1805 An Official Ball,
in the Strasbourg Theater.
Two women stand talking at a ball and wearing formal attire, closer to the ‘costume de cour’ or formal court dress worn under the French king’s reign, while dancers twirl in the background.
In 1804, the ensembles worn at Napoleon’s court, and by his entourage, were still quite formal despite clothing overall becoming more relaxed in style than the strict formality of earlier years.
On the right, the lady wears white silk embroidered in gold, in the style of the empress. The collar is edged with white lace and a gorgeous long purple coat with gold decoration is attached at the shoulders. She is wearing a plumed headdress, fashionable at that time.
On the left, the lady wears a typical white, high-waisted or Empire style, dress which flows to the floor in a simpler line. She is wearing a gold shawl, rows of pearls around her neck, long white gloves, and carrying a fan.
Illustrations by François Courboin from Octave Uzanne‘s Les Modes de Paris. Variations du goût et de l’esthétique de la femme, 1797-1897, L. Henry May, Paris, 1898, or from the English translation of the same work: Fashion in Paris : the various phases of feminine taste and aesthetics from 1797 to 1897, William Heinemann, London, 1898.