OVERVIEW

Womenswear

The Victoria & Albert Museum writes of 1890s womenswear:

“In the early part of the decade, women wore tight bodices with high collars and narrow sleeves, much as they had done in the previous decade. From about 1893 however, sleeves started expanding into a leg-of-mutton shape, which was tight at the lower arm and puffed out at the upper arm. Wide shoulders were fashionable and horizontal decoration on the bodice further exaggerated the line. Skirts were worn in a full-length, simple A-line. Masculine styles and tailoring were increasingly popular, and women sometimes sported a shirt collar and tie, particularly when playing golf or out walking. Hair was worn high on top of the head, in tight curls. Hats were small or wide with lots of trimming, but generally worn squarely on top of the head.”

Afternoon Dress

Fig. 1 - unknown (American). Afternoon Dress, 1890. Daughters of the American Revolution Museum. Source: dar.org

Day Dress

Fig. 2 - unknown (American). Day Dress, 1896. Daughters of the American Revolution Museum. Source: dar.org

Tweed Day Dress

Fig. 3 - unknown (American). Tweed Day Dress, 1894-5. Daughters of the American Revolution. Source: dar.org

Evening Dress

Fig. 4 - unknown (American). Evening Dress, 1896-7. Daughters of the American Revolution Museum. Source: dar.org

Menswear

The Victoria & Albert Museum writes of 1890s menswear:

“The three-piece lounge suit was very popular and regularly worn from the 1890s onwards, and it became increasingly common to have creases at the front of the trousers. Frock coats were still worn, but generally by older or more conservative men. Collars were starched and high, with the tips pressed down into wings, though by the end of the century collars were more frequently turned down and worn with the modern long, knotted tie style. Hair was cut short and usually parted at the side. Heavy moustaches were common, and older men still sported beards. Some men now went clean-shaven.”

Plate 040

Fig. 1 - Artist unknown. Plate 040, 1896-1899. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of Woodman Thompson. Source: Met Digital Collections

Fig. 2 - Artist unknown (American). , Plate 001. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of Woodman Thompson. Source: Met Digital Collections

Plate 003

Fig. 3 - Artist unknown (American). Plate 003, 1890-1899. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of Woodman Thompson. Source: Met Digital Collections

Plate 002

Fig. 4 - Artist unknown (American). Plate 002, 1890-1899. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Source: Met Digital Collections

CHILDREN’S WEAR

References:

Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1890-1899
Rulers:

Europe 1894. Source: Omniatlas

Events:
  • 1892- The first issue of Vogue magazine, founded by Arthur Turnure, is published in the US. Viyella (a blend of wool and cotton) is introduced and is popularly used for night wear.
  • 1895 – Marconi invented wireless telegraph. The new artistic style of Art Nouveau influences fashion in the form of simple felt hats, turbans, and clouds of tulle.
  • 1896 – First Olympics since Ancient times.
  • 1898 – Spanish- American War
  • Primary/Period Sources

    Resources for Fashion History Research

    To discover primary/period sources, explore the categories below.
    Have a primary source to suggest?  Or a newly digitized periodical/book to announce?  Contact us!

    Fashion Plate Collections (digitized)
    NYC-Area Special Collections of Fashion Periodicals/Plates
    Womenswear Periodicals (Digitized)
    Etiquette Books (Digitized)
    Menswear Periodicals / Etiquette Books (Digitized)

    Secondary Sources

    Also see the 19th-century overview page for more research sources... or browse our Zotero library.

    Online
    Books/Articles
    Pinterest