Such Smart Company

"When she asked her brother, he made no objection, but undertook to put them all up for a night, and so on Saturday morning the eight o'clock express carried Madame Tellier and her companions in a second-class carriage. As far as Beuzeville they were alone, and chattered like magpies, but at that station a couple got in. The man, an old peasant, dressed in a blue blouse with a turned-down collar, wide sleeves tight at the wrist, ornamented with white embroidery, wearing an old high hat with long nap, held an enormous green umbrella in one hand, and a large basket in the other, from which the heads of three frightened ducks protruded.
"Peasant in a Blue Smock," Paul Cézanne, 1892 or 1897.
Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.
The woman, who sat up stiffly in her rustic finery, had a face like a fowl, with a nose that was as pointed as a bill. She sat down opposite her husband and did not stir, as she was startled at finding herself in such smart company.

There was certainly an array of striking colours in the carriage. Madame Tellier was dressed in blue silk from head to foot, and had on a dazzling red imitation French cashmere shawl. Fernande was puffing in a Scotch plaid dress, of which her companions had laced the bodice as tight as they could, forcing up her full bust. Raphaële, with a bonnet covered in feathers, so that it looked like a bird's nest, had on a lilac dress with gold spots on it, and there was something Oriental about it that suited her Jewish face. Rosa had on a pink skirt with large flounces, and looked like a very fat child, an obese dwarf; while the two Pumps looked as if they had cut their dresses out of old flowered curtains dating from the Restoration." (53)

de Maupassant, Guy. "Madame Tellier's Establishment" in The Best Short Stories. Hertfordshire, UK: Wordsworth Classics, 1997 [1881].

de Maupassant has so many great descriptions of rural or "peasant" folk in these stories, I wish I could recount them all. Maybe someone has written about them for the academy?

I wonder if the rural passengers could identify the profession of their fellow-passengers by their colorful, enthusiastic dress, or if they were overwhelmed by the sight of it alone? Most of their finery I can imagine, but the last two dresses sound like a great challenge for a costume designer....