Embroidery on a Baroque shoe in the fashion museum at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

Dressing for courtFrench fashionin Württemberg

In the 18th century, ceremonial court attire spared no expense. Refined cuts, richly decorated fabrics, embroidery and lace contributed to the appearance. Duke Carl Eugen and his court followed the French fashions with regard to their clothing and fashion choices.

Staatsporträt von Herzog Carl Eugen von Württemberg, Pompeo Batoni, 1753

An impeccably dressed duke.

A men's suit

A complete men's suit in the Rococo period consisted of knee breeches, called "culottes" in French, a vest and a long coat, or "justacorps." This was often worn open and was cut so that the lavishly embroidered vest was well visible. After the mid-18th century, the justacorps became simpler in cut and elaborateness. Ornate buttons were an important element in men's clothing. Depending on the wearer, they might be made of gold or gemstones.

An important part of the ensemble: the accessories

A men's wardrobe was rounded out with a shirt of fine linen, the visible parts of which drew a great deal of attention: The shirt frills, referred to as a "jabot", an elegant precursor to the modern necktie, and the flounce-like cuffs were made of lace. White silk stockings with narrow and decorated heeled shoes, a white powdered wig en queue, a tricorn, typically carried under one arm, and depending on rank, a court sword, rounded out the appropriate male appearance.

Portrait of Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg, circa 1760
Staatsporträt von Herzog Carl Eugen von Württemberg, Pompeo Batoni, 1753

The impeccably dressed duke: from shirt frills to red heels, as worn by French nobility.

Portrait of Elisabeth Friederike von Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1732–1780), Wolfgang Majer, circa 1745

Duchess Elisabeth Friederike, wife of Carl Eugen, in full-dress.

Gowns "à la française" for the ladies

18th-century ladies' clothing, on the other hand, differentiated between ceremonial court attire, called "cour," courtly full-dress attire, or "grande parure," half-dress attire, called "parure," and negligee attire, or house and street clothing. The changing courtly fashions were primarily demonstrated in the changing finery, fashionable accessories, and fabric colors and patterns. The most common "grande parure" between 1740 and 1786 was the "gown à la française," which included the high Rococo hairstyle after 1750.

Baroque lady's shoe in the fashion museum at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

Typical: The heel curved inward on the sides and toward the front.

Perfection all the way down to the shoes

In the 18th century, shoes were welted and had a heel. Shoes were also single-lasted. The right and left shoe could not be differentiated, unless they'd been worn in. Men's shoes had heels that were wide and low, similar to those found on men's shoes today, and fashioned from several layers of thick leather. Women's shoes had heels that were higher and were therefore constructed of a leather-covered wooden core. Typically, these heels were 3 to 5 cm high, in extreme cases up to 10 cm.