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Between 1750 and 1820, fashion went through an amazing metamorphosis. The embroidery-encrusted suits of the macaronis and the stiff-boned bodices of the female elegantes gave way, after the French Revolution, to the unbuttoned excesses of the `merveilleuses' and `incroyables'. In France, women dressed a l'antique or a la sauvage, burning their corsets and exposing their flesh in skimpy shifts, while male fashion victims sported immodestly

skin-tight breeches,

chin-hugging cravats and jackets designed to be too small. The elderly English buck in Rowlandson's caricature (left) is attempting to ape French style with his too small coat. From `The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750-1820' by Aileen Ribeiro (Yale, pounds 40)