Many of you already know that I love vintage fashion and collect historical gowns. One of the most fun parts of writing about my historical heroines is getting to dream up what they would have worn in a given situation. I’ve done my fair share of research into women’s clothing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and even taught a room full of writers about the best way to undress a victorian lady.
If there’s one thing all this research has taught me, it’s that women’s fashion evolves constantly, and what’s in today will almost definitely be out tomorrow. Never has this been more apparent to me than the day one of my daughters, who was in high school at the time, asked me if she could borrow some of my old clothes for an 80s themed birthday party. The big shoulder pads and stirrup pants that had been a mainstay in my wardrobe not so many years ago were suddenly a comedic costume for her and her friends!
Since it’s women’s history month, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at how women’s fashions and silhouettes have evolved over the years. Scroll on to learn a bit about the trends from the 1890s to the 1920s and then let me know: which era would you have liked to live in from a fashion perspective? You can leave your thoughts here or let me know on my Facebook page.
I’ll be back next week to share more on trends from the 1930s to today!
The turn of the century was also a turning point for women’s clothing. The bustle, which had been a popular trend in the 80s, began to fade from fashion. “Balloon” sleeves became a focal point of many dresses. Tiffany Girl’s Flossie Jayne and her seamstress mother would have been experts in creating that kind of style.
During this decade, the swan-bill corset became quite popular, as did styles with high necks. This swan-bill corset had a stiff front that forced the hips back and pushed the chest out, giving women of this era a trendy “S” shape. It sounds uncomfortable, and it was!
The constricting corsets from years past went out of vogue during this era, and dressmakers began using boning not to change a woman’s shape, but to support it. Hemlines also rose above the ankle during this decade, making it easier for women to walk.
1920s - 1930s
Ah, the roaring 20s. Fashion changed drastically during this era as flappers and speakeasies came onto the scene. The fitted styles of the previous decade fell out of fashion, with women favoring a dropped waist and shorter hemlines. By the mid-20s, hemlines had crept up to--gasp!--the knee!
So what do you think? Which era would have been the most fun for you fashion-wise? Let me know over on my Facebook page and check back next week for a Part Two of this post!