History of Fashion – Introduction

This section will take you through the history and importance of the decades of fashion from the 1930s to the 1990s. Here are some interesting videos.

The 19th-Century industrial Revolution created the powerful middle classes, fashion began to cater for this new market and by the beginning of the 20th -century prosperous middle class and aristocratic dressing had merged into a general upper-class style.

World wars, revolutions and the rapid social changes of the last 100 years have produced more changes in the way people dressed than any comparable period in history.



In those 100 years we have seen women’s skirts trailing the streets and so short they barely covered the seat. Breasts have been exaggerated until they looked like deformities, and bound to make them as flat as a thin man’s chest. Shoulders have been padded out like Harlem Globetrotters and sloped like bottle-tops. Women’s hair has been grown to waist length and swept on top of the head over false pads, less than 15 years later it was shorn like an army recruit.



Men have dressed to look affluent and reliable and to appear deliberately poor and ragged. Suede shoes have been thought effeminate and shoulder-length curls manly enough for construction workers.



Fashion, like writing, humour and music, is a social reflection; it is transitory. Clothes always suit the period and look right at the time. One could not imagine the stately Edwardian women in the skimpy fashions of the twenties, the flappers in Dior’s New Look of the late forties, or the 1960s Swingers in the ethnic layers of the seventies. The social changes of the century are mirrored by changes in fashion, each decade unravels it’s own fascinating character.