Fashion in the 1900s - A Sweet Old-fashioned Indulgence

1900s Fashion
Fashion in the 1900s took a drastic turn as the fashion industry flourished, especially in Europe. Let's take a look at some of the 1900s fashion trends that were established for men and women.
The first decade of the 1900s and up to the year 1914 was known as the Edwardian era, and this was an important period in terms of fashion. With the industrial revolution, mass production of clothes became possible, thus increasing the awareness of the latest fashion trends among men and women. What's more, people of almost every class adhered to them, even though there were different requirements for formal and informal wear, morning wear, afternoon wear, tea-time wear, sports wear, and evening wear, especially in the case of women. A look at the elements of fashion in the 1900s tells us about the trends in that era.

1900s Fashion for Women

Fashion trends for women of the early 1900s were characterized by the hourglass silhouette, where the waist was contracted with the use of a corset and the hips and bust were made to look fuller. On observing the profile of this look, one would notice the famous 'S-curve' silhouette, the trend of the day. Blouses and dresses were puffed, high-collared necklines were prevalent, and the waist was narrowed further with a belt. Women wore exceptionally long skirts and dresses, several of which even had a train.

Dresses were mostly tailor made, simply to achieve the 'perfect fit'. Trendier women ensured they were always dressed in the best and latest in fashion. Dresses were enhanced with beads, laces and net. Skirts were made of soft, flowing, fabrics like satin and velvet.
  • Informal Wear: During the summer, women wore cotton, washable dresses which were enhanced by laces and embroidery, as well as pintucks. During travel or outdoor activities, or as informal wear, women wore outfits similar to those of men, i.e., a bodice, accompanied by a shirt with a high collar.
  • Formal Wear: As formal wear, women wore tweed or woolen suits, that comprised an ankle length skirt with a matching jacket. The fashion trends demanded that these be worn in style, adorned with a hat and the fanciest furs.
  • Hats: No outfit in the 1900s was complete without a hat. Hats that women wore in those days were large and broad, embellished with feathers, flowers, fruits and ribbons. Some were even decorated with stuffed birds. Hairstyles were always high, worn in a bun.
However, towards the end of the decade, curvy was out, and its place was taken by the straight look, a style introduced by a famous French designer Paul Poiret. The full bust was narrowed down, as were the hips. Corsets were loosened and clothes were now made to fit the original body form. The famous hourglass silhouette was now transformed into one that was straight, which exuded elegance and grace, and was a trend that continued into several following decades. High waistlines continued to be the order of the day. Hats also continued to embellish the overall outfit.

1900s Fashion for Men

There is a misconception that has existed forever, that men do not fuss over fashion as much as women do. However, men's fashion in the 1900s proved this belief wrong. Different wear for different times of the day was also a norm for men in this decade that included morning coats, lounge suits, dinner jackets and other formal wear.
  • Informal Wear: During winters, knee length overcoats were the dominant style. During travel or other outdoor activities, men wore heavy tweed jackets, pleated at the front and back, held together with a matching belt. A popular informal shirt was the striped shirt. Men's shirts were characterized by tall and stiff collars. Ties were also a part of informal wear. Narrow ties with the 'four-in-hand knot' were a part of the informal attire for men in the 1900s. Trousers were fitted at the cuffs, and were short in length.
  • Formal Wear: As formal wear, men wore lounge coats and for social gatherings and dinners, dinner jackets were the norm, matched with a white shirt. A formal outfit was incomplete without a necktie. Evening wear was characterized by the white bow tie. Day time formal wear included a morning coat accompanied by a high-buttoned, single breasted waistcoat. Ascot ties were worn with dress shirts as part of formal day wear.
  • Hats: Hats were more popular as part of the attire for upper class men. Top hats were common among other styles such as the Homburg hats, that had a dent in the crown. Hat styles in the 1900s also included the bowler hats, which had a round crown, and were made of soft felt. During summer, men wore straw boater hats, that were flat, and adorned with a ribbon around the crown.
People all over the world have always been conscious about fashion trends, even in historical times. To think it is a recent trend is a misconception. Fashion has always dominated the lifestyle of individuals belonging to all classes, and will continue to do so.
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