The fashion canvas of the 18th century changed radically as the 19th century began and simpler, lighter brushstrokes were applied. Fashion in the first two decades mimicked classical Grecian drapery with its fluid lines. Bodices were minimal, cut to end under the bust thereby achieving a high waist that defined the silhouette. Necklines were predominantly low. Sleeves could be long or short. The fiddle-back bodice, with side, back and shoulder seams that were placed to form a diamond shape, was typical of this period. The use of tiny piping to finish seams began in this decade. Dresses generally opened in the front, with pins or drawstrings as the closures, while the skirts of the dresses had side openings, if any at all. The desired effect was one of simplicity. White was the most popular color and any applied trimming was used sparingly. Fabrics were lightweight, with embroidery and details that did not interrupt the aesthetic flow. Outerwear consisted of Spencer jackets (waist-length jackets named after Lord Spencer), pelisses (a type of sleeved cloak) and the ubiquitous long shawl. Fashion designers gained even more influence during this era, as people scrambled to be clothed in the latest styles. Fashion magazines emerged during this era, originally aimed at intelligent readers, but quickly capturing the attention of lower classes with their colorful illustrations and up-to-date fashion news. Even though the fashion industry was ruined temporarily in France during the Revolution, it flourished in other European countries, especially England.
From 1810 to 1820 dresses became slightly more structured with padded hems and firmer fabrics, such as twills and even some taffeta. Soft colors returned to fashion after a 10-year absence. Sleeves began to grow fuller at the shoulder and high waists endured throughout this period but lowered slightly as the years went by. Skirt hems widened ever so slightly. Fabric trimmings (often in the same fabric as the dress) were used extensively. Court dress for men in the early 19th century retained many features of 18th-century dress. These included breeches, a waistcoat with short skirts, and a coat with curving back fronts. The dark, figured velvet continues a fashion in evening dress that began in the 1790s
In the early years of the nineteenth century, there was a profound harmony between men’s and women’s silhouettes in dress. In the Empire style, the high waists and puffed chests of menswear match the silhouette of women’s clothing. In the 1830s, menswear accommodated the gigot sleeve of womenswear in its use of a new fullness at the sleeve cap. The typical men’s ensemble of tailcoat, waistcoat, and trousers prevailed by the 1820s and 1830s, as breeches were supplanted by long trousers.
In the 1830s, the first cross cut Gigot or Leg O’ mMtton sleeves appeared. The previous shoulder fullness dropped toward the elbow and sleeves became enormous. The waist resumed its natural position while necklines became very wide and bodice lines took on a highly distinctive V-shape. Ankle length skirts became quite full and needed several petticoats beneath for support. This produced the 19th century’s first version of an hourglass silhouette. As so often happens, when one fashion change occurs, the rationale for another is created. The very full sleeves that were the rage created the need for alternative outerwear. It was difficult to force these large sleeves into coats and so cloaks were worn. Short capes with longer front ends called pelerines become quite popular as did chemisettes (under-bodices of net or lace) for low-necked gowns. The focus was clearly on femininity. Aprons were popular accessories.
The Gothic era arrived on the scene and fashion lines wilted into drooping ringlets and dragging skirts. Sleeves lost their fullness and became fitted; shoulders were extended below their natural line and skirt hems lowered to the floor. Generally necklines were worn high during the day and wide in the evening. The skirt became very domed in silhouette, requiring yet more petticoats to achieve the desired shape. Trimmings of tucks and pleats were used to emphasize this new line. Colors shifted to darker tones and solid color fabrics were more in tune with the new solemnity. In mid-century, skirts become even fuller with horizontal flounces or tucks added to the base skirt to give it even greater width and volume. Lines shifted from the vertical to the horizontal assisted by shorter, wider bodices. A new triangular, cone-shaped silhouette emerged featuring new pagoda sleeves. Prints and patterns came to the fore for obvious reasons. The substantial expanses of fabric were crying out for visual interest which large plaids and border prints provided.
By 1855, the cage crinoline or hoop had swayed on to the scene and skirts expanded to their maximum size. Women were delighted to wear the cage as it provided relief from the weight of numerous petticoats and the plethora of undergarments that needed to be washed. The hoop was worn almost universally and could be seen on ladies, maids, the middle class and shop girls. Women working hard in fields and those scrubbing floors were some of the few exceptions. Cloaks and mantlelets remained fashionable for practical reasons – they were the only outerwear capable of covering the triangular silhouette. Shawls worked wonderfully spread out over the width of the hoop and were popular for their ornamental possibilities as well as their functional role.
The era of the skirt and it was to be 30 years before skirts were worn unhindered by support structures. The round hoop of 1860 evolved into an oval hoop by 1864. As the skirt developed, the back emphasis saw the creation of the first bustle, which had appeared by 1868. The big, soft, high and very draped bustle skirt enjoyed its popularity for 8 years.In the 1860s, the bodice waist became slightly short but the dropped shoulders remained. Sleeves narrowed and although fitted at the wrist, a little width was available at the elbow. Square yoke lines were often seen for day. These were created with braid, fringe or even developed as a separate piece that could be removed for evening wear, leaving a lower, square neckline. To emphasize the wide neckline on evening dresses, Bertha collars following the décolleté were made of pleated fabric, ruffles, or lace. In fact fringe, braid and lace were in their element and widely used. Fabric stayed lightweight with lawn, taffeta and silk and wool blends popular. Dresses tended to be made of one fabric but with lace or trim for interest.
n the 1870s plain, checked and striped trousers were fashionable wear with morning coats. Stripes were particularly popular as they gave the impression of height, especially if they were cut fairly straight to the ankle like this pair which are strapped under the foot to keep the line. They were difficult to cut correctly as the stripes had to run straight down the leg and match at the seams and the best tailors employed specialist trouser cutters.
