French fashion was particularly influencing in Europe. In the period after the French Revolution and during the Directoire no one, in no European country, wanted to appear an aristocrat . The informal style triumphed. This style was called Directoire with reference to the Directory which ran ( = governò) France during the second half of the 1790s, Empire with reference to Napoleon’s 1804–1814/1815 empire, or Regency with reference to the 1811–1820 period of George IV, before Queen Victoria.
Women started wearing gowns (= vestiti) according to the classical ideals: the dresses were closely fitted to the torso (= attillati sul busto) just under the bust (= seno), falling loosely below (= cadendo liberamente).
The high-waisted (= vita alta), natural figure substituted the tight “wasp-waist” (= vitino da vespa) corseting (= corsetto). The gowns were usually made of white, almost transparent muslin (= mussolina, un tessuto leggero), which was easily washed (= facilmente lavabile) and draped (= drappeggiata) loosely (= in modo non stretto) like the garments (=ornamenti) on Greek and Roman statues.
Middle- and upper-class women wore different dresses in the morning, and at dinner time. The morning dresses were usually worn at home till the afternoon: they had a high neck (= collo alto) and long sleeves (= maniche lunghe) , covering throat (= gola) and wrists (= polsi), and generally plain (= semplici). From dinner time till night the sleeves were to the elbow (= gomito) , the arms covered with gloves (= guanti), the neck and shoulders (= collo e spalle) unveiled (= scoperte)
There were also diffrenet afternoon dress: walking dresses, riding habits (= vestiti da cavallerizza), travelling dresses, dinner dresses, etc.
The most fashionable colours were the pinks (= rosa), periwinkle blue (= blu pervinca), or lilacs, for the young ladies; the more mature women usually wore purple (= viola), black, crimson (= rosso scuro), deep blue (= blu scuro), or yellow.
A book dictated (= dettava)the main rules (= regole) for fashionable “Ladies of Distinction”: the Mirror of Graces; or the English Lady’s Costume, published in
in 1811. London