This country is a real homeland to fashion; this is what most of us truly know. But a few will have knowledge about the heritage history of this great nation. France is located in the Western Europe which is the largest country in Europe having its territories all over the lovely planet. France was once known as the main hub for the luxury items production and their trade which is still continued. France remained a dominating country in its history as it was a major power in Europe since the late middle ages. You can easily guess the cultural significance of France as it has the world’s fourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and thus it attracts largest number of tourists from all around the globe.
The archaeological history of France is evident that the country had a strong past of sophisticated cloth making that surely started from animal-skin. Later invasions brought positive change in the region’s cultural scenario. More innovations were adopted by the cloth merchants as new fabrics like silk and linen were introduced.
Tunic-shaped and wool made cloaks over linen made shirts were in common. Wealthy people enriched their dresses with gold-thread and silver-thread embroidery. Stockings and socks embellished with skillful knitting were quite popular. Similarly, the elaborate and fascinating shoes were also used. Magnificent headdresses are significant parts of the traditional French outfits.
Real progressive change occurred in the French clothing during the renaissance period when home-based small units involved in the silk-weaving business were established everywhere. Silk fiber resultantly also lead to produce different types of decorative items for dresses as tassels, fringes, pompoms, silk embroideries and floral ribbons. Lace making was become the prominent feature of the French textile industry.
Enormous development was made in the women clothes as the fashion of white colored lace-trimmed blouses and aprons was massively accepted. The outfits were usually bedecked with brilliant floral patterns. In some parts, white flared bonnets and dresses with wide elbow-length sleeves were also trendy.
France is historically Europe’s most populous nation as in 2013; France ended with a population of 65,820,916 people. Currently a large number of immigrants who have sought asylum from the French government are also inhabited in France. These immigrants mainly belong to other European, Latin American and African countries. France is a large multiethnic country and many ethnic groups reside in different parts of its territory. When it comes to the traditional dress of France, there is distinction in the clothing trend of various regions. Commonly, French people are seen in pants and skirts and wearing stylish hats. Traditional costumes are rarely seen as the same are the part of folklore and cultural celebrations.
Between eleventh to the thirteenth century, an over garment known as the bliaut or bliaud that was made with woolens, linens or silks was also acclaimed among the French elite. Bliaut was fit closely from the shoulder to approximately the elbow, and then widen from the elbow to drape to floor- or nearly floor-length. Both men and women wore floor length bliaut while some bliauts included a double wrapped belt as well. This medieval garb was equally popular in other European countries like England and Germany.
During renaissance, mantua was also a famous object in the clothing for the French women. In the beginning, the mantua was actually a cloak like a loose gown, with sleeves cut in one piece with the back and front. It was pleated at the shoulders and fell to the waist, where it was held in place by a sash. From there it was folded back into a bustle shape and worn over a matching petticoat. The dress was gradually become acceptable for women as a cherished formal costume in France.
The French hood was actually a multi-layered and complicated head-dress sitting flat on the wearer’s head that was originated from France during the sixteenth century. Velvet, satin and taffeta was commonly used for the hood, and satin, taffeta or a lighter fabric for the veil. French hoods were normally made after preparing the buckram and millinery-wire bases which that were covered with fabric. In the sixteenth century, French hood contained coif or cap that was made with linen and tied under the chin. The veil of a French hood was sometimes made semi-circularly while sometimes rectangular by others. Billaments were the decorative borders along the upper edge of the hood and the front edge of the coif or paste.
A fichu was a large, square kerchief worn by the French women to fill in the low neckline of a bodice. It originated in the United Kingdom in the 18th century and remained popular there and in France through the 19th with many variations, as well as in the United States. The fichu was generally of linen fabric and was folded diagonally into a triangle and tied, pinned, or tucked into the bodice in front.
In the French military uniform, kepi hat made with a fine cloth having a flat circular top along with a short leather bill was also used customarily. Even today, the same type hats are worn by the French police and military. Kepi hat is usually associated with the United States Civil War in North America. French customs officers (douaniers) and the Gendarmerie still wear kepis for ceremonial duty.
The striped Breton shirt which is popular these days was originally introduced for the French navy as the white striped knitted shirt was made as the uniform for all French navy seamen in Brittany. The original design featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories. Later, it became the favorite attire of the sailors of the northern France. In the start of the twentieth century, Breton tops were fashionable garments among the common French people particularly the working class.
Beret was a common headdress among the French people as the same was evolved to protect the head from harsh weather effects. It was made with rain-resistant wool fabric usually hand-knitted or woven and it got immense popularity in the 19th century, when it was made the component part of the soldier’s uniform. Today, beret is considered as a strong sign of local identity in the southwest of France and is worn while celebrating traditional events.
French youth especially students feel proud in wearing faluche, which is a traditional beret shaped cap, normally black in color and adorned with bright ribbons and badges. The colors and badges related to the faluche recall the life of the student. The circular is covered with a fabric band taking again the colors of the studied discipline. In 1988 the 100th anniversary of the faluche was celebrated in Reims, which has continued annually, in a different city each year.
French people are no more interested in wearing their traditional dresses in the modern life. However, as it is mentioned earlier that France is the most attractive tourist destination in the world, the folk artists, traditional performers and entertainers amuse the visitors by wearing colorful traditional dress of France.
It is better for understanding that the traditional dress of France is found in many versions both for the men and women. Due to this, there is no declaration as the national dress of France by the French government.
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