• 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

1410-1419

Fashion during this decade turned away from extravagance and towards simplicity. The elaborate fashions of the court of France that were dominant throughout Europe reached their peak in 1415. In that year, the French defeat at the hands of the English at the Battle of Agincourt, in part because they were over-armored and over-dressed, forced a reckoning. Long houppelandes, bombard sleeves, and decorative dagging declined, and the English and Burgundians took a greater share in fashion leadership.

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

1620-1629

The 1620s saw the adoption of leg-of-mutton sleeves in both men’s and womenswear; while men’s clothing achieved an elegant, longer line, women’s dress became high-waisted and fuller.

1860-1869

During the 1860s, the cage crinoline allowed women's skirts to reach their apex in size, while menswear relaxed into wide, easy cuts. Advances in technology, such as the sewing machine and aniline dyes, and the rise of Parisian couture, beginning with the House of Worth, changed the fashion landscape.

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.