1890s in fashion

1890s in fashion

Fashion in the 1890s in European and European-influenced countries is characterized by long elegant lines, tall collars, and the rise of sportswear.

Women's fashions

Fashionable women's clothing styles shed some of the extravagances of previous decades (so that skirts were neither crinolined as in the 1850s, nor protrudingly bustled in back as in the late 1860s and mid-1880s, nor tight as in the late 1870s), but corseting continued unmitigated, or even slightly increased in severity. Early 1890s dresses consisted of a tight bodice with the skirt gathered at the waist and falling more naturally over the hips and undergarments than in previous years.

The mid 1890s introduced leg o'mutton sleeves, which grew in size each year until they disappeared in about 1896. During the same period of the mid '90s, skirts took on an A-line silhouette that was almost bell-like. The late 1890s returned to the tighter sleeves often with small puffs or ruffles capping the shoulder but fitted to the wrist. Skirts took on a trumpet shape, fitting more closely over the hip and flaring just above the knee. Corsets in the 1890s helped define the hourglass figure as immortalized by artist Charles Dana Gibson. In the very late 1890s the corset elongated, giving the women a slight S-curve silhouette that would be popular well into the Edwardian era.

Sportswear and tailored fashions

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.

Unfussy, tailored clothes were worn for outdoor activities and traveling. The shirtwaist, a costume with a bodice or "waist" tailored like a man's shirt with a high collar, was adopted for informal daywear and became the uniform of working women. Walking suits featured ankle-length skirts with matching jackets. The notion of "rational dress" for women's health was a widely discussed topic in 1891, which led to the development of sports dress. This included ample skirts with a belted blouse for hockey. In addition, cycling became very popular and led to the development of "cycling costumes", which were shorter skirts or "bloomers" which were Turkish trouser style outfits. By the 1890s, women bicyclists increasingly wore bloomers in public and in the company of men as well as other women. Bloomers seem to have been more commonly worn in Paris than in England or the United States and became quite popular and fashionable. Swimwear was also developed, usually made of navy blue with a long tunic over full knickers.

Influence of aesthetic dress

The 1890s in both Europe and North America saw growing acceptance of artistic or aesthetic dress as mainstream fashion, especially in the adoption of the uncorseted tea gown for at-home wear. In US in this period, "Dress, the Jenness Miller Magazine" (1887-1898) [http://costume.osu.edu/Reforming_Fashion/artistic_dress.htm] , reported that tea gowns were being worn outside the home for the first time in fashionable summer resorts.

Style Gallery 1890-96

# wears a high-necked day gown with puffed elbow-length sleeves and a fabric belt or sash, Russia, 1890-92.
# of 1892 have low waists and high necklines. Sleeves have a high, gathered sleeve-head and are fitted to the lower arm. Skirts are fuller in back than front.
# of 1892-3 feature short or elbow-length full, puffed sleeves and floral trimmings.
# has full upper sleeves and back fullness in the skirt.
# of 1894 show shorter skirts and matching jackets with leg o' mutton sleeves.
# of 1895 shows a fashionable bicycle suit.
#, 1895. The tight belt falls near the natural waistline.
# in 1896

Style Gallery 1897-99

# wears her hair in a knot on top of her head. Her black gown and her daughter's grey dress (probably mourning attire) have fashionable leg o' mutton sleeves, 1897.
# wears a white gown with puffed elbow-length sleeves and ribbon bows. Her hair is parted in the center and poufed casually at her temples, 1897.
# shows an idealized form of the fashionable figure. The jacket has an asymmetrical closure and new, smaller sleeve puffs.
# of 1898 have nautical details such as sailor collars.
# shows a short, wide puff at the shoulder over a long, tight sleeve.
# shows the narrow, gored skirt and more natural shoulder of the turn of the century (as well as the results of "S-bend" corseting).
# of 1899 shows "Watteau back" and frothy trim.
# in Watteau-backed tea gowns with high sashed waists, 1899.


# satirizes the liberating effects of wearing bloomers.

Men's fashion

The overall silhouette of the 1890s was long, lean, and athletic. Hair was generally worn short, often with a pointed beard and generous moustache.

Coats, jackets, and trousers

By the 1890s, the sack coat (UK lounge coat) was fast replacing the frock coat for most informal and semi-formal occasions. Three-piece suits consisting of a sack coat with matching waistcoat (U.S. "vest") and trousers were worn, [were matching coat and waistcoat with contrasting trousers.

Contrasting waistcoats were popular, and could be made with or without collars and lapels. The usual style was single-breasted.

The blazer, a navy blue or brightly-colored or striped flannel coat cut like a sack coat with patch pockets and brass buttons, was worn for sports, sailing, and other casual activities.

The Norfolk jacket remained fashionable for shooting and rugged outdoor pursuits. It was made of sturdy tweed or similar fabric and featured paired box pleats over the chest and back, with a fabric belt. Worn with matching breeches or (U.S. knickerbockers, it became the "Norfolk suit", suitable for bicycling or golf with knee-length stockings and low shoes, or for hunting with sturdy boots or shoes with leather gaiters.

The cutaway morning coat was still worn for formal day occasions in Europe and major cities elsewhere.

The most formal evening dress remained a dark tail coat and trousers with a dark or light waistcoat. Evening wear was worn with a white bow tie and a shirt with a winged collar.

The less formal dinner jacket or tuxedo, which featured a shawl collar with silk or satin facings, now generally had a single button. Dinner jackets were appropriate formal wear when "dressing for dinner" at home or at a men's club. The dinner jacket was worn with a white shirt and a dark tie.

