The years 1795 through 1820 saw a dramatic shift in women’s clothing styles. The stiff courtly gowns that marked the earlier 18th century were discarded for simple peasant style dresses in the midst of the French Revolution as no one wanted to risk being associated with the French Aristocracy class. As the French Revolution subsided, Napoleon led a number of military campaigns to Italy, bringing back many statues and artifacts from Greco-Roman ruins. A revival of all things “classical” was stirred. The austere peasant dresses that marked the French Revolution were easily transformed to mimic the garments depicted on the Greek and Roman statues by raising the waistlines to just below the breasts. This distinctive characteristic would come to epitomize the Empire and Regency Periods.
The Bib-Front dress, also known as the Apron-Front, High Stomacher, Placket-Front, and Drop Front Dress, was one of the most popular styles of the Early Regency Period. Its simplicity, versatility, and built in support made it an ideal choice for both day dresses and evening gowns. Its popularity waned after 1813, but it remained in use until the end of the Regency Period in 1820.