In this example the tailor has positioned the fabric on the bias to give sufficient room for the seat while cleverly matching the stripes in an inverted ‘V’ shape. The bias given to the seat seam was known as the ‘seat angle’. Two rising points cut in the top at the centre back accommodate the metal brace buttons which are stamped with the manufacturer’s name, E. Parkin & Sons, Sheffield. Less care has been taken to align the fabric here, probably because it was concealed under the coat. In the early 1870s the shoulders were allowed to return to the position nature intended. In 1876-78 the long line cuirass bodice appeared. This reached to the hips in all its molded, whale-boned glory. Day bodices had high necklines and fitted sleeves with pleated or ruffled cuffs at the wrists. The new look for evening was three-quarter length sleeves with a square neckline. In 1876, although the amount of skirt drapery remained constant (if not even more complex), the bustle foundation disappeared and a very small hoop was worn, primarily to keep the mass of fabric away from the feet. Fabrics were light in color and weight with favored fabrics being cotton, silk-taffeta and light wool. The problem of fitting outerwear over bustles was solved as three-quarter length cloaks and Dolman mantles (a short capelet with wide sleeves that were quite restrictive) began to make an appearance.
Popular demand brought back the bustle in 1883, but with changes. It was now worn at a lower placement with a narrower width. Dresses worn over this new frame were sturdier, being constructed in heavier fabrics such as velvet, satin and wool. Colors were darker with bottle green, deep wine, navy blue and black coming to the fore. Mercifully cotton and linen were used for summer. Drapery was harder and considerably more rigid than in the 1870s. 1880 was a decade of severely tight and restrictive corsetry that was worn (or endured) under dresses with long boned bodices, tight sleeves and high necks. On the surface a very modest and even prudish look, this line was so torso defining that a woman’s shape could hardly go unnoticed. Dresses could weigh 15 – 20 pounds. Skirts were almost always layered and draped, often with an apron front and a trained back. Pleating was everywhere, both in skirt construction and in trimming.
In 1889 the bustle began to fade, possibly joined by its wearers! By 1891 just a tiny pad remained. The gathers at the back of the skirt remained until 1900. With the decline of the bustle, sleeves began to grow and the 1830s hourglass revival was well underway. Sleeves ballooned to proportions never seen before or indeed since – reaching their height in 1895-96. Leg O’ Mutton, Melon, Gigot and Balloon were a few of the names given to this sleeve. Skirts became flared and gored, even circular. Tiny boned bodice waists were emphasized with a point in front. Evening dresses often sported elbow length sleeves. Silhouette slimmed and elongated considerably in 1897. Sleeves began to reduce in size and skirts were fashioned to be slim over the hips. Bodices began to have fullness at the front, which developed into the pigeon breast or monobosom shape of the early 20th century. Necklines rose even higher, supported by very high boned collars.
By the 1890s, most men’s coats were mass produced and distributed directly to retail stores across the US, although the wealthiest still dabbled in habdashery. Sack coats were the preferred pick, especially as the 1900s progressed, but other styles were still sold in smaller quantities and usually favored by the older generation. Regardless of the style, coats were typically tightly fitted through the body and sleeves, which were kept short to allow shirt cuffs to show. Coats and vests were both buttoned to the neckline and featured very small lapels and ties. Colors were dark, and a man was safe, sartorially speaking, in a black three-piece suit.
Vests followed coat styling with high necklines and slim cut lapels. Most often a part of the three piece suit for day wear, a vest was one of the few allotments for color for a gentleman so inclined. If the pants were a different color, then the vest would most often match the coat. The exception to this tightly styled collar and lapel was formal evening wear that featured a low cut U or V shape so that the snowy white shirt front would be visible. Vests followed coat styling with high necklines and slim cut lapels. Most often a part of the three piece suit for day wear, a vest was one of the few allotments for color for a gentleman so inclined. If the pants were a different color, then the vest would most often match the coat. The exception to this tightly styled collar and lapel was formal evening wear that featured a low cut U or V shape so that the snowy white shirt front would be visible. Trousers began featuring a slimmer silhouette and were often shorter than previously worn. While monochromatic three-piece suits were prolific in business and casual social settings, daywear for the sophisticated man would likely include a pair of grey-and-black striped trousers to pair with a morning coat. Most pants of this era continued to feature a button fly and suspender buttons, and knickers (buttoned or elasticized under at the knee) were popular for sporting participation.
The period between 1901 and 1910 was known as the Edwardian era after Queen Victoria’s successor, King Edward VII. It was considered a time of great change. Early 1900’s fashion was dictated by time of day and followed a general rule of morning coats till noon, lounge suits until 6 o’ clock, then evening clothes depending on the specific occasion.
