The author of this article is Cissie Fairchilds, a professor of history at Syracuse University with a specialty in 18th century France. Fashion and Freedom in the French Revolution says it all. In this article she sets aside the normal claims such that the advancing political rights for women was the only, or at least the main reason for a shift in clothing regulations in the French Revolution. Instead she claims that the shifts in clothing, and indeed the women’s political rights, were both a part of the overall view on consumer goods as a whole.
Fairchilds list two different sides to the argument. The first is that spending one’s money how they pleased is a basic right. The second she stated was “goods had not just symbolic but also formative and didactic personality. Clothes literally made the man, and therefore dress should be regulated for the good of society as a whole.” The article examines both sides to the arguments thoroughly. She gives the background of the time as well as explains the common thoughts about the regulations. “…until the middle of the eighteenth century sumptuary laws forbade them to buy or wear foreign-made laces….” “Such restrictions were accepted because until around 1750 most people though that allowing consumers to buy what they pleased would be harmful….”
After she had discussed the promoters and ideas behind regulating what consumers could purchase, she begins to