• film analysis
  • thematic essays
  • year overview

1938

The year 1938 was a period of transition from the catastrophic Great Depression to World War II. Women’s fashion was exuberant: vibrant colors, Surrealist accessories, ornate hats with minimal embellishments were key trends. However, the overall silhouette was simple, clean, and sophisticated. Hemlines began to fall down below the knees. Restrained, structured shoulders evolved into the iconic puff sleeve. Public figures such as the Duchess of Windsor inspired women in their everyday dress.

  • ancient
  • early Middle Ages
  • 14th century
  • 15th century
  • 16th 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.

  • 17th century
  • 18th century
  • 19th century
  • 20th century
  • 21st century

1640-1649

The 1640s saw womenswear trend in a softer and slightly simpler direction, with low necklines and billowing three-quarter length sleeves often in satin of a single color. With much of Europe at war, menswear took on a more militaristic edge and a parallel simplification, with the wearing of buff coats widely adopted in England.

1820-1829

The 1820s were a transitional period away from the "Empire" silhouette and Neoclassical influences. Instead, Romanticism became the chief influence on fashion, as Gothic decoration lavished dresses and historicism inspired styles borrowed from past centuries. Layers of color and an increasingly exaggerated silhouette, for both men and women, created a style of dramatic display by the end of the decade.

1900-1909

While technology progressed in the first decade of the twentieth century, fashion largely remained the same. Subtle changes in silhouette occurred in womenswear until the tubular shape of the 1910s was beginning to emerge by the end of the decade. Lace and other embellishments were key. Menswear continued to see the suit as the primary style, though the tuxedo became increasingly acceptable as formal wear in the evening. Children continued to be dressed like mini-adults and styles such has the sailor suit continued to be popular options.