|KCI - jacket, 1790 - revolutionary or royalist?|
In Revolutionary France, color played a huge role in publicly announcing who you were and what side you were on. We are very familiar with the blue, white, and red being pro-revolutionary colors, but we may not be so aware of the other colors and what they represented. Here is a basic guide:
Blue, White, Red - colors of the Revolutionaries. They not only wore these colors as ribbon cockades, but in their entire dress.
|a liberty bonnet, a man's hat that came to symbolize the Revolution.|
|Selections from Dames a la Mode on Tumblr - very Revolutionary costumes.|
|Selections from Dames a la Mode - despite the redingote (center) being associated with Marie Antoinette and Austria, in its was commandeered as a nationalist symbol, in its Revolutionary form, as was the gaulle.|
|Not a tricolore cockade to be see on these glaringly Royalist outfits - from Dames a la Mode on Tumblr|
|Green was the color of the Comte d'Artois; and black was that of the aristocracy. Fashion plates from Dames a la Mode|
To get a sense of the importance of color in the political arena of 18th century Paris, think about the color associations we have today. Americans, we know what these colors mean:
...and we know that Democrats wear blue ties, and Republicans wear red ties, a sartorial display of allegiance, just like in Revolutionary France.
Now, of course, these color "rules" only apply to Revolutionary France, a relatively short period starting in 1789 with the fall of the Bastille. This is not to say that these colors - red, blue, green, purple, black, white - did not have meaning before this date, just that they became even more important during this time. Other countries also had their own color associations and "rules," too, for instance, the buff and blue of the United States, versus the red and white of England. It's always a good idea to brush up on "What Not To Wear, 18th Century," before wearing, say, a red gown to, say, Colonial Williamsburg, 1780.
|That is a Royalist suit if I ever there was one - French, 1790, The Met.|
If you want to read more about this subject, I highly recommend Caroline Weber's Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution . Also visit, just for fun, Dames a la Mode, and have a look through the late 1780s-early 1790s fashion plates, and decide which are Revolutionary fashions, and which are Royalist.