African American Fashion

  • 1700's clothing

    1700's clothing
    Most clothing from this time period was imported or made by a local seamstress rather than homemade. Typical of field hands during the 1800's was the final two photos on this entry. Light cotton nothing flashy and durable for long hard work days.
  • 1800's clothing

    1800's clothing
    Urban slaves had access to better clothing and since they were more likely to be house slaves, their clothing became a symbol of their master's wealth. In certain cases they even wore wigs and imported clothing, but this was only true of the extremely wealthy. The women often wore bonnets and aprons with long dresses.
  • 1890's

    After the abolishment of slavery, African American women were able to dress more similarly to white women with high buttoned up collars on dresses. Nothing was allowed to show just like the standards on white women at the time.
  • 1910

    Sleek straight hair coupled with long gowns was considered very stylish in this time period. It was also popular to embellish clothing with feathers, like in the second photo. Elbow length gloves or long sleeves were a staple in the women's closet of this time. The corset-less dress was designed and women were allowed to breathe. Jeans and denim were just gaining ground as a hardy material for long days and hard work.
  • 1920's

    The roaring 20's, a time of high fashion with furs and flappers. Accessories like long, sleek cigarette holders were very in. Dresses were just beginning to get shorter and women were gaining more control over what they wore. Dresses were detailed with beads and lots of flare.
  • 1930's

    Zoot suits were popular in the African American community. Watch chains, wide legged pants with a high waist and a longer coat made up this signature look. It's even mentioned in The Autobiography of Malcom X as a popular flashy style.
  • 1940's

    shoulder pads and belted dresses became prominent for women of the 40's. Makeup was just coming into play, but was limited for African American women. Even though the recession hindered the economy, Hollywood glamour was all the rage. Skirt lengths were raised to knee length. Women were suddenly allowed to wear pants due to factory work. Saddle shoes were a comfortable and practical shoe for everyday wear. Zoot suits were banned
  • 1950's

    Suits became casual wear for African American men in the 50's. While white men's suites focused on the finish, black's suits were focused on the details with emphasis on asscessories like watches glasses and belts. One of the fashion icons of this time was Miles Davis, a prominate trumpit player
  • 1960's

    Felt hats and long sleek dresses were sported on most events during this time period. Fashion became more utilitarian as women entered the workforce for WWII with simpler cuts and shorter hair.Then of course there were the outfits of the Black Panthers who observed the police to try and prevent police brutality.
  • 1970's

    Fringe and bellbottoms reigned supreme in this hippy era of fashion. Popularized by Jimi Hendrix, vests, jean jackets and on special occasion silk shirts were all very trendy items.
  • 1980's

    Fanny packs slogan tee shirts, puffy jackets and brightly colored clothing dominated this era. Accessories like oversized earrings, scrunchies and big hair, even for blacks. The afro came into style.
  • 1990's

    Long braids for African American women, backwards hats and flat tops for men. rollerskating also became very popular. Wallet chains peeking out of baggy jeans and bandanas were also rocked during this time, though bandanas could also signaled which gang or hip hop artist you had aligned yourself with. Combat boots were also seen as causal wear. Portable music devices were also cool at the time, whether is was a boombox or a walkman