A decline in restriction and the increasing influence of naturalness were the chief characteristics of the changes in women’s dress during the first ten years or so of the 20th century. While the 19th century abounded in bustles, crinolines, polonaises, dolman’s, abundant frills and furbelow’s of every description, the new century was bowing to simplicity. From the humble beginnings of the ‘walking suit’, women’s clothing designs strove – in tandem with their fight for independence, to be more practical, feminine and free-form.This was the Belle Epoch or Beautiful Era, when the world at large was at peace and in this era – creativity flourished in music, art and design. With London occasionally raising its head above the parapet, it was really a game of tennis between New York and Paris. On the American side, a well known name was Lucille Ltd [ Lady Duff Gordon – a survivor of the Titanic and on the French side – Paul Poiret. Before the 1900’s, women’s corsets were boned instruments of torture, that belong more in the Tower of London than on a woman’s body. While the waists, by today’s standards, were still impossibly tiny ; the new straight front replaced the skewered waist-bone, and when it was found that it improved the natural grace of a woman’s movement, it was quickly adopted and thus in response, skirts became softer and made of more supple materials, though still fitted tightly to below the knee and then spread into a flowing train.
The new silhouette was a softer shape of the tea dress. It had evolved into soft evening wear that included straight vertical lines and a high waist. These dresses would have been a lot comfier to wear as they were a lot more casual and let you relax more when compared to previous clothing like corsets and Hobble skirts from the 1900’s. It was Paul Poiret who was responsible for changing the way women dressed and led them to a much more comfortable way of dressing. Men’s fashions did not change dramatically during the first years of the 20th century. Knee-length overcoats, especially for driving, were popular during the ealry 1900s. Long neckties began to be worn with suits. The trousers were still straight, uncreased and uncuffed
By 1911 the straight front of the corset, with its move towards health, and the increasing charms of naturalness opened all eyes at last to the attractiveness of slenderness. Modern Priscilla reported in 1911 that “This season the straight up-and-down silhouette is the fashionable one, the aim being to give the effect of an un-corseted figure.”. Post Impressionism and The Ballet Russes. Two events occurred that quietly began to shake the foundations of the fashion world. In 1910 Roger Fry’s Post Impressionist exhibition and then following his 1906 Russian Art exhibition – Serge Diaghilev‘s Ballet Russes opened to great acclaim in London in 1911. the production of Scheherazade – with its swirling dervish costumes designed by Leon Bakst – inspired Paul Poiret to such an extent that he often claimed to have ‘ liberated’ women single-handedly with his new ‘looser costumes’. As for men’s fashion in the 1910, choosing a suit the editors of the Men’s Togs Catalog of 1910 warn buyers “In selecting a fashion, however, careful consideration should be given to the fact that extreme novelty styles are suitable only for young men, and that double-breasted styles look best on slender forms. Corpulent men should adhere strictly to stripe effects in fabrics.”
The suffragettes had a major turning point in 1912. They began to use militant tactics like chaining themselves to railings. They wore main stream fashion and wore the colours of white, purple and green. These colours stood for purity, dignity and hope.
The influence of the First and Second World war on women’s fashion is seismic to say the least. During the First World war, women worked in factories, drove ambulances, tended the wounded in field hospitals, and by necessity, rearranged their wardrobes to suit. Skirts became even shorter, hair was either tied up or cropped, and fashion designers were for a time, out-paced by the march of history itself. Tailored suits with gentle waists and easy movement became the norm and increasingly demanded by women. The first sportswear and genuinely feminine swimwear began to appear after 1918. New American synthetic materials such as rayon and later nylon, were for a time not openly welcomed by the old guard of fashion houses. But young guns like Coco Chanel and Madame Vionnet saw a distinct advantage to the idea of mass production – the possibility that all women, regardless of income, could be glamorous and fashionable.
As well as ladies being allowed to wear more comfortable, relaxed clothing like tea gowns and dresses with an empire line (Paul Poiret), men of the 1910’s to 20’s began to wear special smoking jackets. They were the masculine equivalent of the tea gown and they were made of soft fabrics which allowed a more comfortable wearer. They were often embellished or frogged. The world war did not effect the Paris Fashion Week however it did begin to effect the higher society because many male couturiers signed up for service it meant they had left women in charge
By 1915 with more and more women of all classes involved in war duty, skirt hems began to rise to the calf, and with a new circular silhouette – soon to be dubbed the war crinoline. The saying was “while the war gets longer, the skirts get shorter!”. Then came the chemise frock from Callot Soeurs reputedly inspired by earlier designs by Madeleine Vionnet who had previously worked there ]. The House of Worth, helped popularize the chemise or shift look, with its Magyar sleeves covering the upper arm, exposing the neck, and as free at the waist from corsetry as a peasants smock. A young Coco Chanel fell in love with the chemise look and adapted the dress with the Middy blouse style [ using drop waist belts ] to create the early Flapper dress. Then Jeanne Lanvin produced an even simpler model with round neck and elbow sleeves, held at the waist by a tasselled girdle, that became the beau-ideal of every woman who attempted to make a frock for the first time. It was the beginning of 1920s Flapper fashion. Coat frocks in navy or covert suiting took the place of the coat and skirt, while outdoor clothes were strongly marked with the spirit of war – effeminate versions of trench coats and other visible signs of military ethos. While peg top and barrel skirts came and went – the simple straight-line one piece frock took precedence and has dominated both day and evening wear ever since! By 1917 – women’s frocks were sleeveless, with décolletage as low as an evening gown. And evening gowns themselves now daringly exposed women’s backs. Short hair was accepted – as most women worked in some way or the other for the war effort. Swimsuits in the USA dared to change more rapidly than anywhere else. the early 1920s saw swimsuits revealing more leg and worn often with black stockings. But by 1922 the popular Jantzen sport swimwear, with its sleek body hugging design was to take the world by storm.
