Fashion by Decade: 1790s to 1890s

I was looking at the listings for the Nov 14th Augusta Auctions sale in NYC. As usual they have absolutely gorgeous vintage clothing and museum quality antique dresses. Since they have such a variety of time periods, I thought I would do a history of ladies fashion from the 1790s to the 1890s.

These days people wear mostly a uniform of jeans and T-shirts. But people are free to wear anything they like, be it a from long to short, drop waist-ed to empire waist-ed, poofy full skirts and sleeves to slinky form fitting outfits.

This was not always the case. Before the 1950s began loosening social mores, most people followed one set style of dress. In the past each decade and sometimes entire centuries had a distinct look which was followed rigorously day in and day out. Granted clothes were made of more durable material and treasured as a luxury that had to last for years. Multiple layers of undergarments protected the fabric and meant that the lifespan of a dress was several years of frequent wear.

1790s Georgian

Image

Skirt: Full Circle, Floor Length (Ladies never dared show their ankles!)

Sleeves: mostly narrow long sleeve.

Waist: natural waist

Undergarments: tight corsets, petticoats, hoop skirts, chemise, etc

History: US President Washington and French Revolution

1790 and much of the the previous hundred years had a similar silhouette of a tight waist and full skirt.

1800 – 1820s Regency or Empire

Skirt: Full Circle phased out for  narrower circle, Floor Length (Ladies still never dared show their ankles!)

Sleeves: Cap Sleeve popular, 3/4 sleeve and narrow long sleeve.

Waist: Natural waist phased out for empire waist

Undergarments: corsets, petticoats, chemise, etc

History: Napoleonic Wars, US President Jefferson, Prince Regent George & author Jane Austen

A revival of Greek fashion and republican ideals and a reaction to the French Revolution with its backlash against aristocratic excess lead to a more natural silhouette. Tight corsets and tiny waist gave way to the Empire waist and a more free flowing skirt without hoops.

1830 – 1860s Civil War Era / early Victorian

Image

Skirt: Full Circle is phased back in, Floor Length (Ladies still never dared show their ankles!)

Sleeves: 3/4 sleeve, bell sleeves and narrow long sleeve.

Waist: Natural waist is back

Undergarments: corsets, petticoats, chemise, etc

History: Civil War, US President Lincoln, Queen Victoria & author Charles Dickens

High waist-ed dresses fall out of fashion and a return to the typical tiny waist and hoop skirt that had come before.

1870s – 1880s Victorian

Image

Skirt: Bustles & Trains popular with Full Circle phased out for slightly narrower circle, Floor Length (Ladies still never dared show their ankles!)

Sleeves: 3/4 sleeve and extra wide or narrow long sleeve.

Waist: Natural waist

Undergarments: corsets, petticoats, hoop skirts, chemise, etc

History: Reconstruction of the South, expansion Out West, Queen Victoria

1890s late Victorian

Image

Skirt: Full Circle phased out for narrower skirt, ankle length

Sleeves: 3/4 sleeve and big long sleeve.

Waist: Natural waist

Undergarments: corsets, petticoats, chemise, etc

History: Queen Victoria (still), psychologist Freud, automobile invented, Oscar Wilde, & suffragettes

Advertisements

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Real Victorian Fashion for Women | Lost in Austin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: