development of distinctive national styles, which remained very different until a counter-movement in the 17th to 18th centuries imposed similar styles once again, finally those from Ancien Rgime in France. Though the rich usually led fashion, the increasing affluence of early modern Europe led to the bourgeoisie and even peasants following trends at a distance sometimes uncomfortably close for the elites – a factor Braudel regards as one of the main motors of changing fashion.
Albrecht Drer’s drawing contrasts a well turned out bourgeoise from Nuremberg (left) with her counterpart from Venice. The Venetian lady’s high chopines make her taller
Ten 16th century portraits of German or Italian gentlemen may show ten entirely different hats, and at this period national differences were at their most pronounced, as Albrecht Drer recorded in his actual or composite contrast of Nuremberg and Venetian fashions at the close of the 15th century (illustration, right). The “Spanish style” of the end of the century began the move back to synchronicity among upper-class Europeans, and after a struggle in the mid 17th century, French styles decisively took over leadership, a process completed in the 18th century.
Though colors and patterns of textiles changed from year to year, the cut of a gentleman’s coat and the length of his waistcoat, or the pattern to which a lady’s dress was cut changed more slowly. Men’s fashions largely derived from military models, and changes in a European male silhouette are galvanized in theatres of European war, where