Fashion is a general term for a popular style or practice, especially in clothing, footwear, or accessories. Fashion references to anything that is the current trend in look and dress up of a person. The prevailing style in behavior as well. The more technical term, costume, has become so linked in the public eye with the term “fashion” that the more general term “costume” has in popular use mostly been relegated to special senses like fancy dress or masquerade wear. In contrast, the term “fashion” means clothing generally and the study of it. For a broad cross-cultural look at clothing and its place in society, refer to clothing, costume, and fashion entries. The birth of fashion occurred somewhere around the end of the 1300s. We can trace the history of fashion through several key sources:
- Fabrics: these give us an idea of the technology and distribution systems the existed in different periods and regions, providing insight into markets and distribution chains
- Figurative arts: these are, of course, subjective, depending on what the artist (or the artist’s patron) wanted you to see, based on their own values, symbols, and priorities (for example, a Renaissance master might use more expensive colors to demonstrate wealth in his patron’s clothing, and we have no way of knowing what is factual and what is not)
- Archives: accounting records and post-mortem inventories often documented dresses, as these were among the most valuable items transmitted to heirs
- Literary texts
- Oral history
Evolution Of Fashion Industry
Quoted from All Things Historical Fiction
The Twelfth Century was an era of cultural and technical innovation that has been called both the “High Middle Ages and the “Little Renaissance.” This era was also an age of innovation and elegance in civilian dress. One such example was a new, elegant back-laced gown that replaced the bliaut over the second half of the 12th century. It was made popular throughout England and France’s courts by such famed ladies as Queen Eleanor and her daughter, the renowned Marie de France.
These new, fitted gowns adopted a variety of both simple and dramatic sleeve shapes. Although they fell out of fashion in the 13th century, they were forerunners to the fitted dresses that would reappear in the 14th. These beautiful designs are from the later decades of the 12th century and were worn for comfort. The long, fitted dress has narrow sleeves that flare out into dramatic, streaming cuffs that almost reach the ground. Worn with a double-wrapped belt, these gowns were the height of “High Medieval” fashion! These gowns were typically made from wool since it was the primary fabric worn for all classes. Also, women typically wore a wimple around their heads, which is depicted in the picture above.
There really wasn’t much change from womens’ gowns from the 12th to the 13th century except women wore hose and leather shoes, while their long dresses were loosely-fitted and had a narrow belt and tight sleeves. Over the dress was worn the cyclas or sleeveless surcoat. Women also continued to cover their hair. The 13th-century headdress was notable for the barbette, a chin band attached to various types of hats. The “woman’s coif” that resembled a pillbox hat was the most popular headdress from the 12th to the 13th century. Both barbette and coif were reduced to narrow strips of cloth by the end of the 13th century, while the hair was often confined into crespine or crespinette, a thick hairnet or snood. In the 12th and 13th centuries, women’s headdresses also featured wimples and veils, mostly worn by older women.
In the 14th century, clothing moved away from the tunic’s simple variants towards sleek, elegant lines that emphasized the human form. The basic woman’s gown of this era is elegant simplicity, naturally following the body’s contours, with a wide neckline – the height of 1300s daring! The classic elements of the historical design: fitted sleeves extending down unto the hand, full skirts, and a wide, rounded neckline. The skirts run long with a small train trailing along the ground – or they were hemmed to your desired length. In the 14th century, this gown can be worn alone, over an underdress or chemise, or beneath a sideless surcoat or houpelande.
Since ladies are rarely depicted from behind in illuminations, the exact closure method for these gowns is unknown. We have chosen to use a simple, back-lacing method common in both earlier and later centuries. A range of fit is given for each size because the lacings and placket in the back start at the top and extend to below the hip, providing flexibility within each size and a near-perfect fit to each individual within that size range. The placket is designed so that you are always completely covered no matter how tight or how to lose the dress is laced.
Women’s fashions of the 15th century consisted of a long gown, usually with sleeves, worn over a kirtle or undergown, with a linen chemise or smock worn next to the skin. A high-waisted style replaced the long-waisted silhouette of the previous period with fullness over the belly, often confined by a belt. A V-neck replaced the wide, shallow, scooped neckline, often cut low enough to reveal the decorated front of the kirtle beneath.
Various styles of over gowns were worn. The cotehardie fitted smoothly from the shoulders to the hips and then flared using inserted triangular gores. It featured sleeves tight to the elbow with hanging streamers or tippets. The tight fit was achieved with lacing or buttons. This style faded rapidly from fashion in favor of the houppelande, a full robe with a high collar and wide sleeves that had become fashionable around 1380 and remained so to mid-century.
The later houppelande had sleeves snug at the wrist, making a full “bag” sleeve. The bag sleeve was sometimes slashed in the front to allow the lower arm to reach through. Around 1450, northern Europe’s gown developed a low V-neck that showed a glimpse of the square-necked kirtle. The neckline could be filled in with a sheer linen partlet. Wide turn-backs like revers displayed a contrasting lining, frequently of fur or black velvet, and the sleeves might be cuffed to match. Sleeves were very long, covering half of the hand, and often highly decorated with embroidery. Fine sleeves were often transferred from one dress to another.
