Functional clothing influenced by Anglomania came into the French woman’s closet in the 1770’s. The Retroussée dans les poches was a style popular for walking in the countryside and enjoying the open air. The design of the gown pulled up the skirt fabric through the slits of the pockets, giving a sense of freedom of movement, and drape from the heaviness of the fabric. This example from the Kyoto Costume Institute shows a Robe a la Francaise worn this way, but a Robe a l’Anglaise can also be worn ‘retroussee dans les poches.’
This style drew on the work costumes and clothes from the most humble walks of life; what we consider commonly as workwear. The 18th Century isn’t known for form and function, though this is perhaps the first evidence of functional daywear for women introduced in the West. Considering the clear purpose of clothing for movement, and modesty (or covering), and the recent popularity of sportswear and its many variations, we must consider the origins of this thinking and design.
The Kyoto Costume Institute recognizes the importance of understanding clothing sociologically, historically, and artistically. Founded in 1978, the KCI holds one of the world's most extensive clothing collections and has curated many exhibitions worldwide. With an emphasis on Western women's clothing, the KCI has amassed a wide range of historical garments, underwear, shoes, and fashion accessories dating from the 18th century to the present day.
FASHION – A History from the 18th to the 20th Century – Volume I: 18th and 19th Century – The collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute