Fashion caricatures show the moods of the modes.

In A Peep at Christies (1796), James Gillray c...

Image via Wikipedia


Fashion caricatures have entertained (or annoyed) throughout the ages.  We can even imagine that some cave paintings were making the fashion commentary of the day. 

Fashion caricatures show the moods of the modes quite well.  Not all were enamored of the variations fashion creatures demanded. 

All images and words to follow are from 

Following the Fashion” a December 1794 caricature by James Gillray, which satirizes incipient neo-Classical trends in women’s clothing styles, particularly the trend towards what were known at the time as “short-bodied gowns” (i.e. short-bodiced or high-waisted dresses). This caricature satirizes the figure-type which is most flattered by high-waisted dresses, contrasting it with a body-type which was not flattered by the style — as well as playing on the perennial struggle between attempts of the “Cits” (families of rich merchants in the City of London area) to imitate the stylish aristocrats of west London, versus the determination of the aristocrats to socially repulse the Cits, and consider them to be still unstylish.” 


Ah ! s’il y voyoit !…” (“Ah! What if he could see!”). Library of Congress description: “Print shows two fashionably dressed women walking on a country road and a “blind” beggar with a small dog on a leash and holding a cup and stick in right hand. The man has stepped on the skirt of one of the women causing it to tear, exposing her bare buttocks for the “blind” man to see. A satire on contemporary clothing fashions.” Aquatint and etching. 


Les Modernes Incroyables”, a satire on male fashions from Caricatures Parisiennes, 1810. (The original “Incroyables” were males who took up cutting-edge or extreme fashions in the 1790s; their female counterparts were the “Merveilleuses“.) 


Surf over to the WikiMedia list of fashion caricatures and learn more.  There are currently more than 100 caricatures to enjoy! 


1 Comment

Filed under Art, Fashion

One response to “Fashion caricatures show the moods of the modes.

  1. I am particularly drawn to the second picture. Two women ideally wearing the same outfit. As a woman who wears goddess size clothing, not every piece of garment that fits, necessarily looks good on me. I have seen many beautiful styles of clothing that I so desire to wear but I have to be honest with myself and realize that not all styles look good on me.
    An example of this is the empire look. Let alone the seam line of the bodice will lay above my breast but then it look as if I’m wearing a maternity blouse and I even have the protruding belly to go with it. (this may be acceptable for the younger ladies, but for a woman in her 50’s?!!) Not so great.

    So again, not everything that looks good is necessarily good for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s