HISTORY OF EUROPEAN fashion clothing 1900-45

žThe 20th century is considered by many to be one of the most transforming and developing centuries humankind has ever experienced.

žDuring the 20th century the pace of change occurred by years, and sometimes months. Society changed the way we lived, and we changed society.

žThe first decade of the 1900s lit the spark of flame. Here’s the 20th Century Fashion History: 1900 -1945.


žBlouses and dresses were full in front and puffed into a pigeon breast shape of the early 20th century. žTall stiff collar characterize the period. Neckline were supported by very high boned  collar. žThe fashion houses of  the Paris  began to show a new silhouette, with thicker waist, flattered bust, narrower hip. žBeginning of 1920’s it was fashionable for women to wear high waisted cloth. žParisian countries introduced bias-cut into their design, which enhance the fabric to skin over the body. žLong, simple and clinging evening gown were popular at that time. As the result of war, severe fabric shortage, due to which minimum fabric were used or less pleats and no trimmings in dress.

žAs the result of war, severe fabric shortage, due to which minimum fabric were used or less pleats and no trimmings in dress. žFrom 1942 onwards some clothes were made under the government Utility Scheme that Rationed material. žThey are identifiable by ‘CC41’ stamp  (Civilian Clothing Act of 1941) In 1947, Christian Dior introduced his ‘New Look’ which revolutionized 1940’s.

Sportswear and Tailored Clothing

ž Revolving from Victorian era to Edwardian era which started a new lifestyle and this time brought a new fashion trend known as the “New  Women”. žNew Women were those women who came out from domestic circle and to pursue higher education like office, job, and also participating in sports or outdoor sports. žTailored suits became more popular for the women as they were working in white collar. žThe outfit worn by the typical college girl was a skirt that are usually shorter than current fashion, and a shirt waist , which is the best described as the equivalent of jeans and  T-shirt today. During the mid to late 1930s, swimsuits became more revealing than those of the 1920s, and often featured lower necklines and no sleeves. These were made from nylon and rayon instead of the traditional wool.


Headgear & Hairstyle

žTwo new style of headgear which were popular- motoring veil for driving, sailor hat for tennis matches or for bicycling. žGibson girl hairstyle was also popular. Masses of wavy hair were fashionable. žHuge, broad-brimmed hat were worn in mid-decade. Large hat were worn with evening wear. žAlso hair was worn in center parting, often looped around pad and false hair to create volume.


žThere were shoes for every occasion oxford for a tailored costume, slippers with straps, for festive occasion or pumps with pearl buckles, and finally boot for winter season. žAt the beginning of 1900s shoes still maintained the same design of the Victorian Era. žThese shoes were commonly made or found in seal skin or Moroccan leather.


žIt was prominent, including large brooches and long string of pearls.

Rise in Haute Couture

žThis decade marked the full flowering of Parisian haute couture has the right to decide the style and silhouette for women of all classes. žThe new style began like form-fitting gown with high and undefined waist, or ankle length skirts are long tunic like jackets. žThe Paris correspondent for Vogue described this new look  as “straighter and straighter”.


žThe sack coat or lounge coat continued to replace the frock coat for most formal and semi-formal occasion. žTrousers were shorter than before, often had turn-ups and cuffs, and were creased front and back using the new trouser press. žThe Norfolk jacket remained fashionable for shooting and rugged outdoor pursuits. žThe cutaway morning coat was still worn for formal day occasion in Europe. ž At evening party, they worn evening  jacket  with white bow tie, and shirt with winged collar.

žDinner jacket was worn with a white shirt and dark tie, knee length topcoat and calf overcoat were  worn in winter. žFormal dresses shirt turned  over or pressed into ‘wings’. The usual necktie was a narrow four-in-hand. Ascot tie were worn with formal day dress and while bow tie with evening dress. žFrom 1914, mostly men were found in military uniform. Men wore a plain or simply patterned modern knot tie. žIn 1930, men generally worn 3- piece suits for work or formal occasion only. After 1945, many men leaving the armed force were issued with a de-mob suit.


Headgear & Hairstyle

žTop hats remained a requirement for upper class formal wear; two most popular hat were worn at that time was Homburgs and bowler hats. žAs hat were worn with lounge  or sack suits, and flat straw boaters were worn for casual occasion. žCloth cap were also popular amongst the working class. žHair was cut very short at the sides, and most men were clean shaven. Beards were now reserved for mainly older men.


žShoes for men were mostly over the ankle. Toe cap, lace up boot in black, gray, or brown were the most commonly used. žIn the Edwardian times basic lace up oxford shoes were introduced.


žGirl fashion for this time period imitated older women of the same time. They wore dresses of knee length, with trimming at the hem such as a lace of embroidery. žTheir hair are generally worn long and curly with decoration of ribbon. They also wore kidskin and crochet  gloves. žBonnets were being replaced at that time so girls wear a hat at that time. žYoung boys found comfort in Russian style blouses. žFashionable clothing for boys included sailor suits, consisting of a shirt with sailor collar and trousers. ž

Working Clothes

žBoth men and women working on war service wore practical trousers or overalls. Women bundled their hair up in caps, scarves.

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