Costumes in New France

Costumes in New France - LES BEAUX ATOURS (1675-1715) 

1. Commoners 
2. Bourgeoisie
3. Nobility
4. Lexicon

Commoners 

In New France, clothing for both men and women of the lower classes was generally made with rough or fine woolen fabrics (wool and cotton weaves).

Men

le peuple

MenHair was worn long and natural, often covered by a (usually red) toque, a type of woolen hat. Shirts were made of white cotton with collars and buttoned cuffs. Pants were made of woolen fabrics, featured button flies, and were fitted at the knee.

Men also wore waistcoats, which were buttoned at the front and featured pockets and basques*. They also wore ties of fine canvass tied at the neck, with both ends falling over the chest.

They wore tailored or knitted long wool stockings held up by garters and leather shoes that tied at the top with a metal buckle. Some also wore clogs.

Women

Women covered their hair with quilted bonnets* tied under the chin. These bonnets were made of quilted canvass and always worn under a head covering known as a cornette*, while other bonnets, such as single or double rowed bonnets*, were worn alone.

Women wore canvass or muslin neckerchiefs. White cotton blouses were short sleeved and open at the neck.

Bodices were fitted garments with basques* and sleeves tied at the front or back.

Skirts, worn over petticoats, were long and generous and made of woolen fabric.

Aprons were made of heavy canvass or dark woolen fabric. Women always wore white aprons in public.

Stockings were made of wool and held by garters at the knee. They were worn with shoes or clogs.

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Bourgeoisie 

The clothing of the better off was tailored from silk, velvet, or beautiful woolen fabrics. The bourgeoisie had many more colors to choose from. 

Menla bourgeoisie

MenWigs were the height of fashion, along with canes and gloves. Three-cornered hats were adorned with feathers.  

Shirts were white and made of fine canvass, featuring jabots* and oversleeves*.

Pants were tailored from rich cloth and ended at the knees. They boasted beautiful metal buttons that were both decorative and practical.

Men’s waistcoats, which featured embroideries and braids, were worn under ornate justaucorps*.

Long, straight ties were made of muslin and wrapped around the neck with their knotted ends falling over the chest.

Stockings were made of red or pink silk. Shoes had square toes and high heels.

Women

Ladies wore their hair in the Fontange* style.

Their white blouses were of fine canvass adorned with lace collars and engageantes*.

Fitted dresses featured short, narrow sleeves.

Dress coats were left open at the front to reveal ladies’ stomachers*. The bottoms of the dresses were raised and pinned at the back.

Skirts were ornately decorated with pleats and appliqués.

Silk stockings and shoes were covered in rich cloth.  

Ladies often carried fans or parasols or wore gloves.

When indoors or in the garden, they would wear lace aprons.

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Nobility 

The ornate clothing of the nobility was made of luxurious fabrics well beyond the reach of the other classes, who had to settle for imitating the cut of their clothing.

Menla noblesse

MenWigs, known as in folio, were so cumbersome that noblemen had to carry their hats under their arms.

Their white shirts featured jabots* and cuffs*. Jabots, cuffs, and ties were adorned with the finest Point de France or Point de Venise lace.

A Steinkerque-style tie was wound twice around the neck and its ends were inserted into the sixth buttonhole of the justaucorps*.

Vests were embroidered with gold and silver thread. Justaucorps* worn on top were decorated with golden braids and ribbons.

Men wore pants of the finest figured silk*.

Stockings were made of silk, and shoes covered in figured silk*.

Men carried canes and wore gloves.

Women

Ladies wore their hair in the Fontange* style, and the lace they wore was decorated with butterflies or hornets made of gems.

Their white shirts of fine canvass were open at the neck and adorned with frilled lace.

Engageantes* were decorated with Point de France or Point de Venise lace.

Dresses were tailored from the finest figured silk* and ornately decorated with gold and silver thread.

Skirts were adorned with appliqués and fringes* and worn over layered petticoats.

Women protected their pale skin from the sun with gloves and parasols.

Their stockings were made of silk, and their shoes covered with figured silk*.

Note: From the age of six, children from all social classes dressed as adults, according to social class.

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Lexicon 

  • Basques : Lower part of an item of clothing, flared according to the fashion of the day
  • Cornette : A head covering whose long tails could be tied up or left free.
  • Engageantes : Fixed, funnel-shaped lace decorations at the end of the sleeves on a woman’s garment.
  • Figured silk : A rich silk fabric adorned with embossed designs of gold and silver thread.
  • Fontange hairstyle : High curls above the forehead with two locks forming kiss curls on the forehead. The hair was swept up into a bun at the back, with curls falling forward onto the forehead and down onto the nape of the neck. A bonnet covered the bun, and large folds of lace were raised into a high structure atop the head.
  • Fringes :  Loose ends of cloth at the edges of a cut.
  • Jabots : Lace (or muslin) decorations sewn around the shirt collar and spread across the chest.
  • Justaucorps : Embroidered garment covered with braids and ribbons. It was taken in at the waist and extended to the knees. It featured basques, banded cuffs, and pockets placed high or low on the garment, depending on the fashion of the day. The bottom was split down the back and along the sides.
  • Oversleeve : Detachable decorations adorning the cuffs of a man’s shirt.
  • Quilted bonnet : A quilted bonnet comprising three pieces (the center and both sides). The outside was made of canvass and lined with fustian (a cotton fabric from the Orient that could be plain or feature a striped or moiré design).Cotton was inserted between these two layers, and the whole thing was pinned to keep the cotton in place.
  • Single or double rowed bonnet : A bonnet adorned with light or dark colored bands of fabrics surrounding the face.
  • Stomacher : An ornate or embroidered triangular garment used to cover the lacings of a corset.

Les beaux atours moyenne

Credit for material: Les plus beaux atours. 1675–1715, © Commission de la Capitale Nationale du Québec

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