The New Fashion Police

Prior to the French Revolution, the wealthy called the shots in fashion and in life.  The aristocracy had all the power, and this was especially true and represented in their clothing choices.  Wealthy individuals had an image to maintain and like in all other societies we have studied before, this was applied to their apparel.   Elaborate and over the top clothing choices were an easy and quick way for the upper class to distinguish themselves from the masses.  This was the norm in society across cultures and time periods, until the French Revolution.  During the revolution, everything changed.  The lower class sans-culottes were the ones in charge, and the wealthy followed their lead.  Instead of wearing the over the top and impractical garb they were used to, the wealthy looked to the lower classes for style inspiration.  As the article so nicely put it, “it was no longer in fashion to be in fashion”.  The trends  that were so popular right before the revolution commenced were quickly replaced by more simple, loose and common looking clothing.  No longer were there distinct rules for how to dress, and authorities telling people what was “in-style”.  As the monarchy and aristocracy quickly decayed so did all symbols representing these groups, including anything of luxury or high quality.  Now the rich were not dressing to stand out, but to fit in.  This change in fashion and who dictated what was in vogue represented the change in power and who was ruling the country.  It also showed that all associated with the old, pre revolution France would be condemned and all associated with commoners and the newer, revolutionary styles would be encouraged.