• artwork analysis
  • garment analysis
  • film analysis
  • designer profile
  • thematic essays
  • year overview

1818-1907 – Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Keckley, a remarkably successful dressmaker, built her career upon exacting technical standards, graceful clean lines, and an understanding of Parisian fashionable trends. She is well known for her work for the political elite of Washington DC, particularly for Mary Todd Lincoln. Keckley was one of the first African American women to publish a book and was an impassioned activist who created a relief organization for newly freed enslaved persons.

1868

In 1868, skirts with long trains were at the height of fashion, which resulted in noticeable cropping in images depicting this prevalent style of dress. Yet, at the same time, walking dresses became daringly short, showing off fashionable ankle boots.

  • ancient
  • Middle Ages
  • 14th century
  • 15th century
  • 16th century
  • 17th century

1420-1429

The duchy of Burgundy, enriched by the wealth of its Flemish cities, was the leading center of fashion during the 1420s. The Duke of Burgundy's alliance with England supported the production of the finest woolen textiles, woven in Flanders from English yarn. Merchants used their profits from manufacture and trade to rival aristocrats as the greatest consumers of Italian silk velvets and other luxuries. Throughout Europe, men dressed in black and women with tall, horn-shaped headdresses were signs of Burgundian influence.

1680-1689

In the 1680s, the bustled and trained mantua became the dominant dress for women, often in dark silk brocades. Men continued to wear the justaucorps, which was now slightly shaped at the waist, with a lace cravat and curly full-bottomed wig.

  • 18th century
  • 19th century
  • 20th century
  • 21st century
  • BIPOC
  • LGBTQ+

1800-1809

The nineteenth century opened with a fashion landscape that was changing dramatically and rapidly from the styles of a generation earlier. The French Revolution brought fashions that had been emerging since the 1780s to the forefront. Neoclassicism now defined fashion as both men and women took inspiration from classical antiquity. For women, the high-waisted silhouette in lightweight muslin was the dominant style, while fashionable men looked to the tailors of Britain for a new, refined look.