Women’s fashion generally consisted of long dresses with long sleeves. High-waisted dresses with belts and v-necks replaced the old scooped-neck long-waisted silhouettes.
Jan 1, 1450
V-Neck Dresses, 1450's
The dress of northern Europe developed a low V-neck that showed a glimpse of the square-necked kirtle. The neckline could be filled in with a sheer linen partlet.
Jan 1, 1470
Spanish Hoop Skirts, 1470's
Two uniquely Spanish fashions appear from the 1470s. The verdugada (or verdugado) was a dress with a bell-shaped hoop skirt with visible casings stiffened with reeds, which would become the farthingale.
Jan 1, 1480
Ripple Hairstyles, 1480's
Toward the 1480s women wore chin-length sections of hair in loose waves or ripples over the ears (a style that would inspire "vintage" hair fashions in the 1620s and '30s and again in the 1840s and 1850s).
Jan 1, 1500
Wide Silhouettes w/ Sleeves, 1500's
The tall, narrow lines of the late Medieval period were replaced with a wider silhouette, conical for women widening at the hips. Sleeves were the center of attention, and were puffed, slashed, cuffed, and turned back to reveal contrasting linings.
Jan 1, 1525
German Styles Emerge, Half 16th Cent.
German dress varied widely from the fashion worn in other parts of Europe. Skirts were cut separately from bodices, though often sewn together, and the open-fronted dress laced over a kirtle with a wide band of rich fabric, often jeweled and embroidered, across the bust.
Jan 1, 1530
Square-Necked Dresses, 1530's
From the 1530s, French and English fashions featured an open, square-necked dress with long sleeves fitted smoothly over a tight corset or pair of bodies and a farthingale.
Full Round Sleeves, end of 1500's
At the very end of the period, full round sleeves (perhaps derived from Italian fashions) began to replace the flaring trumpet sleeves, which disappeared by the later 1550s.
Solid-Color Satins w/ Looped Trim & Rosettes, 1620's
Beginning in the 1620s, surface ornaments fell out of fashion in favour of solid-colour satins. Functional ribbon bows or points switched to elaborate masses of rosettes and looped trim.
Virago Sleeve, 1620's-1630's
A common style of 1620s and 1630s was the virago sleeve, a full, slashed sleeve gathered into two puffs by a ribbon or other trim above the elbow.
Ruffs Disappear in Favor of Wired Collars, mid 1620's
By the mid-1620s, styles were less constricting. Ruffs were discarded in favor of wired collars which were called 'rebatos' in continental Europe and, later, wide, flat collars.
Sumptuary Laws of 1629 and 1633
Louis XIII of France issued sumptuary laws in 1629 and 1633 that prohibited lace, gold trim, and lavish embroidery for all but the highest nobility, and restricting puffs, slashes, and bunches of ribbon.
Collars Accompanied by Kerchiefs,1630's - 1640's
By the 1630s and 1640s, the collars were accompanied by kerchiefs; often the collar and kerchief were trimmed with matching lace.
Long, Lean Silhouettes, 1650's
The broad, high-waisted silhouette of the previous cent. was replaced by a long, lean line with a low waist.
The mantua or manteau was a new fashion that arose in the 1680s. Instead of a bodice and skirt cut separately, the mantua hung from the shoulders to the floor. It was ideal for showing the designs of the new elaborately patterned silks that replaced the solid-colored satins popular in mid-century.
Frontages, 1690's - early 1700's
Fontanges, frilly caps of lace wired to stand in vertical tiers with streamers to either side, were named for a mistress of the French King. These caps were popular from the 1690s into the first few years of the 18th century.
Wider Silhouettes, 1700's - 1750's
Distinction was made in this period between full dress worn at Court and for formal occasions, and undress or everyday, daytime clothes. A widening of the silhouette was also established.
Petticoats Replace Mantua's, early 1700's
A closed (or "round") petticoat, sometimes worn with an apron, replaced the open draped mantua skirt of the previous period. This formal style then gave way to more relaxed fashions. Petticoat refers to skirt-like undergarments worn for warmth or to give the skirt or dress the desired fashionable shape. In this context a
Narrowing Sleeves, 1740's
Sleeves became narrower as the period progressed, with a frill at the elbow, and elaborate separate ruffles called engageantes were tacked to the shift sleeves, in a fashion that would persist into the 1770s.
High Heels, 1750's to next cent.
Shoes with a high, curved heels and pointed toes became the style of shoe that would remain popular well into the next period.
Peak of Hoop Skirts
Hoop Skirts reach their peak, and fullest size. They were often replaced by "false hips."
Increasing Uncomfort, 1750's onward
Fashion becomes even more strict. Corsets are tightened beyond belief, and some dress fabrics cannot even be washed.
Extreme Wigs, 1770's
By the 1770s extreme hairstyles and wigs had come into fashion. This was influenced by Marie Antionette.
Open-Necked Gowns w/ Petticoats, later 18th cent.
Most gowns of this later 18th cent. had skirts that opened in front to show the petticoat worn beneath. If the bodice of the gown was open in front, the opening was filled in with a decorative stomacher, pinned to the gown over the laces or to the corset beneath.
Beginning of Self-Expression through Fashion, beg. 1800's
In the aftermath of the French Revolution, no one wanted to appear to be a member of the French Aristocracy (class), and people began using clothing more as a form of individual expression of the true-self than as a pure indication of social status. Hygiene also improved.
