Author: Harper Franklin

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.

Read More

1810-1819

The high-waisted neoclassical silhouette continued to define womenswear of the 1810s, as fashion remained inspired by classical antiquity. However, the purity of the line was increasingly broken by trim, colors, and a new angularity as tubular skirts were gradually replaced by triangular ones by the end of the decade. Menswear was led by British tailors, as a perfect fit was paramount. World events such as the Napoleonic Wars played a large role in shaping fashion of the period.

Read More

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.

Read More

1830-1839

1830s fashion was dramatic and overwhelming, marked by huge sleeves and hats, reflecting the Romantic movement. Extravagant dandies led the fashion world. After 1836, the exuberance that had defined fashion since the 1820s collapsed into a drooping sentimentality.

Read More

1840-1849

Influenced by the Gothic Revival and Romanticism, the fashionable 1840s woman was demure, constrained by an unforgiving silhouette. Menswear was understated, as the bourgeois Victorian male became the fashion leader.

Read More

1850-1859

Fashion of the 1850s for both men and women was in a colorful, exuberant style with luxurious fabrics and relaxed cuts. Technological innovation had a large impact on clothing in this period, from the invention of the cage crinoline to the increasing availability of the sewing machine.

Read More

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.

Read More

Recent Essays

Twitter