Women Fashion Clothing- (History of the Dress)


There are numerous books in the library on history of the dress, fashion, and costume design. Many fashion history documents date back to Ancient Egypt and move us forward into the Twentieth Century, but this post, in part, is just a glimpse of fashion from the fifties to present day.

This post will be gaged for the everyday lady who is adventurous, playful, and even a little naughty. As you see the development and design, could you choose an element to add to your wardrobe today? Yes, you can!

Creating your own style with simple one or two pieces accented with Apfel long gloves, to fashioned color stones and hardware. The possibilities are limitless, and the unique genres of dress allow you to delve into your creative self-expression.

Yesterday’s Fashion. (What We Wore by Ellen Melinkoff. An Offbeat Social History of Women’s Clothing 1950-1980)

Dress has been fashioned in a vast array throughout the past thirty years. Women have adorned themselves in hoops, beads, bell bottoms, caftans, fishnet tights, and short skirts-these being styles typical of Spanish influence, gypsies, the H.M.S. Pinafore crew, Moroccan tribal chiftans and hookers from forty-second street, from cover-all to expose all and even in-between.
Though certain attire was worn, it did not necessarily mean that it was always liked.(pg.13)

Factored into the reasoning of like or dislike was the influence of the fashion industry, advertisements on T.V., magazines, and word of mouth. Notably the most influential element was peer pressure. (pg.13)

(pg.13)Some styles were liked because of what one’s family of friends thought about them. Strangely enough, 1950’s fashions were not so different from just a few years preceding.(pg.19) War was going on so women were doing the “men’s jobs”- so it’s no wonder or surprise that their attire came very close to that of the men’s. The focus would be more on comfort versus femininity.

Memories of the fifties era partially reflect on the extremely full-skirted, ‘crinoline-cum-hoop’ look. That look required cumbersome upkeep, so one could only imagine the tension buildup of having to wear them.(pg.23)

The sixties attire would bring fashion contrast in a period where the sacred and the profane both existed. From the mesmerizing dress of Jackie Kennedy, where women wanted to dress like her, to the ‘anything goes’ concept, the 1960’s would be a memorable period. Jackie Kennedy’s style still remained one of interest even after 20 years.

The 1970’s would usher women’s fashion into knit hats, maxi coats, and mini-dresses-odd and flirty combination. Women would later be seen in gypsy dresses with long sweaters worn with jeans. Hot pants would make their way onto the scene by 1971.

Various other fashions were in style: mod and hippie looks, dress-for-success came into the forefront as more women shifted into professional roles-so suites became part of the wardrobe. The world of fashion continued to emerge into the 1980’s displaying varied styles and fashion preferences. (pg.164-166)

Today’s Fashion-(The Complete History of Costume and Fashion)

Today’s fashion is global, cultural, and at its best, individual. In the book, ‘The complete History of Costume and Fashion’, Bronwyn Cosgrave states, “Fashion’s true meaning; self-expression.”

The way one chooses to wear their clothing actually marks their individuality. Notably then, what is important is that one feels beautiful.

Emmanuelle Dirix notes past varying styles of dress in his writing disclosed in, ‘Dressing the Decades-Twentieth Century Vintage Style.’ Some of the different designs displayed included beaded dresses, the contoured look, and day and evening apparel, just to name a few.

Looking Prior to 1950- (Dressing The Decades, *The Dress-100 Idea’s That Changed Fashion Forever)

According to Google Arts and Culture Entity, “The Edwardian era of British history of King Edward the seventh, 1901-1910, is sometimes extended in both directions to capture long-term trends from the 1890’s to the first World War.” King Edward the seventh and his fashionable friends followed the arts and fashions of other European countries.

This history lesson begins with the 1900’s. In effort to ‘reduce the hips’, dresses were patterned in a tube formed shape, knee length designs, and with a longer full length skirt flowing underneath. Another unique style offered during the Edwardian era, which gave women the coolness of a finer, lighter fabric was the tea gown. It could be worn without the need of a corset, giving women some room for relaxing in the solitude of their own homes or of close friends.

By 1910, Paris led the fashion world. Evening gowns were the celebrated look, along with stylish opera coats, turban, and Harlem pants. Another fashion statement becoming popular during the World War One era was the tunic dress. Similar to the freedom from the corset, the tunic allowed women the satisfaction of feeling pretty without restraint of undergarments. (pg.14)

The schematic noted by the simplicity of less fabric could be varied by patchwork and would last in its positive design during the ensuing decade. This simple variation would mark the next era; one which allowed ladies the freedom of unrestrained movement. (pg.14)

The 1920’s would launch The Jazz Age. This fashion age introduced the revealing of bare shoulders and legs. Clearly, there is a progression in the fashion world by this time in history. From almost total coverage, now to unveiling, the world of fashion is a continual process of changes and setting of trends. (pg.14)

Oddly enough, as the decades roll by, we begin to see a mixture of styles and fashions-dresses worn both full length and shorter, sleeves both long, short, and sleeveless, legs and shoulders covered and exposed. By 1990, these designs accentuated the response to feminist debates. (pg.17)

Various fashion designers have been instrumental in shaping the style of dress throughout history, such as Jeanne Paquin, Paul Poiret, Jacques Doucet, and Coco Chanel, which are among those noted in ‘Dressing the Decades’.(pg.17)

Marnie Fogg educates us on the different styles of dress worn through the decades in her book. Notable are several that might draw our attention: Classical, Egyptian dress, Byzantine dress, the sack, the train, and equestrian dress. Those were only a few of many highlighting the exciting world of fashion that has shaped history throughout the centuries. (*pg.33)

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