His Majesty had a perfect artistic taste not only in building and dancing. Fashion, among other things, was in his power and I’d say that he was the absolute trendsetter in it. Generally speaking, the 17th century, due to plenty of dynamic events, brought a constant evolution in dressing. Fashion changed promptly, so you had to be very attentive & well-informed not to miss any detail. And it was a very difficult task, as the rich imagination of Louis XIV invented trends faster than the clothes themselves were made.
If we examine the French 17th century costume, we will definitely notice that under Louis XIII it was more or less static, without any particular changes. It had a strong Spanish influence, coming from the previous century & reminding of the faded power of Spain. The Thirty Years’ War impeded the costume evolution, besides France was weak yet to set its will in this field.
However, after Louis XIV held the power, the situation changed. Being young, vigorous & creative, His Majesty managed to become the most powerful trendsetter rather fast and kept this status during his reign. He made some practical reforms which allowed to run fabric, lace & plaiting manufacturing in France. Besides obvious advantages, this policy lowered down depending on foreign textiles & opened the way for a fashion creativity.
Louis XIV wore clothes made from French fabrics & decorated with French laces, etc. So, the Court followed his examples. Moreover, decorative elements like laces, braid, feathers were considered prestigious ones & were often given as payments. For example, brave warriors often received laces as victory awards.
The key costume details were fabrics & decorative elements, as our ancestors were rather wise to use the same patterns for quite a long period of time. The 17th century people madehigh quality clothes & shoes aiming to use them for long years ahead. Unlike our time, squandering was unpopular, besides you risked to be imprisoned if you made low-quality goods.
No matter its richness, the costume was very functional, easy to be kept, moved & washed. Sleeves, chemise laces could be easily undone & replaced, while shoes with high heels were extremely comfortable for riding. I guess people even felt different dressed in these gorgeous costumes, as each of them was a unique masterpiece of the sewing art.
Vive le Roy! 🙂