Fashion History Essay

Fashion History

            According to Sloan (1987), Fashion can be defined as the prevailing mode or customary style of clothing. Fashion can reflect the surroundings of man, events that has happened, and the customs of the people who are wearing it. Sloan (1987) also noted wars, conquests, laws, the arts and popular personalities have influenced the history of fashion. According to the website eras of elegance, during the ancient times, it can noted that the designs of clothing were very simple and practicality is more important than style, however there are some cultures that have style preferences and social classes distinction. This is evident in Ancient Egypt, workers only use plain loin cloth however, rulers usually wear fans of feathers of palm leaf on their heads, their robes and their jewelry. In the middle ages, people have been travelling to places and have known several customs and fashion as they go from one place to another. Charlemagne, who had been crowned emperor in 800 B.C., had established textile factories across Europe (Sloan, 1987). He had been influenced by the call of fashion to build this factories for the people. Crusaders influenced pilgrims to go to the Holy Land. This pilgrims brought to Europe the Oriental fashion.

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            In the Renaissance period (1450-1600), designs had become more elaborate. Design motifs were based on architecture. During this time, Queen Elizabeth of England and Catherine de Medici of Florence greatly influenced Fashion. Both women were fond of wearing grand apparel. Elizabeth had given aid to the Flemish weavers when Spain had invaded. Catherine was a member of a family of textile traders, which made Italy the focal point of goods that flowed throughout Europe. In the 17th century (1600-1750), from the days of Louis XIV to all Europe except Spain, Europe had followed French Fashions. During this time, a shift of emphasis of culture had happened. From Religious, it shifted to secular. France under Louis XIV and Louis XV achieved a dominant position in world affairs and fashions. Thus, since they were holding the dominant position then, the court needs to conform to the right dress of the dominant group.

            In the next era (1812-1830), the Regency Era, French Fashion was cut because of the turbulent days of the Commune. Hairstyles were cut short and combed back as compared to the elaborate hairdressing from before. During this period Englishmen’s Fashion had become popular. Leaders turn to Great Britain for the style of leadership and fashion followed suit. The Victorian Era (1839-1901) resurfaced in the reign of Queen Victoria. This era had been influenced by the romantic mood of literature Industrial Revolution in Britain and expansion of the United States had brought the middle class interested in fashions in furniture, housing and houses. Fashion magazines had been developed in France and Britain. During this time, influence of couture had become evident. Sewing Machine was invented in 1846, and dresses sewn by machine became popular. It had become a fashion to have many changes of dresses. This was greatly influenced by the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie and the Englishman Charles Worth as her designer (1820-1860). It was said that the Empress Eugenie had taken 500 different costumes in the opening of the Suez Canal in 1959.

            In the next four decades (1860-1900), fashion had dramatically changed from huge skirts to gored skirts with fullness at the back. Charles Worth designed this new fashion statement. Fashion changes occurred slowly. Riding habits and beautifully tailored suits for women were created. Empress Eugenie is again the fashion icon during this era. Sportswear and ready-to-wear clothes had been introduced in this time. During this time the Gibson Girl had been introduced by Charles Dana Gibson. The Gibson Girl was known as a sporty, competitive and beautiful. This had set fashion trends in both America and the Europe

            In the 1900-1920, the French had become the dominant leader, World War I started and fashion designs had become more practical thus, clothing had become more suitable to wartime living. Scarcity of materials had been experienced. After the war in the years 1920-1930, women celebrated liberties and more daring than before. During this time women were granted to vote. This is evident in the emergence of the short-skirt look. Shoe fashions had also become popular and this was further influenced by the dance Charleston, a dance that demanded a securely fastened shoe with a low heel and closed toe. In the next decades, changes in fashion is further influenced by the political events such as the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the Depression. Softer feminine style replaced the boyish looks in the later decades. The entertainment history had become a fashion trend.  During the World War II in the 1940s, the government confiscated several materials used in creating dresses. Designer made a new style, cardigan dresses and transformation of men’s suit to ladies’ suit was done. In the 60’s, Jackie Kennedy Look had been popular and spread fast and wide after the election, every fashion sketch looked like her, the Beatles also made a fashion statement and had set up a fashion trend. In the 1970’s can be described as the anything goes era. Personalities who had influenced this era were Elvis Presley, the movie Charlies Angels and the like. The 80’s is known as the decade of excess, this era was greatly influenced by the pop music singers such as Madonna and Mchammer. In the 90’s, this had become the combination all fashions in the 20th century.

            As can be seen, fashion had greatly influenced the way of living of the people in each era. This had been the trend until now. Being in fashion means being in tune with the environment around us. Before being out of fashion is a crime. Nowadays, people would rather follow their sense of style than  the trends because of impracticality and the suitability of the fashion.

WORKS CITED

Sloan, Alfred Jr., “Fashion and Clothing”. Colliers’ Encyclopaedia  International Ed. 1987

Yeager, J., “History of Fashion from 1900 to 1980”, 2007, American Vintage Blues, 30 July

2007 < http://www.vintageblues.com/history.htm>

Eras of Elegance., “A Brief History of Fashion”, 2000, Eras of Elegance Inc., 30 July 2007

< http://www.erasofelegance.com/history.html>