16th Century (Tudor Dress)
Women’s fashions of the earlier 16th century consisted of a long gown, usually with sleeves, worn over a kirtle or undergown, with a linen chemise or smock worn next to the skin. The high-waisted gown of the late medieval period evolved in several directions in different parts of Europe. In the German states and Bohemia, gowns remained short-waisted, tight-laced, but without corsets. The open-fronted gown laced over the kirtle or a stomacher or placard.
In France, England, and Flanders, the high waistline gradually descended to the natural waist in front (following Spanish fashion) and then to a V-shaped point. Cuffs grew larger and were elaborately trimmed. Hoop skirts or farthingales had appeared in Spain at the very end of the 15th century and spread to England and France over the next few decades. Corsets( called a pair of bodies)so appeared during this period. Various hats, caps, hoods, hairnets, and other headdresses were worn, with strong regional variations. Shoes were flat, with broad square toes.
17th Century (Elizabethan Dress)
As some of you may already know, Queen Elizabeth I inspired much of the fashion during this century known as the Golden Age, and the dress was called the Elizabethan style. In the early years of the new century, fashionable bodices had high necklines or extremely low, rounded necklines and short wings at the shoulders. Separate closed cartwheel ruffs were sometimes worn, with the standing collar, supported by a small wireframe or Supports used for more casual wear and becoming more common later. Long sleeves were worn with deep cuffs to match the ruff. The cartwheel ruff disappeared in fashionable England by 1613.
By the mid-1620s, styles were relaxing. Ruffs were discarded in favor of wired collars called rebatosin continental Europe and, later, wide, flat collars. By the 1630s and 1640s, collars were accompanied by kerchiefs similar to the linen kerchiefs worn by middle-class women in the previous century; often, the collar and kerchief were trimmed with matching lace.
Bodices were long-waisted at the beginning of the century, but waistlines rose steadily to the mid-1630s before beginning to drop again. In the second decade of the 17th century, short tabs developed attached to the bodice’s bottom covering the bum-roll, which supported the skirts. These tabs grew longer during the 1620s and were worn with a stomacher, filling the gap between the two front edges of the bodice. By 1640 the long tabs had almost disappeared, and a longer, smoother figure became fashionable: The waist returned to normal height at the back and sides with a low point at the front. The long, tight sleeves of the early 1600s grew shorter, fuller, and looser. A common style of the 1620s and 1630s was the virago sleeve, a full, slashed sleeve gathered into two puffs by a ribbon or other trim above the elbow. In France and England, lightweight, bright or pastel-colored satins replaced dark, heavy fabrics. As in other periods, painters tended to avoid the difficulty of painting striped fabrics; it is clear from inventories that these were common.
18th Century Gowns
Women’s clothing styles emphasized a conical shape of the torso while the shape of the skirts changed throughout the period. The hoop-skirts of the 1740s were left behind, but wide panniers (holding the skirts out at the side) came into style several times, and the aesthetic of a narrow inverted cone, achieved with boned stays, above full skirts remained.
The usual fashion of the years 1750–1780 was a low-necked gown (usually called in French a robe), worn over a petticoat. Most gowns had skirts that opened in front to show the petticoat worn beneath. If the gown’s bodice was open in front, the opening was filled in with a decorative stomacher, pinned to the gown over the laces or to the corset beneath.
Tight elbow-length sleeves were trimmed with frills or ruffles, and separate under-ruffles called engagements of lace, or fine linen was tacked to the smock or chemise sleeves. The neckline was trimmed with a fabric or lace ruffle, or a neckerchief called a fichu could be tucked into the low neckline. The robe à la française or sack-back gown featured back pleats hanging loosely from the neckline. A fitted bodice held the front of the gown closely to the figure. Toward the 1770s, an informal alternative to the gown was a jacket and petticoat costume, based on working-class fashion but executed in finer fabrics with a tighter fit.
19th Century (Victorian)
In the 1840s and 1850s, women’s gowns developed narrow and sloping shoulders, low and pointed waists, and bell-shaped skirts. Corsets, a knee-length chemise, and layers of flounced petticoats were worn under the gowns. By the 1850s, the number of petticoats was reduced, and the crinoline has worn the size of the skirts expanded. Day dresses had a solid bodice, and evening gowns had a very low neckline and were worn off the shoulder with sheer shawls and opera-length gloves.
Quoted From Commejadis. In the 1860s, the skirts became flattered at the front and projected out more behind the woman. Day dresses had wide pagoda sleeves and high necklines with lace or tatted collars. Evening dresses had low necklines and short sleeves and were worn with short gloves or fingerless lace or crocheted mitts. In the 1870s, uncorseted tea gowns were for informal entertaining at home and steadily grew in popularity. Bustles were used to replace the crinoline to hold the skirts up behind the