Two dresses (French) c. 1810
From the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History:
The combination of white mull, a thin and almost sheer cotton, with a cylindrical silhouette and a high Empire waistline comprises a potent evocation of classical dress. Although there are many images depicting the belting of chitons and peploi above the natural waistline, the raised waist was rarely positioned directly under the bust. This Neoclassical mannerism abetted the illusion of the body as a dramatically linear and columnar form. Fashionable Directoire and Empire beauties, however, did not embrace the architectonic solidity of ancient caryatids. Instead, their classicism was aligned with an arcadian “naturalism” that rationalized the disclosure of the supple female form. Observers of the period frequently deplored the absence of modesty conveyed by a style that was predicated on the prominence and exposure of the breasts and on the barely veiled body. The women of ancient Greece, generally swathed in modesty, would have been startled by this promiscuous public display.