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Baroque Period Essay

During the reign of King James I of Great Britain, the Puritans continued to grow.  Some Puritans were unhappy with James’s religious practices and fled first to Holland, and then to the Americas.  While religious conformity continued to be the desired agenda, the Protestants were granted freedom of worship by Parliament, but the Roman Catholics were not granted the same.

The Roundheads and Cavaliers were enemies.  Roundheads were members of the Parliamentarian party during the English Civil War.  The Cavaliers were Royalists.  The main difference between the two groups was that the Roundheads had their hair cut short, while the Cavaliers kept their hair long.  The Cavaliers kept their hair long because the king found it more convenient to let his hair grow than to wash his neck.  Roundheads, on the other hand, were mostly barbers.

The etiquette of the French court prescribed the activities of every person at court.  For instance, the King’s day was ritualized from the moment he woke up in the morning.  The highest-ranking person assisted with dressing the king.  Rules also governed how long the trains of the ladies’ dresses should be.

Clothing in Spain was different from other countries because the Spanish tended to be more conservative than other countries.  Therefore, Spain kept styles that the rest of Europe had already abandoned.

The farthingale, also known as a verdingale, is the structure by which skirts were expanded by bone or wood.  A mantilla is the veil worn by women that covers the hair.  This has come to be associated with traditional Spanish dress.  Guardinfante is the style of the oval skirt that has full, slashed sleeves and a horizontal shoulder line.  The basque is the extension of the bodice below the waistline.  A modeste is the outer layer of a skirt, while a secret is the underskirt, or second layer.  A doublet is a garment worn over men’s shirts that were tied to the breeches.  A stomacher is a U-shaped section of the front of a gown.  The mantua was the shaping of the new cut of women’s dresses.

During the Baroque period, the Spanish preferred dark colors, but the French favored light shades of all colors, and rich colors such as gold and silver.
Rococo Period

During the reign of King Louis XV, France was engaged in costly wars that the country lost.  There was also a fiscal crisis and the king’s court was incredibly lavish, which contrasted with ordinary people’s lives.  During the reign of King Louis XVI, however, feudalism was abolished and France began to write a constitution.  The country also suffered defeats in wars with Prussia and Austria and the French Revolution ended the monarchy.  The court became less important, mostly because Queen Marie Antoinette found French court etiquette stifling.

During the Rococo period, King George III ruled England.  Social life in England centered on the upper classes.  For example, men who did not have to work would wake late, eat breakfast, and then, in his nightgown, receive guests.  In the afternoon, he would go shopping or to popular spots.  After dinner, he would go to a coffeehouse or to a play.  During the summer, affluent men would vacation at a spa.  Affluent women spent their mornings receiving guests while lying in bed.  Dressing often took several hours, and after that, she would visit friends or drink tea.  Dinner was around four in the afternoon, and the evenings were spent dancing or playing cards.

Frock coats were coats that men wore where the cut was looser and shorter than dress coats.  They also had flat, turned-down collars.  Panniers were wide hoops that went under skirts that made the hips look twice as large.  A robe a la Francaise was a new style of robe that had a full, pleated cut at the back and a fitted front.  A robe a l’Anglaise was a new style of robe that had a close fit in the front and at the back.  Engageants were sleeves that ended below the elbow, finishing in ruffles.  A polonaise was a petticoat and overdress in which the overskirt was puffed and looped via rings and tapes that were sewn into it.  A bustle or a hoop supported the skirt.

Men in the eighteenth century who could afford wigs wore them.  Long, “full-bottomed” wigs were worn until the 1730s, but the fullness gradually shifted toward the back.  They also brushed the hair straight back from the forehead, into a slightly elevated roll.  After 1750, hair was dressed higher, and in the 1780s hair was dressed wider.  Other popular styles included wigs with queues, a lock or pigtail at the back, and club wigs or catogans with queues doubled up on themselves and tied at the middle.  King Louis XIV began the trend of wearing wigs because he was going bald.  Hats fell out of use when wigs became widespread.

The hats of the day included three-cornered hats, large, flat hats that were carried under the arm, and two-cornered hats.  Men wore caps instead of wigs at home.  Common styles for the cap was a cap with a round crown and flat, turned-up brim that fit close to the crown.  Women in the eighteenth century wore simple hairstyles that replaced fontage styles.  Hair was generally waved loosely around the face and twisted up into a small bun on top of, or in back of, the head.  For formal occasions, women sometimes powdered their hair.  Women’s hats for indoors included pinners, circular caps with single or double frills around the edge, worn flat on the head, mob caps with wide, flat borders that encircled the face with high, puffed-out crowns located toward the back of the head.

Lace trimming was often used, and indoor hats could be worn outdoors under other hats.  Outdoor women’s hats included hoods, small silk or straw hats with narrow ribbon bands and narrow brims.

The technology that was developed that related to clothing during this time was advancements in the textile industry that expanded textile availability and lowered costs.

The costume design could be inaccurate. Portraits of people wearing these clothes are many, but artists sometimes felt that portraits were not to reveal fashionable dress, but rather timeless dress.  Therefore, museum collections of these clothes and pictorial representations could be inaccurate.  For example, Sir Joshua Reynolds, a prominent English portraitist, hated fashion and urged artists to disregard what they found to be fashionable by way of dress, to only paint those characteristics that are everywhere and the same.

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