The essential part of a 1920s man’s wardrobe was his suit. For day, evening, office, or parties a man always wore a suit. The only exceptions were for blue collar workers, sport players or young teen and college men who dressed more casually. But even they owned suits and wore them with pride. What sets 1920s men’s suits apart from other decades are the material and fit. Suits were mostly made of thick wool or a wool tweed and pants made of wool based flannel which made them heavier than today’s suit materials but lighter than the previous decades. Suit jackets were either single or double breasted and featured 3 or 4 buttons up the front. The top button came to the center of the heart giving way to notch lapels. The highness of the suit lapels is what really sets 1920’s suits apart from suits of other eras.The fit changed from a snug slim fit in the early years to a much looser boxy fit by the 1930s. The current trend for vintage inspired menswear reflects the slimmer fit of 1918-1925. Many suits feature two sets of flap pockets which is another characteristic of 1920s suits not seen since. The colors, on the other hand, were similar to previous years: browns, blues, grey’s, and greens. Patterns were distinctive which could be solid tone or big plaids, checks and even thick stripes in the summer months (like Barbershop Quartet suits.)
Elsa Schiaparelli, an Italian fashion designer, was as an artist first and foremost, rather than a draper like Vionnet. She first burst to prominence in 1927 in Paris with her ‘white bow’ knitted sweater which was featured by Vogue in December 1927 with the caption “artistic masterpiece”. In the 1930s she continued Chanel’s idea of comfortable sweaters and cardigan jackets, but it was her suits, and evening dresses that made her name. Schiaparelli moved boldly away from Chanel’s two tone colors by her use of ‘ shocking pinks’ and other vivacious colors. She embraced the art scene with stylish deco and cubist dress patterns and clever appliques, and her friendship with Salvador Dali led to her design of the infamous shoe hat in 1937 – inspired possibly by a photo of Dali with one of his wife’s shoes perched on his head and the beautiful Tears dress. While these forays into the whimsical may have detracted somewhat from the real magnitude of her contribution to women’s fashion, the House of Schiaparelli dominated attention in the USA in the early 1930s, with her swimwear she designed the first backless swimsuit to allow women to get a more even suntan , beach pajamas and evening dresses featuring in dozens of Hollywood movies.
The 1930s came in with a bang – the Wall Street Crash. Whether it was a coincidence or not – Jean Patou’s 1929 winter collection featured a dramatic drop in hem lengths, and this has often been attributed to the crash that October. But conservatism was the only response there could be with the boom time of the 1920s over. The Flappers day was done and even wealthy folks had to start being a bit more frugal. The gamine look was out and feminine curves were back in. Cloche hats hung around till 1933 until the new French beret styles, worn at an angle, took the fashion world by storm. A more tailored, angular look appeared in skirts, with single front seams popular. Despite the recession – it was the age of Hollywood glamor,colorful fashion magazines featuring beautiful actresses wearing the ‘latest’ from the catwalk. Film costumes occasionally became hugely popular like Joan Crawfords ‘Adrian’ designed ruffle sleeved evening gowns in her film Letty Lynton.
In the 1930’s the athletic body seen in boxers and superman became the ideal men’s shape. Clothing reflected this new shape with extra broad shoulders, thin waists, and tapered legs. Initially, inspiration for menswear came from British Guard Officer’s overcoats. Their shoulder line spread past the natural shoulder to line up with the bicep. Shoulder pads helped keep the angular shoulder shape. The coat than angled down to the waist creating a V shape from neck to waist. Sleeves repeated the V shape by starting out very roomy at the shoulder and narrowing down to the wrist. Even more V shapes appear on 1930s men’s topcoats and suit coats with the appearance of very wide pointed lapels. Covering half the width of a man’s chest the lapels extended down to not the first, but the second set of a 4 button double breasted closure. The elongated lapels again emphasized the V shape. Overcoats had one unique feature that suit jackets didn’t share. The pockets were large, square, positioned rather high on the coat and closed with a button. See the topcoat above and notice how big and baggy it appears. It’s designed to beef up the man inside and make him appear larger and more masculine.
Trousers also spread farther up the waist, about 3 inches or so above the naval and hung down in long column like shapes. Pant legs cuffed at the bottom for more causal wear and were straight hemmed for more professional attire. A strong pressed pleat down the center completed the look. Most 1930s trousers were quite wide compared to today’s slim fitting trend. Formal suit pants matched the suit jacket. They came in solid colors like grey, brown, navy blue as well as patterns of stripes and plaids. For casual wear pants had more diversity. Larger plaids, stripes, and checks were popular with the youth. Lighter tans and white were perfect for summer while darker shades of deep navy, chocolate brown and black were ideal for winter.
