Fashion 1700-2000

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Monique Moskowitz
WAC 101
October, 2008
Instructor: Tom Skeen
Fashion Essay

Fashion refers to the way that people style their clothes in a particular culture. Many cultures and time periods have different ideas of what’s in fashion and what is not. In this paper I will discuss changes in men’s and women’s fashion from the 1700’s until now, as well as changes in attitudes and beliefs about cross over fashion and ultimately why I agree with Marjorie Garber that crossover fashion is dominant today. Fashion changes rapidly all the time, people are constantly creating new and upcoming fashions. Everyone has their own sense of fashion and how they like to dress; we create our own fashion by deciding what to wear everyday. Fashion trends will exist forever because as long as there are people in this world will we always need clothes to wear. Many times people wear certain clothes because they like the way it looks and feels and other times people must wear certain clothes to fulfill certain expectations our society has.

Fashion has changed greatly between men and women and this is mainly because the roles of men and women in our culture have changed dramatically overtime. In the 1700’s the fashion was much different than the fashion existing today. During the 1700’s women and men’s fashion were similar in many ways. Women and men both shared the same roles in society. They were both expected to be attractive while wearing flashy, bright, flamboyant clothing to show off their money. Women wore long dresses that were long and extravagant with very nice patterned material. The dresses were puffy at the bottom and very tight fighting up top to accentuate their small wastes. They wore their hair pulled back and showed off skin on their chest and arms. Men wore long buttoned down jackets with huge sleeves and a bow tied around their neck. Their hair was neatly combed with a hat on and their pants came down to their knees exposing their bottom legs. Back then it was considered sexy for a man to have nice calves so men showed off their calves while women flaunted their chests. Most men and women in this time period didn’t work so their lives consisted of showing off their money and competing on who wore the prettiest outfits. Most of their time was spent pursuing relationships with one another so it was very important for their physical appearance to look its best. When the early 1800’s came about fashion began to change. The French Revolution was developing which influenced the fashion change in men. The French Revolution promoted uniformity and simplicity which forced men to dress differently. In order for men to achieve uniformity men had to abolish their rich fashions by wearing simple uniforms to eliminate the difference of rich and poor. This event was considered to be the “Great Masculine Renunciation” where “man abandoned his claim to be considered beautiful” (88). Men began to work and have jobs, so their priority was no longer to look beautiful but instead to be a good worker. For the first time a “women was to enjoy the privilege of being the only possessor of beauty and magnificence” (88). It was now only the women’s job to be beautiful, since the roles of men were changing it caused their fashion trends to change as well. By supporting the revolution men wore clothes that were attainable by both the rich and poor so that everyone felt equal. They dressed in simple outfits that weren’t expensive and it also became acceptable for a man to wear the same outfit over and over again.

During the mid to late 1800’s another fashion for women evolved and the women that fallowed it were known as the Bloomers. It consisted of a short dress and Turkish pants called “bloomers”. There were very few women who participated in this fashion however the rest of the world was not ready for this new innovation. Women who were bloomers believed in dress reform and wanted to demonstrate their independency....
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