Fashion Through Decades

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From the 1800’s to now the fashion of our society has changed dramatically. Ranging from the clothing to hairstyles and accessories, nothing has remained the same. In the 19th century showing skin was not an option, whereas here in the 21st century one wouldn’t be surprised if you saw a girl with close to nothing on walking down the street.

In the early 1800’s, women’s clothing styles were based on the ‘Empire silhouette.’ The Empire silhouette style consisted of dresses that were closely fitted to the torso just under the bust, falling loosely below. The beginning of the 19th century’s fashion was different than the rest of the 19th century and the ending of the 18th century. During this time, the dresses had taken away the natural shape of the waist in which took away the point of the tight fit corseting, often considered fashionable in other time periods.

Different social classes were shown through the clothing that they had worn. Among the middle- and upper-class, there would be a change of dresses between the morning/afternoon and their evening gowns. They also had different dresses for certain occasions such as a walking dress, traveling dress, dining dress etc. There were not many options to choose from and were not extremely fashionable, but it was the style and they made it work. The morning dress varied a bit from the evening dress. The morning dress had cloth covering up to the throat and down to the wrists. It was worn inside the house, and generally was plain and avoided decoration. The evening dress was a little less severe whereas the sleeves were at a length just above the elbow and the neck and shoulders bare as for delicacy. They were often extravagantly trimmed and decorated with lace, ribbons, and netting. The bared arms would be covered with long white gloves. Hairstyles were consistent through the time of the 19th century. Often, masses of curls were worn over the forehead and ears. The back longer hair was drawn up into little buns, or what they were known as then as ‘Psyche knots.’ The front hair was parted in the center and worn in tight ringlets, but they would have worn their hair in a short cropped hairstyle if there was somebody adventurous enough. Respectable women would never leave the house without a hat or a bonnet. The ‘antique head-dress, Chinese hat, Oriental inspired turban, and Highland helmet’ were popular in that time. If a bonnet was worn instead, elaborate ornamentations such as feathers and ribbons were known to be a popular decoration. On the other end, shoes consisted of thin, flat fabric which were silk or velvet. Also generally worn were leather slippers. Metal patterns were strapped onto the shoes to protect them from the rain or mud which had raised their feet an inch or so off of the ground. The period of fashion during the late 19th century was known as the late Victorian era. In this period of time, the sewing machine and dye had been invented and had changed the appearance of fashion quite a bit. The dresses had then developed narrow and sloping shoulders, low and pointed waists, and bell-shaped skirts. Under the gowns the women had worn corsets, a knee-length chemise, and layers of flounced petticoats. The evening gowns had developed a very low neckline and were now worn off the shoulder with sheer shawls and opera-length gloves. Men’s fashion had also varied throughout the 19th century. In the early 1800’s, men wore a waistcoat or vest with tight-fitting, calf length frock socks. The vests had notched collars and were finished with double points at the lowered waist. When the men had a formal event to attend, a cutaway morning coat was worn in the daytime with light trousers, and a dark tail coat in the evening with trousers. Their shirts were made of linen or cotton with low collars and normally worn with neck ties. Later on in the century, the blazer had been introduced. It was worn for sports, sailing, and other casual activities. The dinner jacket, or...
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