Dress shirts were not very different in the 1930s than they are today. They button down with french cuffs and a straight pointed collar. Because suits lapels were wide so were shirt collars. Dress shirt colors came in tonal stripes, plaid, checks, windowpane and solid pastel or medium tone colors, While the classic button down dress shirt remained a staple in a 30’s mens wardrobe, a new casual shirt started to make headlines. The Polo shirt came into vogue and they haven’t left the fashion world since. Bush shirts were another new invention although they had been around for many years. Indiana Jones explored tombs and caves in this style of shirt along with safari hunters and jungle adventurers. Bush shirts were white with short sleeves and had 4 patch pockets on the front. A wide belt was worn around the shirt at the high waist. The most similar modern day Bush shirt is the Guayabera shirt- very popular in Latin American countries.
In the 1920s and 1930s, it was all about ‘ the latest Paris designs’ and pattern books like McCalls and Pictorial were bursting with patterns inspired after French designers. When France was occupied by the Nazi regime, the fashion houses of Schiaparelli, Chanel and Vionnet closed down, whilst newer designers like Jacques Fath remained open. The archives of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture were handed over to the occupiers and a serious attempt was made to move Haute Couture to Berlin. As Chanel had learned in the 1914-18 war, when fabric was hard to get, hats were the next best thing, and once again, millinery shops strove to keep French ladies glamorous during the worst times of occupation. The top milliners included Simone Naudet and Pauline Adam -‘Paulette’ [ famous for her draped turbans ] who strove – in retrospect, perhaps controversially – to maintain glamor on the streets of Nazi occupied Paris with their innovative designs from materials that were normally considered to be scrap – like paper and muslin cloth. During the war – fashion had never used so little fabric; short sleeves and knee length skirts in close fitting styles which accentuated the female silhouette, all fulfilled the edict that ‘necessity was the mother of invention’ The use of synthetics like Rayon – first introduced in the 1920s as the first replacement to silk stockings – took off in tandem. Certainly in the early 1940s, the war on both sides of the Atlantic had a massive impact on the direction of fashion. The early 1940s fashion was dominated by the Americans, though many great designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli had left their native France and moved stateside to continue their work in a more ‘democratic’ – and of course – ‘lucrative’ American market. With the glamor of Hollywood film and an abundant supply of glossy magazines like American Vogue – with which to market their designs – the ‘American look’ – with broad shoulder pads, pleated skirts, up-do war hairstyles and increasing use of makeup gave American women for a time the pedestal.
1940s men’s fashion, either for day, sport, or evening were styled to make a man feel “larger than life.” During the 1941-1945 WWII fabric rations limited cloth to make suits but not style. Middle class men chose basic business suits that haven’t changed dramatically since the beginning of the century. The notorious Zoot Suit with its bright colors, baggy legs and long jackets was a complete deviation from the norm- an underground rebellion worn by inner city youth. What makes 1940s men’s fashion unique to the decade is the cut of the clothes, the patterns, and stylistic details that demonstrate one’s patriotic support of his country.
1940s suit pockets could not have flaps, trousers could not be more the 19 inches around or be cuffed, and suits were sold without vests (waistcoats.) The cuffed look was so popular that men quickly figured out you could purchase longer length pants and cuff them at home. In Britain the clothing restrictions were harsher. Jackets could not have pleated backs, metal zippers or buttons, feature raglan sleeves or have half belts. Most men kept their clothing from the 1930’s and wore them through the early 40’s. It was a sign of support for the war to be seen in your pre-war suits. War time clothing influenced men’s fashion design after the war by coping or modifying uniforms into civilian clothes. Trench coats, bomber jackets, knit undershirts, pea coats, chino pants and aviator glasses all have roots in WW2 military clothing. With so much military surplus available after the war civilians would buy and wear military clothing for several more years. The improvement in machinery, textiles and manufacturing of military clothing made post war ready to wear civilian clothing a booming industry.
The biggest influence war time restrictions had on men was the further introduction of casualness. Men were tired of scratchy uniforms and confining suits. The freedom casual clothes brought to men were a big sigh of relief. Hawaiian shirt, for example were worn all day and even nights in the summer. Strict codes of dress were impossible to enforce when the majority of people couldn’t afford a large wardrobe, even after the war ended. ronically the very clothing that caused such turmoil during the war years, the zoot suit, was the single piece of fashion that influenced men’s post war clothing. Longer, looser, jackets, double pleated pants, big hats, and even wider ties made their way into late 40’s men’s fashions. Men were eager to put the war behind them and embrace the clothing they were previously forbidden to wear
During the ‘40s, suits were still every day wear for men, whether they were going to an office job, to a picnic, or out to dinner. Men’s 1940s suits were usually made from thick wool, worsted wool, or tweed but during the war synthetic rayon blended with wool was usually used instead. Colors were muted – black, navy, grey, dark brown, tan and medium blue. During the summer lighter fabric colors were medium grey, brown, medium blue and tan in the warmer months. Tweed, herringbone, check, and overplaids were also very popular suiting patterns. Wide chalk stripes were also a classic ‘40s suit pattern. The single breasted jacket was had 2-3 buttons, wide padded shoulders, patch or slit pockets, and tapered into the waist slightly. The lapels were wide notch or peak with rounded edges. The width made a man look bigger even though the cut was narrower than the 30s. The double breasted jacket was even more popular in the 1940s for the extra width it caused, although sales were restricted during the war years. Waistcoats were considered a wasteful item in war time and after, most men preferred not wearing a vest with their suits at all. It was cooler and more comfortable without them. Besides matching the suit, vests were V neck cut with pockets on either side.
