"After the Revolution, woman's costume in France moved towards simplicity and freedom from both moral and physical restrictions. The new mode was pioneered by Medames Recamier and Tallien who were the leaders of the new Parisian social set known as as les merveilleuses. The ladies' clothes showed a much more definite break with the past the did those of their male counterparts, les incroyables. Panniers, bum-rolls, corsets and even petticoats were abandoned completely. From 1790 to the turn of the century, woman wore a style known asrobe en chemise which, as the name suggests, resembles the undergarment of the previous century. Never since the ancient Egypt had society ladies never seen in such a state of undress. So sheer was the material used for these gowns that, for the sake of decency, they were sometimes worn with flesh-coloured tights. The robe en chemise worn with open sandals was an attempt by Parisian ladies to copy the costume of the ancient Greeks.
They looked towards Greece not only for aesthetic inspiration but also for a philosophy upon which to base their new republic. In fact this outfit bore only the most superficial resemblance to the Greek chiton. No self-respecting Greek woman would ever have appeared in public in this state of near nudity. During the early 1790s he gown was at its very simplest, a slender shift of sheer muslin, gathered at the neck and under the breasts which gave it an extremely short waist, in contrast to the elongated waists of the previous decade. This became a feature of the early nineteenth century which, together with the sheerness of the fabric, led to the famous couplet: