Historic Fashions: Turning the Centuries
As the centuries turn, we look to the past for comparisons of where we
have been and what was worn. The following timeline is from Calendar
2000: Historic Fashions Turning the Centuries.
17th Century Turns...1690 - 1710
is the mirror of history. It reflects political, social, and economic
changes, rather than mere whimsy.
Louis XIV, 1690
restores its fashion capital after their Civil War
XIV reigns in France and dictates appearances from his exclusive
colonists bring their fashions to North America
cloth and clothing is made by hand
18th Century Turns... 1780 - 1810
simplify their fashions.
White muslin dresses suggestive of classical drapery are the
fashion for women. Average skirt circumference is 104"
of this sheer fabrics made possible by the new spinning and
weaving technology. Chemises, ca. 1800-1807, Museum of
City of New York.
Bertin, Marie Antionette's mantuamaker creates elaborate and expensive
creations for the queen contributing to the crown's bankruptcy
Crompton invents a machine, the "mule", which spins high
quality cotton yarn in large enough quantities for the weavers
Washington's inauguration in New York City - the capital of the new
Revolution brings a fashion revolution as Frenchmen adopt the simpler,
working class styles. Fashion as an organized industry ceases to exist
in France from 1793-1797 and the professionals flee to other European
cities, like London
Whitney patents the cotton gin
production is primarily by machine while clothing is still made by
are the main accessory for the thin muslin dresses.
Revolutionary Paris with Napoleon as emperor moves fashion away from
the simplicity of Greek dress to magnificent European style dress
for women. Men maintain their conservative styles
Howe patents the sewing machine
Frederick Worth opens his shop in Paris as the first true house of
19th Century Turns... 1890 - 1910
manufacturers tout all of the 'wonderful advancements and improvements'
made possible by abundance of textiles, large American production
labor force, and new cost-saving factory machines
dresses are more timeless yet still reflect period aesthetics".
Wedding Dress, 1905, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Hillwood
Girl look popularized by Charles Dana Gibson, American illustrator
tubular skirts and little puff sleeves inspired from early 1800s style
sleeves in vogue - an 1830s revival
Bazar reports that "the huge melon shaped sleeves are absolutely
out of date" and suggests that "the eye becomes accustomed
to whatever is in vogue"
blue serge suit is the classless "uniform for men"
craze….many clothing manufacturers produce clothing for a specific
the French Revolution male clothing was monotonous with one exception…'sporting
clothes', tennis and outing suits, skeleton coats and vests, flannel
trousers, yachting suits, and bicycle suits
Victoria dies ending the 70 year Victorian Era…Edward VII is crowned
starting the Edwardian Era, the height of sheer femininity in women's
corset shapes women's bodies with an extra long front throwing the
hips, back, and the bust forward
Edwardian Lady is assembled rather than dressed, with jewels, lace,
Paris dominates fashions
More vertical silhouette replaces the S curve shape. Massive
hats with plumes and feathers adorn the heads above the more
tailored day dresses and walking suits. Dresses, 1907-1910,
Missouri Historical Society
are very important garments in a woman's wardrobe
Era ends with Edward VII's death
Every article of female and male clothing can be purchased ready-made.
Within years, shopping for clothing off the rack becomes customary
Study Historic Fashion?
Clothing is culture manifested at the most personal level. By studying
what people wore and why, we gain a fuller knowledge of a specific
time and place.
How do we know? Costume historians use primary resources
of extant garments like these featured in the calendar
plus prints, portraits, photographs, letters, diaries, books,
magazines, wills, inventories, and oral histories.
Want to know more? Public and private costume collections
preserve past fashions for current and future knowledge about
the art and science of dress and appearance. Look for their exhibitions
and programs. The
Costume Society of America is an association for the serious
study of dress and appearance.
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