Outlander Etiquette and Dress
|The bergère hat (also known as a Shepherdess hat) and the ornate dress, are pretty much on target for Louis XV's reign, but a lady never held hands or linked arms with a gentleman. The women’s skirts were so wide, she was to place her hand on top of the gentleman’s bent arm as they strolled through the gardens and chambers of Versailles.|
With excitement building for the upcoming new season of Outlander, as with other well done period dramas, I will try not to kill the enjoyment of watching the storyline by fussing over historical inaccuracies I catch in dialogue, wardrobe, or the odd blooper every now and then.
For one thing, I know it drives my husband nuts. For another, the crews and casts do work very hard to make such shows look so very good. However, I cannot help but notice little details. I spotted the first error in my recent copy of Entertainment Weekly, and the new season hasn't even started. I am hoping the etiquette blooper above is simply a one-off, from a publicity photo shoot – a photographer thought it would look better for them to link arms, or ??? I will most likely never know. So from this point on, I will simply try to ignore anything that rudely jumps out at me and keep my popcorn consumption to a minimum.
Clothing and Etiquette at Versailles:
When Louis XIV came to the throne in 1643, the fashion capital of the world wasn’t Paris, but Madrid. Taste tends to follow power, and for the past two centuries or so Spain had been enjoying its Golden Age, amassing a vast global empire that fueled a booming domestic economy. Spanish style was tight and rigid—both physically and figuratively—and predominantly black. Not only was black considered to be sober and dignified by the staunchly Catholic Habsburg monarchy, but high-quality black dye was extremely expensive, and the Spanish flaunted their wealth by using as much of it as possible. They advertised their imperial ambitions, as well, for Spain imported logwood—a key dyestuff—from its colonies in modern-day Mexico. While Spain’s explorers and armies conquered the New World, her fashions conquered the old one, and Spanish style was adopted at courts throughout Europe.
At Versailles, a strict code of court dress and etiquette ensured a steady market for French-made clothing and jewelry. Louis has been accused of trying to control his nobles by forcing them to bankrupt themselves on French fashions, but, in fact, he often underwrote these expenses, believing that luxury was necessary not only to the economic health of the country but to the prestige and very survival of the monarchy. France soon became the dominant political and economic power in Europe, and French fashion began to eclipse Spanish fashion from Italy to the Netherlands. French was the new black.
A lady of Versailles never held hands or linked arms with a gentleman. It was in very bad taste and nearly impossible because a woman’s skirts were so wide. She was to place her hand on top of the gentleman’s bent arm as they strolled through the gardens and chambers of Versailles. Ladies were only allowed to touch their fingertips with the men.
— Sources - Atlantic Monthly and Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia