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Hiatory Of Fashion
The period between 1901-1910 is often called the Edwardian Era after Queen Victoria's successor, King Edward VII. Sophisticates and the French also refer to this time as La Belle Epoque, or "Beautiful Age," as there was a definite leaning toward classical aesthetics. It was an era of beautiful clothes and the peak of luxury living for a select few: the very rich and the very privileged through birth.
In retrospect we can see it is an era very separate from the 20th century despite belonging at its start. The attitudes and lifestyles of two decades were swept away by war and because the war was so huge in its impact, a new socialism and sense of personal identity was born. The masses started to reject the concept of privilege as the reason for a better life. Clothes worn after 1915 could probably be worn today in certain circumstances, but clothes before then are more in tune with the elaborate clothes of 1770 and would only be seen today at a costumed event or as bridal wear.
Paris was the absolute mecca of the fashion world, Picasso was in his blue and pink period, the Wright brothers were making aviation history, and San Francisco was devastated by an earthquake in 1906. Photography reached a heyday and the first narrative film, 'The Great Train Robbery' (1903) was released.
By 1900 tailored and tailor made suits were firmly established. Women entering a changing, more commercial workplace found it a useful all purpose outfit. Men objected to the tailor made female suit as they saw it representing a challenge to their authority. Women seemed to be making a clear statement that they deserved and wanted more independence in the future. The tailor made was called a costume or a suit and made of wool or serge. Middle and upper class women wore them with shirtwaist blouses. Looser, and less fitted versions of a simple suit had been available for informal wear since 1850. But the tailored suit as we know it was first introduced in the 1880s by the Houses of Redfern and Creed. Initially only the jacket was tailored and it was worn with a draped bustle skirt. Until 1910 the gored skirt also looked more tailored and matched the jacket style which followed the changing silhouette of the time. These gored skirts created an elongated trumpet bell shape. Modified versions were less extreme over the hips, simply flowing to more width at the hemline. Tailor mades were described as ideal for travelling by all in the know. Within a decade they became much more versatile with a distinction being made between the different type of cloth used. Lighter cloths were used in tailor made outfits suitable for weddings; heavier tweeds and rougher serge was used for everyday or country wear suits.
Travelling suits were also necessary since motor cars had come into vogue and those who could afford them purchased them and spent many a weekend day traveling about the countryside, both in the United States and abroad. Since these cars were usually open, they created dusty and dirty atmospheres as country roads were often unpaved. Along with the ladies' traveling suits, loose topcoats in leather were worn, or special motoring coats from Burberry or Aquascutum. These also acted as protection from the weather and cold. Oil blasts could be a problem so women also wore thick face veils with their hats and even goggles.During this time it was still the norm to make dresses in two pieces. The bodice was heavily boned and was almost like a mini corset itself worn over the mandatory S-bend corset. A top bodice was usually mounted onto a lightly boned under bodice lining which fastened up with hooks and eyes very snugly. It acted as a stay garment giving extra stability, contour and directional shape beneath the delicate top fabric. By 1905 press fasteners were used in Britain to hold the bodice or blouse to a skirt, but America had dress fasteners as early as 1901. Very deep high lace fabric collars that reached right under the chin elongated the neck. They were often kept in place with wire covered in silk that was twisted into a series of hooks and eyes from one piece of wire. Little wire or boning supports covered with buttonhole silk were sometimes dispersed every few inches of the collar to maintain the rigid effect. High necks were usual by day, but by night exceptionally low sweetheart, square and round décolleté necklines allowed women to wear quantities of fine jewelry. No cleavage was visible as the bust was suppressed into a tight monobosom. Washable kid gloves were always worn with outdoor garments both in the winter and the summer. Fancy gloves were also made in suede and silk and covered with fine embroidery.
Early in the decade, with all the fussing about with the top portion of the female body people developed a preference for narrow feet, which was believed to be a sign of breeding and gentility. Both men and women regularly wore shoes that were a full size too small. Some women even opted to have their little toes removed to achieve narrower feet! Day shoes were typically boots. Evening shoes were more diverse, with the popular style for women a court shoe with a small, Louis heel. These were often embellished with embroidery or metallic thread and glass or jet beading on the toes, often the only part peeking out from a voluminous skirt. Evening boots were often made from soft kid or satin, with rows of beaded straps embellishing the shin. Many people, especially men, often had just one pair that lasted for several years.
The epitome of the hourglass, monobosomed, tiny waisted and footed gentile lady during this period was, of course, the Gibson Girl. This particular image was a cartoon character drawn by the American artist Charles Dana Gibson. For twenty years between 1890 and 1910 he satirized society with his image of 'The New Woman' who was competitive, sporty and emancipated as well as beautiful. Her clothes were fashionable in both America and Britain and set a fashion for the narrow, gored skirt worn with an embroidered blouse or 'shirtwaist'. Another Gibson look was a shirt collar worn with either a tie, a floppy artist bow, a tie neck cravat with stick pin bar brooch or a crosscut ruffled jabot. It is also said that King Edward had a penchant for mature, buxom women. This led to an even stronger societal preference for older, curvaceous versions of beauty, including a love of gray and white hair.
Young children and especially girls wore carbon copies of the adult clothing, except for length which could vary from 20 to 28 inches on children one to five years old. Sailor type waists were in vogue for girls up to 14 years but the wide collar over the shoulder was most prevalent.
Men wore one or three button cutaway frock coats, or the single or double breasted 'sack' which is a straight lined jacket; average width of the pants' leg was 22 inches at the bottom. It was a neat look, a dandified look, worn with a bowler hat and high collar with bow tie. Overcoats were generally worn short, at knee length. The cane was standard and the handles often outlasted the cane or umbrella itself; many were made from sterling silver and are highly sought after by collectors today.
Boys and younger men wore three piece suits for dress or evening, normally consisting of coat, vest and knee pants which were tight fitting and usually made with 'double knees'. These met the high stockings worn at the knee. In 1900 the gentleman wore a top hat with a frock coat, the homburg with less formal day wear, and the straw hat became the fancy of both men and women.
The years from 1900 to the outbreak of World War I were a time of extravagance and ostentation. The function of clothing was becoming more practical especially with the motorcar coming into vogue. The late years of the decade were geared towards making the 'world safe for democracy'. WWI changed not only fashion, it changed the entire world forever.
History of Fashion * Modren
The 80s was the decade of excess. Everything was bigger, and everyone wanted more more more! More was better....wasn't it? Shoulder pads were de riguer for both men and women, the more accessories the better. And hair; well, again BIG was IT!
Before "Friends" ruled television, "The Cosby Show" and "Family Ties" gave us a reason to tune in on Thursday nights; Gary Coleman asked Willis what he was talking about and every girl wanted Don Johnson from Miami Vice (not to mention, every guy wanted his outfits). The video revolution changed everything as well. Coinciding with the new wave movement, music television and MTV added a whole new dimension to music as an artform. The visuals that these videos presented to their audiences was intoxicating and added to their mystery, rather than dispelling it. The fashion, the make-up, the narrative of videos made even the most insignificant of bands look larger-than-life and had the fashion world in a frenzy.
In between 1980 and 1990 were 10 years worth of great movies, bad movies, good TV and bad TV sitcoms; and of course famous characters and infamous fads (Rubik cube and Cabbage Patch dolls to name two). And lots of stuff you could dance to.
The 80s music scene instantly brings to mind the decade's two icons: Michael Jackson and Madonna, the Material Girl. Jackson had nine No. 1 singles in the 80s which totalled 31 weeks at the top spot. In addition to his solo hits “Rock With You,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Way You Make Me Feel,” “Dirty Diana,” “Bad,” and “Man in the Mirror,” Jackson topped the charts with his collaborations on the “We Are The World” effort by USA For Africa and his duet with former Beatle Paul McCartney on “Say, Say, Say.”
Madonna was Michael Jackson’s female counterpart of the decade. Though not able to boast as many No. 1 singles as Jackson - Madonna charted seven No. 1s in the 80s, topping the charts overall for 15 weeks - her influence changed a generation, and arguably, the music industry forever.
Madonna Louise Ciccone burst onto the scene clad in yards of lace, beads, crosses and the infamous Boy Toy belt, singing about such taboos as virginity and unwed mothers. She was like the Pied Piper of music for a gazillion wannabes who bleached their hair, donned lace tops and wore short skirts over capri pants. From her early dance hits like “Everybody,” Madonna morphed into a soulful diva with “Live to Tell.” In between she bombarded the public with a whirlwind of acting gigs, romances (note her marriage to Sean Penn) and somehow implanted herself firmly in the hearts and pocketbooks of American consumers. And her impact on fashion was indisputable.
From her wildly teased and colored hair to the return of lace and fishnet stockings, Madonna WAS The Material Girl and bragged about it to no end. Her accessories were over the top chic, and girls around the world were Madonna-wannabes even going so far as to add her trademark mole to their cheeks.
But Madonna's wasn't the only hairstyle that was copied. Hair styles of the 80s are the most diverse and humorous characteristics of this decade. In the early 80s, the New Romantic fashions kicked off the decade with great hair experimentation. For a while there seemed to be a competition to see who could build the tallest hair, have the strangest angles, or see much plastic, metal and mousse you could fit into your hair and still keep your head upright.
Big hair is not unique to the 80s - the 60s had the beehive and the 70s had the afro. What set the 80s hair styles apart was their diversity. The start of the decade saw the extravagance of strange hair colours and cuts. By 1984 the trends had settled and focused on one simple concept - volume. More hair was better. Bananarama had some of best examples of 80s hair, reflecting the fashions of the decade from cut style to volume. The 'Hair Bands' of the 1980s applied this style in a big way, strongest around 1987-88. Bands like Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Def Leppard and Poison truly epitomized the 'bigger is better' adage.
By 87-88, the 70s started to return and it was suddenly OK to have a retro look. You could even have short hair provided it was bleached, dyed a bright color or spiked in an unusual way with hair gel. The synthpop band Flock of Seagulls showed just how unique this trend was. Many accessories were available to assist with this process - you could tease your hair and stick it up with mousse. Some mousse even contained glitter or other sparkle pieces to give your hair 'extra interest and individuality'. If you think shampoo stings, try getting glitter mousse in your eyes - a common occurrence as some brands tended to flake.
Asymmetrical haircuts were the most popular around 1985-1988. Hair was cut short beginning with the bangs and increasing in length around the head until it came to somewhat of a diagonal point on the other side. Or the hair was really short on one side and a longer length in back and on the other side. (See England's popular band The Human League for a great example)
And who could forget the mullet? Guys the world round wore a similar style to the asymmetrical haircut, except that the top and sides were short (and usually cut around the ears), then dropped off in the back to a longer 'shag' style. Occasionally on the wilder new wave guys, this style was adapted so that the longer back was tightly wound or braided into a rat tail (even some wilder new wave chicks daringly wore this style!)
In or around 1984, guys discovered the parachute pant. Parachute pants were fairly tight nylon pants with zippered patch pockets, the usual 2 front + 2 back, plus one or two on each leg with zippered ankles. Rapper MC Hammer took this pants style to the extreme with his loose, long crotch, and ultra baggy pants in a wild range of materials and colors. Like the popular harem pants, Hammer pants were worn by few but admired by many.
By 1987 both sexes were wearing the all important acid washed jeans. Acid wash was a chemical processed denim that stripped the top layer of color off to a white surface with the undertones of navy blue remaining in the jeans. And not only jeans were acid washed; if you were truly fashionable, you also had an acid washed denim jacket that matched said jeans. While blue was the most popular color of acid wash, in the late 80s denim manufacturers also experimented with red styles and black (black and gold acid wash was truly jaw dropping!)
More on 80s Music
New Wave's older siblings, Punk and Power Pop, surfaced during the latter half of the 70's and helped ignite what was to become one of the biggest musical explosions of the last 25 years, certainly in terms of creativity and diversity. Disco and early electropop pioneers made their mark on new wave as well. While disco revolutionized dance music, widespread backlash forced it into the underground by the dawn of the eighties, leaving New Wave to keep dance music afloat and the airwaves and club scene bristling with unheard of energy.
New wave proved to be breathtaking in its scope - at the core of most new wave was an infectious dance beat and energy galore. Mainstream artists like Joe Jackson, and even David Bowie and The Kinks brushed the fringes of this musical tapestry. Similar in style (and confusing to some) were the Synthpop groups i.e. Depeche Mode, Human League, Soft Cell; and the New Romantics Ultravox, Adam Ant, Spandau Ballet. New romanticism, however, never managed much of an impression in the US; it remained very much a European (and Canadian) movement. Despite the general inadequacy of pigeonholing, there were the other requisite, defining styles from the era: Goth (Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure), Ska/post punk (Madness, The English Beat), Rockabilly (Dave Edmunds, Stray Cats, The Cramps), and Power Pop (The Vapors, The Producers). And that's only scratching the surface.
Australia enjoyed a brief and lively renaissance (at least from an American perspective) ushered in by Men At Work in '82, who made it clear to the world in their homeland homage "Down Under." INXS broke through this very same year and maintained a huge following worldwide until the unfortunate death of Michael Hutchence in the 90s. Many Aussie popular artists made the big jump across the pond including Split Enz, Midnight Oil, Icehouse, Divinyls, and Crowded House.
Fashion wasn't just influenced by the powers of MTV and music. Movies too made a big splash in what we wore. Mega-popular movies such as Footloose, Flashdance, and others had both girls and guys rushing out to their favorite mall to copy their fashion favorite movie stars.
Leg warmers started with dancers of course, years before - and are still worn by many today. But by around 1982 they began to make an appearance in wider society thanks to the movie Flashdance. You could now pretend you were a dancer by wearing leg warmers over the top of your jeans and showing your skills! Leg warmers were no longer black either. Now they were speckled, fluoro and some were worn so low that they would have been better known as ankle warmers. The hard core would wear them to a sweaty nightclub - even in summer and layer them, wearing 2 and 3 pairs at a time. Strangely, leg warmers managed to hang around a little longer than many other 80's fashions and they didn't meet their fate until late 1984. By 85, they were extinct. It was probably those girls that wore them with evening sandals or pumps that killed them off.
Speaking of shoes, while some women wore the highest heels possible (and in the loudest colors available such as hot pink, purple and teal) others (especially younger women) were rebelling and wanted flat, comfy shoes. Jelly shoes were born. Jellies were flat, see thru plastic shoes that came in a variety of brands and colors. The best part though was how cheap jellies were! Your local Kmart or Walmart had them for as low as $4.00 and $5.00 a pair! Imagine! You could have a closetful of multi colored shoes for less than $25.00. The bad part was jellies were HOT; all that plastic made your feet sweat, and there was no support of course so dancing the night away in your jellies left you with sore feet the next day.