Temporary More Natural Figures Emphasized, 1800's
Women's fashions followed classical ideals, and tightly laced corsets were temporarily abandoned in favor of a high-waisted, natural figure.
Empire Waists Established
Empire silhouette — dresses were closely fitted to the torso just under the bust, falling loosely below. Without corsets, chemise dresses displayed the long line of the body, as well as the curves of the female torso.
Flat, Slipper-like Shoes, 1800's cont.
Thin, flat fabric (silk or velvet) or leather slippers were generally worn, replacing the previous high-heels.
Re-adopting of the Tight Corset & Full Skirts, 1820's
Re-adopted elements that had been characteristic of most of the 18th century (and were to be characteristic of the remainder of the 19th century), such as full skirts and clearly visible corseting of the natural waist. Bright red and yellow colors were favored.
Empasis on Width & Sleeves, 1830's
New emphasis on width, initially at the shoulder and later in the hips. Women's dress featured larger sleeves than were worn in any period & was accompanied with elaborate hairstyles and large hats.
Romanticism's Influence, increasing in 1830s-1840s
Romanticism influenced fashion in terms of light, more floral patterns, green fabric, and a more natural feel.
Bell Skirts, 1840's
Skirts develop a bell shape, achieved mainly through layers of petticoats. This unfortunately added increased weight and uncomfortability,
Small Bags, 1840's
Small bags became popular in the mid-1840's.
Victorian Dress Reform Begins, 1851
New England activist Libby Miller dresses in loose trousers gathered at the ankles, topped by a short dress or skirt and vest. There is not much widespread impact made, through promoted. Dubbed "Bloomer Suit".
Lighter Skirts, 1856
Steel cage crinoline provided an expandion of the skirt still further, but the skirts layed more smoothly over the petticoat and hoops. This made the skirts much less heavy because of the removal of many layers.
Shaped-Paneled Skirts; Dyes, 1860's
Skirts were now assembled of shaped panels. Artificial dyes were also discovered and revered. Also, looped up overskirts revealed matching or contrasting underskirts.
Garibaldi Jacket, 1860's
The "Garibaldi jacket" was popularized by Empress Eugénie of France. The bright red woolen garments featured black embroidery or braid and military details.
Skirts Fullest in Rear, 1870's
The fullness of the skirt moves to the rear, where elaborately draped overskirts are held in place by tapes and supported by a bustle.
Slimmer, Tighter Dress Design, later 1870's
The full rear dress design was succeeded by a tight-fitting silhouette with fullness as low as the knees and tighter sleeves. The rear was still emphasized, but not as much.
The fullness of the rear came to be balanced with a fuller, lower chest (with the help of corsets), thus creating a more S-shaped form.
Rational Dress Society, 1881
The Rational Dress Society was an organisation founded in 1881 in London. The organization protested against any fashion that limited body movement, harmed the body, or caused discomfort.
More Natural Falling Dresses, early 1890's
Early 1890s dresses had tight bodices with skirts gathered at the waist, falling more naturally over the hips.
Women's Sportswear, 1890's
Changing attitudes about acceptable activities for women also made sportswear popular for women, with such notable examples as the bicycling dress and the tennis dress.
Cinched Sleeves, mid 1890's
Introducton of leg o'mutton sleeves, which grew in size each year until they disappeared in about 1906. These sleeves poufed out until the forearm, elbow, or wrist where they cinched.
Columnar Silhouette, 1900's
A new, columnar silhouette introduced in Paris signaled the approaching abandonment of the corset as a staple.
Beginning of Haute Couture, 1900's
Rise of 'haute couture' beginning in Paris.
Hobble Skirts, 1914
The fashion silhouette became much more lithe, fluid and soft in the 1910's. "Hobble" skirts were widest at the hips and very narrow at the ankle.
World War I's Influence, 1914-close.
Women dropped their underskirts from their tunic - and - skirt comonations, shortening their looks. They simplified their outfits to make working more practical. Shoes also became more sensible.
Changing Silhouettes to Allow More Motion, 1920's
Roaring 20's begin. The tubular dresses of the teens evolve into a similar silhouettes that now showed shorter skirts with pleats, gathers, or slits to allow a greater range of motion.
Iconic Flapper Dresses, 1924
"Flapper" dresses of 1924
Evolution of Laidback Styles, 1920's
Women: cut their hair into bobs, abandoned corsets, wore more boyish clothing (chemise or camisole and bloomers; later pants/shorts), and low waisted looks. Coco Chanel was one of the 1st women to wear trousers.
"Sunburns," early 1930's
Suntans (called at the time "sunburns") became fashionable in the early 1930s.
Depression Effects, 1930's
The Depression took its toll on the more lighthearted feel of the early 1920's. For women, skirts became longer and the waist-line returned up to its normal position in an attempt to bring back the traditional "womanly" look.
Empasis on Back, late 1930's
Emphasis moved to the back, with halter necklines and high-necked but backless gowns with sleeves.
World War II Fashion, 1940's-close
In Britain, clothing was strictly rationed, with a system of "points", and the Board of Trade issued regulations for "Utility Clothes." Most women wore skirts at or near knee-length, with simply cut shirts and square-shouldered jackets. 'Eisenhower jackets' that were bloused at the chest and fitted at the waist with a belt became popular.
New Trends, 1945
Teens began to wear loose, poncho-like sweaters called 'sloppy joes'. The, full, gathered skirts, known as the 'dirndl skirt', became popular as well. The 'clutch coat,' ensembles, and the hankercheif shirt also came to be popular.