The Sartorial Self: Neoclassical Fashion and Gender Identity in France, 1797–1804


This article examines the fashion for dressing à la grecque among elite women in late Directorial and Consular France. The discourse on Greek fashion served multiple, competing agendas. Neoclassical fashion presented opportunities for women's self-fashioning and agency as well as for reifying and essentializing femininity. Laying claim to the political and artistic virtues associated with the grandeur of classical antiquity, women who adopted neoclassical dress took on roles as arbiters of taste and aesthetics and as works of art themselves.