The suit trousers were usually flat-fronted or with single pleats. They were worn at the high waist with a 3 inch waist band. Trouser legs were wide around the ankle which are the opposite of today’s “skinny” suits. Usually they were either straight hemmed at the bottom as required during the war or having 2 inch trouser cuff (turnups) which men preferred.
The collared dress shirt was worn with suits or by themselves with a pair of slacks. These shirts were usually made from cotton with an attached, large, pointed collar. Shirt lengths were short by today’s standards and worn tucked in.
Christian Dior’s “New Look” of 1947 continued to influence the fashions of the 1950s. Unpadded, rounded shoulders, shapely bust lines, closely-defined waistlines, and fully, billowy skirts define the new, more feminine wardrobe. Blouses, jeans, and long, narrow skirts were also quite popular. The dirndl dress, either sleeveless or with small puff sleeves and having a billowy skirt, became an extremely popular style. This type of casual attire was the hallmark of 1950s fashions. The full, billowy skirt and natural waistline was quite popular for a number of dresses during the 1950s.
Many dresses were sleeveless or had long, wide collars and V-necks. The blouse was fashionable during the 1950s, worn with skirts or pants. Many blouses were sleeveless or had very short sleeves.
Men didn’t have many workplace choices for color. Dark blue, dark brown, and charcoal. Even the ties, traditionally men’s flamboyant touch, were uniform and dark. Some time would have to pass before men began to reclaim the sartorial splendor which has been historically theirs. 1950s men’s fashion look was often called “Ivy League” or preppy and was definitely the preferred look if your date was meeting your Dad for the first time. When men weren’t wearing jackets or suits they were wearing sweaters or vests. Some businesses would allow the man to wear a sweater with a tie, sort of a 1950s “casual Friday” thing.
Women’s 1960s fashion was an extreme style and attitude from the start of the decade to the end. In the early years the fashion idol was Jackie Kennedy with her perfectly white pearls and tailored suit dresses. By the the middle of the decade supper model Twiggy had women freeing their minds and bodies into clothing that didn’t require any extra thought or effort. From modest to “there is no such thing as too short,” 1960s fashion was in many ways like the 1920s flapper revolution. But it didn’t happen overnight. Jackie Kennedy’s style was clean, simple, well fitted, with perfectly matched accessories. She wore dresses without collars, and jackets that buttoned only with one large top button. She wore sensible low heel shoes (although many women still preferred high heels.) She was the last woman to wear hats, a pill box hat, as necessary fashion. Jackie O’ put a lot of care into her look and women in the USA and abroad copied her style with enthusiasm.
after her husband’s assassination, Jackie was no longer in the public eye. Women had to find a new 1960s fashion idol to be inspired by. Brigitte Bardot was that woman. She was Jackie’s opposite. Jackie was put together, simple and modest. Brigitte was tacky, cheap, bold, and even silly. Her 1959 pink gingham wedding dress with white lace trim was so unexpected that gingham and lace quickly became the new trend. Mary Quant was another 1960s fashion influence. Her style moved away from “grown up fashion” to playful “youth” driven. Her shift dresses were short, very short, her prints were bold and colorful “mod” prints. Her fashion, her personality, set the tone for the rest of the 1960s as “fashion-is-fun.”
By 1972 it was normal to see a man in low-rise bell bottoms and platform shoes. This outfit would have been heartily laughed at just ten years before.Men’s clothing got tighter and tighter. A large portion of the clothes from this era were made of polyester or a blend of cotton and polyester. Later in the decade, velour and terry cloth became a very popular choice of fabric for men’s shirts.Two very different types of suits were loved by men of the 1970s. First, the leisure suit, which was introduced around 1972, exploded in popularity after John Travolta’s smash hit “Saturday Night Fever.”
The early 1970s fashion scene was very similar to 1969, just a bit more flamboyant. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that a fashion revolution occurred in the 1970s.Polyester was the material of choice and bright colors were everywhere. Men and women alike were wearing very tight fitting pants and platform shoes. By 1973, most women were wearing high cut boots and low cut pants. Early 1970s fashion was a fun era. It culminated some of the best elements of the 60s and perfected and/or exaggerated them. Some of the best clothing produced in the 1970s perfectly blended the mods with the hippies.Just when it seemed pants couldn’t flare any more, the flare was almost gone. By the late 1970s the pant suit, leisure suit and track suit was what the average person was sporting. Every woman had a cowl neck sweater in her closet and every man had a few striped v-neck velour shirts.Tunics, culottes and robes were also very popular. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which dresses were meant to be worn at home, and which ones were for a night on the town
Chest hair, medallions, polyester, butterfly collars, bell bottoms, skin-tight t-shirts, sandals, leisure suits, flower patterned dress shirts, sideburns and, yes, tennis headbands.There is one common theme throughout fashion in the 1970s: pants were tight fitting. And it is probably the first full decade in which women could be seen wearing pants in every walk of life.It’s also hard to miss the fact that color almost completely disappeared by 1979. Earth tones, grays, whites and blacks were back in full force, as people had apparently tired of the super bright tones of the early 1970s. fashion in the 1970s changed drastically from the beginning to the end. But the seventies certainly can’t be compared to the sixties in that sense. styles from 1971 are certainly more similar to styles in 1969 than 1979, for sure. If you want to think about in terms of decades, you could say the early 70s were very “late 60s” and the late seventies were very “early eighties.”In the beginning of the decade, women’s styles were very flamboyant. Extreme, bright colors were in high demand and long, flowing skirt and pants were everywhere. In the winter. In the summer, women wore very short shorts and skin tight t-shirts. Oh, and you can’t forget about the roller skates.With every year, pants were flaring wider and wider. It was common for a pair of women’s wide-flare slacks to have 32″ around the bottom of the leg hem. Soon the flare exploded into bell bottoms and it couldn’t go anywhere but smaller from there.Another trend was emerging and soon took over the fashion world: suits. Women were wearing pants in the sixties, but not all of them. By the time the 70s rolled around, women were wearing pants in every walk of life. Female executives were wearing business suits with pants, women at home were wearing jeans. Women’s fashion in the mid-to-late 1970s was dominated by suits. Leisure suits, pant suits, jump suits and track suits (also known as warm-up suits) were worn from coast to coast. That’s not to say that dresses, blouses, skirts and other popular garments weren’t worn, it’s just that they weren’t as important to defining the style of the times.Hats were not popular for everyday women anymore. Jewelry was nice, but not the main course. Hair was long and natural. Often times women could do their hair in minutes instead of hours.Above all, women could finally wear whatever they wanted. Sure, gender roles still played a part in wardrobe choices, but compared to previous generations, women’s fashion in the 1970s was nothing short of revolutionary.
