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American Fashion Fads of the Twentieth Century

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American Fashion Fads of the Twentieth Century

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  • September 28, 2008
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American Fashion Fads of the Twentieth Century
A fad, or craze, becomes popular in a culture relatively quickly, but also loses its popularity dramatically. A fad that remains for a significant amount of time typically loses its significance in current popular culture as it evolves and becomes accepted into a society's everyday culture. In the past hundred years, fashion fads have been characterized by politics, popular movies, music and famous celebrities. Most fads just wither and quickly fad away, but do they quietly wait to be resurrected by another generation.

With the turn of the nineteenth century, fashions continued with much of the same the look of the 1800s. Women wore long skirts, long sleeves, high necks, and high button shoes. However, big changes were on the horizon, as many women were going to work outside the home and wanted a new independence. The ready-to-wear industry was blossoming and the eager and skilled work force, made up of immigrants flooding into America supplied the needed ingredient. The wearing of skirts and shirts that meet at the waist quickly became popular. This two piece outfit was called the Gibson Girl look. White linen with embroidery was spreading widely, but a new fabric, rayon, the first of the synthetic, technological miracle fabrics, produced at low cost and called "artificial silk," was important. It fell into disfavor for several decades but has made a comeback at the end of the century. Undergarments, including corsets to cinch the waist, were figure forming and confining. 3

The 1910s saw the start of World War I and the first American fashion show in 1914, as Paris was in the midst of war. In 1911, the lampshade tunic was popular. It was high waisted and stiffened to stand out with a slim skirt underneath. In 1912, the high-waisted Grecian dress and the Grecian hairstyle (hair drawn back to a small knot at the nape of the neck with curls on the side) were common. After war was declared in 1914, skirts became...