Fashion Historians Resources discussion

Favorite Era in Fashion History?

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message 1: by Kayla (new)

Kayla (bookworm17) Hey everyone! I thought I would try to get a discussion going on what your favorite era in fashion history is. Do you like the romantic Victorian looks, or do you prefer the youthful looks of the Roaring Twenties? The more conservative fifties, or the shocking days of the miniskirt in the sixties?

Share your ideas!

message 2: by Alaina (last edited Sep 21, 2008 08:51AM) (new)

Alaina (motozulli) | 7 comments At the moment, I'm most interested in the 1840s. Mostly because it's been ignored or disdained by virtually all fashion historians. I see it as more than just a dull transition period from the flamboyance of the 1830s to the crinoline period. The 1840s had beauty in its own right, with as much fashion and change and meaning as any other decade/period.

Of course, 1840s is no fun to wear in present day, so for my contemporary wardrobe I'm enamored of the 1920s and 30s. For Halloween I'm doing a reproduction of the 1926-7 orange velvet evening dress in Modern fashion in Detail, pg 108.


message 3: by Kayla (new)

Kayla (bookworm17) That's awesome! I really love the 19th century when it comes to fashion. I don't know much about the 1840's, but now that you posted what you did, I'll have to do some research and learn some more about it!

I also love the Twenties and Thirties. I love the flapper styles. It ties in nicely with another interest of mine, true crime of the 20's and 30's. I bet your Halloween reproduction will look fabulous; it sounds gorgeous!

message 4: by Tove (new)

Tove | 4 comments Lately I've been really interested in the "modern" steampunk aesthetic (think The League of Extraordinary Gentleman) which has led me back to original late Victorian fashion upon which most of steampunk fashion is based. I have become totally obsessed with bustles, which I want to attach to everything I own. Speaking of, does anyone have a good pattern source for a detachable bustle?

That said, I will never loose my affinity for the fashion of the skimpy 20s, the elegant draped 30s, or the sharp Noir angles of the 40s.

message 5: by Alaina (new)

Alaina (motozulli) | 7 comments I promised my wife a bustle for Halloween and I intend to try several styles, so I will report back with my experiences by Oct 30!

message 6: by Jenna (last edited May 18, 2009 08:07AM) (new)

Jenna | 4 comments I love some of the "New Woman" look of the 1890s. Like the John Singer Sargeant portrait
Mr and Mrs John Phelps Stokes

message 7: by Oana (new)

Oana | 3 comments Alaina wrote: "At the moment, I'm most interested in the 1840s. Mostly because it's been ignored or disdained by virtually all fashion historians. I see it as more than just a dull transition period from the fl..."

Ok, Alaina, I looked up women's fashions of the 1840s because I want to see what was ridiculed about them. Aside from the sausage curls - a fellow history-minded friend styled my hair with them in university and I was horrified - what is so bad about the 1840s?

message 8: by Alaina (new)

Alaina (motozulli) | 7 comments Oana wrote: what is so bad about the 1840s?

My overall impression from fashion historians is that the 1840s was the epitome of the drooping Victorian woman. Woman on a pedestal as a wilting flower. Repressive (tightly laced corsets), ungainly (all those petticoats!), and boring (muted colors, little ornamentation).

Oh, sausage curls. I don't know if they consciously borrowed that style from the 1660s, but I like to think they did.

message 9: by Oana (new)

Oana | 3 comments Wait, didn't corsets get worse as the nineteenth century went on?

As for sausage curls, if they come back in style roughly every 200 years, are we safe in our lifetimes?

message 10: by Alaina (new)

Alaina (motozulli) | 7 comments I'm hoping for sausage curls in the ext ten years. They flatter my face.

Yeah, corsets got a lot worse. I haven't yet figured out what exactly was the cause of all the strife about tightlacing in the 1840s. It could have been just a natural reaction to corsets coming back into style- combined with some anxiety about the new shape.

Technically, tightlacing wasn't really done (or possible) until later in the century. I haven't seen any pre-1860s corsets that looked capable of doing anything awful. 1840s corsets, as far as I can tell, had the straight busk up the center (possibly uncomfortable) and somewhat boned. Boning may have been what set people off on their moral tirades- for several decades prior, corsets (stays) were stiffened with mostly cord.

message 11: by Oana (new)

Oana | 3 comments I can't remember the exact date, but once grommets were invented, the lacing on corsets could be pulled tighter without ripping the cloth. It was in either the late 1820s or the late 1830s (I wrote a museum tour on a corset exhibit we had a while back).

So the 1840s were the time when the boning and the grommets pushed corsets over the edge?

message 12: by Alaina (new)

Alaina (motozulli) | 7 comments Having worn corsets a great deal, I would say yes, the development of metal eyelets/grommets and the increased use in boning was what made the new silhouette possible. I don't think those innovations drove the style, they only made it easier and cheaper to achieve. Fashion Illustrations from the 1840s often show a quite small waist, but nothing in my research has shown that as a reality, compared to the way certain fashion models and fashionable women achieved a near-perfect line in, say, the early 1900s.

For comparison, this c. late 1890s photo:
and late 1890s fashion plate:

c. 1850 photo:
1849 fashion plate:

The comparison isn't perfect, because I'm finding it very difficult to find a photograph of a suitably fashionable woman of the 1840s (i.e. royalty or respected celebrities).

Anyone else feel free to chime in here! These are all just my impressions, no serious scholarly analysis.

message 13: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) I love the 1930's! I have been looking for a book that really explores this time so if you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it!!!

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