Take a look at fabulous women over sixty like Susan Sarandon, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and you will notice that they keep the patterns to a minimum, tending to focus more on wearing solid colors. Even upper class women began wearing cropped dresses as opposed to dresses with long trains or hoops that restricted them from leaving their homes. Neoclassical Fashion and Gender Identity in France, ". Fashionable women wore similar caps for morning at home undress wear.
Women and girls who previously worked as domestic servants took jobs in munitions factories, performed administrative work, worked as drivers, nurses, and on farms. They volunteered for organizations like the Red Cross and joined the military. A new image of freedom and self respect led women away from traditional gender roles. They drove cars and demanded the right to vote. Many of the occupations demanded the wearing of uniforms, including trousers.
A military look crept into fashion designs as well, bringing military-style tunic jackets, belts, and epaulets. During World War I, people took to a plainer lifestyle. Women wore less jewelry, and the lavish clothing of the Edwardian period fell by the wayside. As women dressed for new roles, gender-dictated dress codes relaxed.
Skirts became shorter, as they often do during wartime, and colors became sober and muted. Women wore lacy shirtwaists and long, narrow skirts that fell to the top of the foot. The tunic, introduced by Paul Poiret, based on a Russian peasant look, came to blend with the military-style tunic worn during the Great War.
At the end of the Edwardian period around , Paul Poiret introduced the jupe colotte for evening wear— a high waisted tunic style dress worn with harem pants. As the world entered war in , women were offered more tailored versions of the look which included military details along with checks and stripes. Jeanne Paquin, the first woman to gain international fame in the world of fashion, created garments for the new, more active woman.
Her version of the hobble skirt a narrow skirt that restricted a woman's stride included pleats for ease of movement. Her designs mixed tailoring with feminine drapery. The spring of brought a new fashion trend called the "war crinoline" which featured a bell-shaped skirt and a wide over-skirt. The season also featured sloped shoulders and wide collars, but the use of so much fabric was soon viewed as wasteful during wartime and critics called for a more conservative use of cloth.
In , the fashion show was a new phenomenon. Previously, designers had worked with individual clients to create new combinations of style, cut, and fabric for a more personalized look. Paul Poiret's traveling fashion show appeared at charity benefits, theaters, and department stores in Europe. He took his show to the US in Soon, other designers followed suit. In , a New York film company documented a twice yearly show, offering a look at couture for the masses. Before the advent of fashion models, actresses, singers, and dancers modeled the clothing.
During World War I, fashion shows were organized to help raise funds for the war effort. Led by Paul Poiret, French couture houses banded together to form a syndicate to thwart design piracy. Customers and businesses who wanted to reproduce couture designs were charged a copyright fee and fashion shows were invitation-only. During the Great War, higher hemlines exposed a gap between the tip of the boot and a skirt hem.
The look distracted from the overall appearance of an outfit, so the high button boots of the past were abandoned, and women wore shoes with heels that featured a slight curve as you can see in the illustration here.
The Great War introduced a new coat style that became a classic for the rest of the century and beyond: A need for all-weather coats inspired a new style and fabric. In London, Burberry patented an all-weather, breathable fabric, a chemically processed fine cotton gabardine that was approved for military use. The new military style coat featured a wide collar, extra fabric at the top of the back, epaulettes, and a belt. The trench coat became a fashion staple for both men and women for the next years.
The more relaxed attitude towards gender-specific clothing combined with women's more active lifestyles inspired what we now call sportswear. Skiing, for instance, went from a practical activity to a popular sport. As long skirts were unsuitable for skiing as well as many other activities, women began to wear a short knee-length skirt over knickerbockers.
Burberry produced jackets and pants an all-weather gabardine that protected the wearer from wind and snow. Bathing costumes became less about modesty and more about the ability to actually swim. The one-piece bathing suit was born, offering women greater freedom of movement in the water. Smaller suits were generally worn by competitive swimmers, however many swim costumes remained long and dress-like. A key development in women's undergarments was introduced by a new York debutante named Mary Phelps Jacob.
Working under the name Caresse Crosby, Jacobs designed one of the first modern bras. Previously, breasts had been pushed up by corsets. The new design was soft and boneless with shoulder straps that suspended the breasts from above.
Corsets were not totally abandoned but given greater flexibility for comfort. The Spirella corset offered a greater range of movement than the old fashioned type and purported to improve posture to benefit overall health.
The makers of these corsets would send a representative to your home to measure you for a personal fit. The hard war years, combined with the devastating effects of the flu pandemic, brought the world to its knees.
After Armistice, recovery was difficult. People felt crushed and cynical as they moved into peacetime. A new feeling of freedom mixed with disillusionment created a new kind of culture, a live-for-today, devil-may-care society that led to the roaring 20s and the distinctive look, sound, and fashion of the Jazz Age.
Where do I buy early 's inspired clothing? Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. Julie that sounds so interesting! I once found a WWI nurses uniform at an antique shop. Perhaps you could find some original clothing on ebay. If that proves too expensive or difficult, there are many sites that offer historic clothing patterns. You could find someone who can sew and create some garments.
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