By the 1820’s waists were at waist level and they were so tight that women wore extremely tight-laced corsets to help outline their figure. Accessories were a must with bracelets, shawls, and parasols completing the outfit.
Some thirty years later a man’s outfit consisted of a white shirt, cravat, morning coat and waistcoat. A gentleman grew a moustache and sideburns; he sported a pocket watch on a heavy gold chain to complete the ensemble.
At the end of the century extremely wide skirts became the order of the day and women resorted to wearing a crinoline cage under their skirts. The contraption was so wide that women two were unable to sit beside one another. However it did allow them to wear laced trimmed pantaloons underneath, and this led to the entrance of the bloomer – an invention of New York woman Amelia J Bloomer.
Man-made fibres such as artificial silk and rayon were invented in the late 19th Century. The Edwardian era saw the return of the corset and the introduction of the brassiere for women and long-john pants and vests for men. Young Edwardian male trendsetters were seen about town in a double-breasted jacket, trousers with a crease along the front of the leg, a bow tie or narrow straight tie. Toppers, straw hats and boaters were worn by men from every class but the cloth cap was labelled working class headgear.
The shirt-waister blouse travelled the Atlantic to the UK in 1905. They were usually crepe de chine or Japanese silk and trimmed and inset with lace and embroidery and worn with a plain skirt.
In the first half of the 1900’s flappers appeared, curves disappeared, women got into trousers and hair was either worn in a bob or shingled. Skirts rose, ankles were displayed, eyebrows pencilled, and lips rouged. The styles changed rapidly and very soon busts were out and women wore garments called flatteners under their clothing in an attempt to appear flat chested.