From dresses to fabrics to hairstyles, virtually nothing went unchanged. But it wasn’t that way immediately.Catalogs from 1980 don’t differ a whole lot from 1983, but once you hit 1985.In the early 1980s, women preferred soft fabrics and neutral colors. It was almost as if color was the enemy and beige was the only option. Don’t get us wrong; brown, tan and pale orange were in style as well. The neon that made 1980s fashion so famous had yet to become the norm.Around that time most every woman owned a turtleneck or six, and scarves made a huge comeback in the early 80s. Silk blouses were all the rage throughout the entire decade.Pants were a very popular option for all women, and many styles were sold. Denim jeans were hot, arriving in styles with wild bleaching, dyeing and even some really expensive designer jeans came with pre-made holes in them. This very fact made youth fashion the butt of many jokes with the older set. Most dress pants were high-waisted, pleated and snug fitting. Throughout the decade, elaborate licensed prints featuring cartoon and movie characters were much more popular than in decades before.The mid- to late-eighties were a period of experimentation. From fabrics that changed color to clothes meant to be worn backwards, nothing was off limits. Bright neon colors were very popular and rocking brand names was more important than ever. Belts and bracelets were the most vital accessories in the wardrobe.
Women and girls fashion in the 1990s is very distinct. While not quite as loud as the eighties, the nineties took that attitude and tried to be a little smarter and a little classier. Sometimes designers succeeded, sometimes they didn’t.Some common items of clothing from the 1990s: black leggings with oversized sweater, low heel shoes, flannel shirts, denim everything, t-shirts, sweatpants, skirts, Birkenstocks, solid colors, silk shirts, turtlenecks (under cardigans or sweaters), plain white Keds and army surplus clothing to name a few.Like most decades, fashion changed somewhat drastically from the beginning of the nineties to the end. The early nineties started off exactly like 1989, but by 1993, the 1991 look was “so 80s.” Simply put, nearly everyone had completely revamped their style by 1994.By the middle of the decade, many young women were wearing the same clothes their moms wore in high school. The seventies look was really hot, with teens wearing tie dye shirts, bell-bottom jeans and long, straight hair. Homemade jewelry and, to a lesser degree, self-designed clothing, was very popular.By then, the eighties had become a bad thing. Hair spray was eighties. Too much makeup was eighties. Flashy clothing was eighties. Anything eighties was considered a bad thing. Most women didn’t want wild patterns and colors, they wanted simple and humble. Solid colors, preferably subdued was the way to go.As the decade progressed, fashion became more similar to what you saw throughout the 2000s. The grunge look faded away and made a comeback. Tight clothing was worn again and glamour was ever slowly inching its way back into the fashion world. Which was great news for fashion designers, who had grown tired trying to make flannel look good
Types of jackets
The Pea Coat
The pea coat is a thigh length double-breasted coat popularized by the navy, designed to shield seamen against the biting chill of the open sea. To this day, its nautical origins have stuck and many modern pea coats have anchors engraved on the buttons. A pea coat features a double-breasted button closure with a wide notched collar and lapel. Traditionally these coats are made of heavy, scratchy melton wool in either navy or black. As the years have gone by the wool used in making pea coats has softened and the colors available have broadened. The pea coat allows the wearer to transition from formal to casual with ease. Shrug it on over a T-shirt and jeans and it instantly adds a component of laid-back sophistication. Wear it with a button-up shirt and a pair of slacks and it fits in seamlessly. If you’re just beginning your coat collection, a black pea coat is the perfect place to start; it’s timeless, versatile, and warm.
The Trench Coat
Trench coats trace their roots back to World War I, where they were named after the very trenches they were worn in. Thomas Burberry designed trench coats for the British military and later implemented his own special water-repellent fabric known as gabardine. This new fabric was sturdy, lightweight, weatherproof, and could easily be worn over everyday wear. Because of gabardine’s numerous positive attributes, the trench coat transitioned easily from military attire and into mainstream fashion.The trench coat is traditionally a long coat that extends to the shins, is double-breasted with wide lapels, and is belted at the waist. A key characteristic of the trench is the numerous details in its construction. A wide vent extends across the back of the coat to allow for more movement and the shoulders are often graced with decorative epaulets. Belting on the cuffs is also common as well as a turndown collar, usually worn flipped upwards. Although a double-breasted closure is traditional, single-breasted versions are also available.Trench coats pair well with both casual and formal attire and make a great all-weather all-occasion coat. Whether you’re an aspiring heartthrob, à la Humphrey Bogart, or a mysterious sophisticate, à la Inspector Clouseau, the trench coat is an iconic and a solid coat choice.
Due to the fact that an overcoat is intended to be worn over a standard suit, it tends to feature a wider cut. Generally, an overcoat is constructed of high-quality wool fabrics that are designed to withstand harsh weather. Its original construction includes a single-breasted closure, notched collar, flap pockets, and a welt pocket at the chest. When an overcoat is lighter in weight and intended for less extreme weather conditions, it is often called a topcoat. When it is heavier in weight it is sometimes called a greatcoat. The overcoat is simple in style with little ornamentation. This simplicity means that it should pair well with most suits. Because this coat is intended for more formal affairs, a dark or neutral color may prove to be a more versatile investment. Though subtle in its styling, this classic coat has graced the shoulders of some of history’s most intriguing characters. Al Capone, for one, was known to don this number over his classic pinstripe suits during his devious dealings in Chicago.
The Car Coat
The car coat was initially designed to keep drivers warm from the wind while driving old fashioned open cars. Its slight A-line cut and wide cuffs were intended to allow a full range of motion while driving. The car coat is customarily made of heavy wool and features a flat front placket over its closure to shield from wind and rain. A typical car coat is thigh-length with a straight collar and two welt pockets. The type of closure varies between a zipper and buttons, though buttons are most common. The car coat is a utilitarian coat that isn’t heavy on the details but gives stylish minimalism to any outfit. It can easily be dressed up or down.
The Duffle Coat
The duffle coat adopted its name from the rough and tough wool fabric it was originally made of: duffel. Like many coats, the duffle coat owes its popularity in modern day fashion to its military origins. Duffle coats were a garment of the British Royal Navy during World War I and II and its iconic toggle closure was designed to be able to be fastened and unfastened while wearing gloves out at sea. This coat usually has three to four toggles known as “walrus teeth” that are fastened with leather or rope loops. Its oversized hood was originally designed to allow room for a naval cap to remain on underneath. This coat also features a buttonable strap at the neck and two patch pockets. Besides the toggles, a defining characteristic of the duffle coat is its fuzzy tartan lining. Modern versions of this coat usually end at about hip-length, although more original versions extend to the knee. This coat is usually worn casually because its bright characteristics would drastically dress down a formal outfit.
When it comes to weathering the elements, the parka is king. It was initially conceived by the Caribou Inuit to cope with extreme Arctic climates during hunting expeditions. Back then, parkas were constructed of caribou or seal skin. The parkas of today are made from lightweight synthetic materials and lined with down. These updated materials have added bulk to the original design and contribute to the modern parka’s puffy look. It is not uncommon to hear a parka referred to as a “puffer” coat. A parka ranges in length from waist-length to knee-length and generally features a large and fur-lined hood and a zipper closure. Though some use the words “parka” and “anorak” interchangeably, this is inaccurate. An anorak is technically a pull-over jacket as opposed to the parka’s open-front coat structure. The parka creates a sporty look best suited for casual attire and makes for a fantastic outer shell to your other cold-weather layers.
The Cocoon Coat
The Women’s Wool-Blend Cocoon Coat is a stylish way to keep yourself warm during the winter season. The coat is a mixture of different materials, and the breakdown is as follows: Fifty-five percent polyester, forty-one percent wool, and four percent other fabric. It has full-zip closure with snap-over placket and comes in two colors, pink and gray. The coat is very easy to pair with anything due to its neutral colors to choose from. The funnel collar and the faux flaps are really stylish. My only problem is that the fabric is too rough. Despite this, it’s quite a chic coat to wear in any occasion, yet it’s warm.
A blazer is a type of jacket resembling a suit jacket, but cut more casually. A blazer is generally distinguished from a sportcoat as a more formal garment and tailored from solid color fabrics. Blazers often have naval-style metal buttons to reflect their origins as jackets worn by boating club members.
The windbreaker first became popular as an item of informal outerwear in the 1970s, but its history can be traced back almost 500 years. It is similar to, and descended from, the parkas worn by Inuits in arctic conditions. In fact, the word “anorak” is derived from the Danish interpretation of the Inuit word annoraaq.
The first denim jacket was created circa 1880 by denim legend and Levi’s founder Levi Strauss. Strauss is credited with designing the first-ever jeans in 1870 as a durable, breathable utility garment for cowboys, railroad engineers, and miners to wear during the gold rush out West.
Coco Chanel first crafted the boxy structured tweed jacket in 1950, designed to enable “women to move with ease, to not feel like they’re in costume,” she said. Then, when designer Karl Lagerfeld took the reins of the brand in 1983, he reinvented the style for generation after generation, by cropping it, dying it, embellishing it and beyond.