniform:

When designing the French military uniform in 19th century, cost wasn’t the first thought that came into their minds and this caused serious trouble with Napoleon. Lannes overspent the guards budget and Napoleon was forced to replace him with Bessieres. Due to Lannes overspending the budge, Bessieres decided to design and construct three types of military uniforms; One uniform for a parade, another for a service and one uniform for off duty.

Outfits and their Costs:

  • Infantryman’s Outfit: 200 to 250 Francs,
  • Line Grenadies’s Uniform: 300 Francs,
  • Cavalryman’s Uniform: 500 Francs,
  • Guard Chasseur-a-cheval’s: 950 Francs,
  • Cuirassier’s Uniform: 2,000 Francs.

It was very common for the uniforms to be constructed of wool, silk, hemp, canvas and linen. Fabrics like wool and canvas are strong fabrics which would make the uniform longer lasting. They definitely needing this because they didn’t have the money to buy more fabrics. As for the textiles that was embellished onto the jackets, cuffs, collars, outerwear and trousers was made from linen and hemp cloth. The colour palette for the French military uniforms consisted of a range of natural shades and bold colours that were from light to dark. For example; Black, Navy, Dark Blue, Royal Blue, Rich Red’s with Gold embellishments. French military outfits consisted of multiple layers, for example; waistcoats, cropped coats and jackets, outerwear, cloaks, greatcoats, trousers, and tailcoats. Throughout the stage of design development, I will take inspiration from the traditional French military uniform as it is commonly seen in the movie, The Phantom of the Opera; Masquerade Ball scene. I will take my influence from the multiple layers and experiment with the lengths, key features, scale and proportions to create a bold, powerful and structured tailored outfit.

{Picture Below: Traditional 19th Century French Military Uniforms that I will take inspiration from when designing my own tailor made outfit.}

Uniforms of french army : Foreign Troops in French Service, 18-19th century, engraving by Charles Vernier (1831-1887)


New Project, Tailor Made – Historical Research:

Menswear In the 17th Century:

There were many trends that continued throughout the early 17th century to the later years. These trends were; Men’s coats, waistcoats and jackets that were worn tightly. Breeched were still a common item of clothing that was worn with their socks fully exposed. However, through the mid-seventeenth century, men’s clothing softened and became more comfortable. This was when breeches lost their bagginess and became slimmer so that it would be easier for men to move in. People continued to value the different types of fabrics as fabrics like silk were still presented as wealth.

The French Influence:

The French had a huge influence on clothing in the 17th Century. A French king called Louis XIV ruled France from 1943-1715 and wanted to make France the leading fashion influence. He wanted people to be inspired by the architecture, furniture, food and fashion in France. Louis surrounded himself with the wealthy people who owned elegant clothing to continue his wider love and inspiration for fashion. During the 17th Century France also became the leading producer of luxury goods and this was when the French cities began to start producing their own fabrics like silk, lace and brocade to sell onto other countries.

1760 – 1770’s Men’s Clothing:

During 1760 – 1770 men’s clothing started heading towards a sleeker look and became more fitted to their body. Throughout these years it was very common for men to own three-piece suits which consisted of a waistcoat, pants and jacket/coat. Cape were also a common trend in the late 17th Century as they were constructed in royal colours like blue, green and red to represent wealth and power. Heavy embellishments also continued throughout the late 17th Century but stopped at the start of the 18th Century.

{Pictures Below, From Left to Right; Men’s nightgown from The Victoria & Albert Museum. Men’s Fashion After the Fall of New France (1760 – 1780’s). A painting from the 17th Century displaying common trends; big wigs, puffy sleeves and cuffs while breeches worn to expose the socks.}

1700 mens clothing

Menswear In the 18th Century:

In the early years of the 18th century there were many fashion trends that were still popular for menswear that continued on throughout the late 18th century. Some of the trends were:

  • Breeches: Breeches were a type of pants for men which were worn either stopping at knee length or just below. It was fastened around the man’s leg with a drawstring and buckles. These pants were worn with socks that were pulled fully up and exposed.
  • Pantaloons: This was another type of menswear pants, however, they were for casual wear as breeches for seen as too formal.
  • Shirts: Men’s shirts were constructed with pleated cuffs, high collars and sometimes featured with ruffles down from the neckline.
  • Waistcoats: Waistcoat styles were constructed with a squared-off hem and a high waist. It was also common for the collars to be high, exaggerated or spread.
  • Greatcoats: Greatcoats were a more expensive touch to coats in the 18th century as they were made from fur or velvet. If a man were saw wearing a greatcoat is would represent someone with wealth.
  • Top Hat: This trend was one of the most popular trends throughout 18th century and continued to be popular trend to today.

Clothing Fabrics in 1800:

  • Fur: Fur was a common fabric that was used for constructing coats and jackets.
  • Velvet: Velvet was also common be used to construct coats, jackets and even some hats.
  • Linen: Linen was used to construct men’s shirts but was also used to experiment with constructing pants in.
  • Leather: Men’s shoes and gloves were made from leather.
  • Lace: Lace was used as a decorative touch to shirts and some jackets.
  • Silk: Silk as one of the most expensive choices to construct jackets and coats from. This was another fabric to showed other your wealth if it was being worn.

{Pictures Below; Displaying the Traditional Frock Coat style during the 1828-1830’s the were made from either Silk, Wool or Velvet Silk. Pantaloons worn underneath, 1820 – 1830’s, Displayed at Victoria and Albert Museum.}

1800 froak coats

Menswear During 1960’s – 1970’s:

During the years of 1960 – 1970’s menswear clothing became more fitted to suit the male figure. In tailoring, there were two very different styles of suits for men. The first was called the Leisure Suit which was introduced to shops during the 1970’s and became a very popular trend after the song “Saturday Night Fever” by John Travolta. The other suit trend was called the Track Suit. This was a sportier and casual take on suiting and was also very popular during the 70’s. However; nearer the end of the 70’s men’s trousers became more flared while changed the slimmer and “straight down” silhouette completely.

In tailoring, men’s suits became sleeker and were commonly worn with striking shirts and high-heeled boots. A common trend for menswear was called the “Flamboyant Look.” This look consisted of wider trousers and exaggerated lapels. Designers were a lot more open with experimenting with different types of fabrics and colours. Paco Rabanne designed and constructed a collection of dresses that were constructed from plastic Discs which inspired other fashion designers to incorporate unconventional materials in clothing.

{Pictures Below; Traditional menswear clothing worn throughout the 1960’s ad 1969’s.}

1900 clothing

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery

We spent the afternoon visiting Shrewsbury museum and art gallery to collect a wide range of primary research for our upcoming art project.

We were given the task to pick a garment that we will liked the look of and collect a range of photos of the up close detail, shapes, textures and colours. We also looked around the whole of the museum to see if anything else related to our chosen garment.

I’ve decided to focus all my attention to the Albania sleeveless jacket as I loved the continuous beaded embroidery. I also loved the contrast of bold and dramatic colours which made this garment stand out more compared to the others surrounding it. I noticed that the sleeveless jacket was made up of a floral and swirl pattern so I decided to venture round the museum to find other details and objects that related to my chosen garment.

My Chosen Garment:


Related Primary Research: