Monday, March 30, 2009
Color Coded for Your Convenience!
Clothes were as essential a part of the Georgian political system as they are today. Every politician must be well dressed and know their political colors. Though there were no acrimonious debates over flag lapel pins, King Louis XVI managed to save the lives of himself and his family by agreeing to wear a revolutionary Phyrigan cap and a tricolor cockade. Fashion was an integral part of the political process.
The Whigs, a group which supported a more oligarchial form of rule with power mostly in the hands of the aristocracy, but which also included republican radicals like Thomas Paine, wore buff and blue. These were the colors of the American Revolutionary Army's uniforms. Most Whig leaders wore buff knee-breeches or waistcoats and a blue coat in their offical portraits. See the portrait of Sheridan on the left.
The Tories, a more conservative group which supported the power of the monarchy, wore green. This was the color of the uniform of the British dragoons, again, from the war of the American Revolution. See the portrait of Banastre Tarleton to the right.
Where does leave Pitt the Younger, below, in black, you may ask? Pitt considered himself an independant Whig for most of his life, which meant that he was a stickler for the constitution and prefered a balance of power between the aristocracy and the monarchy. He also, according to contemporary reports, did not have much time or inclination to devote himself to following fashion, and wore black because it hid inkstains the best.