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The Enlightenment and Casticismo

The 18th century began in Spain with the arrival of Felipe V and the establishment of the Bourbon dynasty, which brought sweeping changes to society and the style of dress. In the previous century, the typical Spanish costume was black, sober and elegant. Indeed, this traje a la española had been worn throughout Europe during Spanish heyday, until the French way of dressing -in lighter, more colourful garb- pushed it aside. The French style, however, envolved over time towards greater simplicity and sobriety. Although the royal court and the nobility faithfully followed the dictates of Paris, then the fashion capital of Europe, the population at large retained a uniquely Spanish way of dressing. This fidelity to "pure" Spanish traditions in the face of foreign influences was known as casticismo. Many foreign writers described Spain's national dress as the black skirt and shawl for women, and the cape and broad-brimmed hat for men.