Knee-length topcoats, often with contrasting velvet or fur collars, and calf-length overcoats were worn in winter.

hirts and neckties

Shirt collars were turned over or pressed into "wings", and became taller through the decade. Dress shirts had stiff fronts, sometimes decorated with shirt studs and buttoned up the back. Striped shirts were popular for informal occasions.

The usual necktie was a four-in-hand or an Ascot tie, made up as a neckband with wide wings attached and worn with a stickpin, but the 1890s also saw the return of the bow tie (in various proportions) for day dress.


As earlier in the century, top hats remained a requirement for upper class formal wear; bowlers and soft felt hats in a variety of shapes were worn for more casual occasions, and flat straw boaters were worn for yachting and at the seashore.

tyle gallery

# in formal evening dress, c. 1890.
#, in day dress: dark coat and waiscoat, dark red ascot, and tall collar, c. 1890. This picture shows the long, lean silhouette in fashion at this time.
#, 1890s.
# over a gray suit, 1895.
#, 1896.
# wears breeches and high boots with a reddish collared waistcoat and a brown coat. Even with this casual outdoor costume, he wears a tie, 1898.

Children's fashion

Working-class fashions


# [http://costume.osu.edu/Reforming_Fashion/artistic_dress.htm Reforming Fashion 1850-1914]


*Arnold, Janet: "Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C.1860-1940", Wace 1966, Macmillan 1972. Revised metric edition, Drama Books 1977. ISBN 0-89676-027-8

*Ashelford, Jane: "The Art of Dress: Clothing and Society 1500-1914", Abrams, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6317-5

*Nunn, Joan: "Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000," 2nd edition, A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd; Chicago: New Amsterdam Books, 2000. (Excerpts online at [http://www.victorianweb.org The Victorian Web] )

*Payne, Blanche: "History of Costume from the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century", Harper & Row, 1965. No ISBN for this edition; ASIN B0006BMNFS

*Norris, Herbert, and Oswald Curtis. "Nineteenth Century Costume and Fashion" Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, INC., 1998. 227-229.

*Steele, Valerie: "Paris Fashion: A Cultural History" Second Edition. New York: Berg, 1998. 175-176.

External links

* [http://www.fashion-era.com/ Fashion-era]
* [http://www.marquise.de/en/1800/index.shtml La Couturière Parisienne]
** [http://www.marquise.de/database/dbout.php?name=1894_16&pfad=1800 Dress with Leg o' Mutton sleeves]
** [http://www.marquise.de/database/dbout.php?name=1890_3&pfad=1800 1890s Dress]
** [http://www.marquise.de/database/dbout.php?name=1898_3&pfad=1800 Fitted Sleeves]
** [http://www.marquise.de/database/dbout.php?name=1899_1&pfad=1800 Trumpet-shaped skirts]
** [http://www.marquise.de/database/dbout.php?name=1895_11&pfad=1800 Bell-shaped skirt]
** [http://www.marquise.de/database/dbout.php?name=1895_21&pfad=1800 Tennis Dress]
** [http://www.marquise.de/database/dbout.php?name=1894_9&pfad=1800 Hourglass Corset]
* [http://www.corsetsandcrinolines.com Corsets and Crinolines]
** [http://www.corsetsandcrinolines.com/timelinepix/1900/warn4.jpgS Bend Corset]
* [http://www.victorianweb.org/art/costume/costumeov.html What Victorians Wore: An Overview of Victorian Costume]
* cite web |publisher= Victoria and Albert Museum
url= http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/fashion/features/round/19th_century_women/index.html
title= 19th Century Women's Fashion
work=Fashion, Jewellery & Accessories
accessdate= 2007-12-09

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 1890s — Millennium: 2nd millennium Centuries: 18th century – 19th century – 20th century Decades: 1860s 1870s 1880s – 1890s – 1900s 1910s 1920s …   Wikipedia

  • Fashion in the nineteenth century — See 1795–1820 in fashion 1820s in fashion 1830s in fashion 1840s in fashion 1850s in fashion 1860s in fashion 1870s in fashion 1880s in fashion 1890s in fashion Categories: History of fashionFashion stubs …   Wikipedia

  • fashion, children’s —    Fashion reflects changes in any given society, and can be usefully used as a socio economic barometer, especially as in times of hardship fashion and beauty are often the first to be affected. The study of the history of children’s fashions… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture

  • Fashion — For other uses, see Fashion (disambiguation). In Following the Fashion (1794), James Gillray caricatured a figure flattered by the short bodiced gowns then in fashion, contrasting it with an imitator whose figure is not flattered. Fashion, a… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Western fashion — Overview of fashion from The New Student s Reference Work, 1914 …   Wikipedia

  • 1900s in fashion — Fashion in the period throughout the years 1900 1909 in European and European influenced and American women with the countries continued the period, as do women s broad hats and full Gibson girl hairstyles. A new, columnar silhouette introduced… …   Wikipedia

  • 1930–1945 in fashion — Actress Mary Pickford with President Herbert Hoover, 1931 The most characteristic North American fashion trend from the 1930s to the end of World War II was attention at the shoulder, with butterfly sleeves and banjo sleeves, and exaggerated… …   Wikipedia

  • 1750–1795 in fashion — Portrait of John and Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader and their Daughter Anne by Charles Willson Peale, Philadelphia, 1772 Fashion in the period 1750–1795 in European and European influenced countries reached heights of fantasy and abundant… …   Wikipedia

  • 1930-1945 in fashion — [ right|thumb|250px|Actress Mary Pickford with President Herbert Hoover, 1931] Fa from the 1930s to the end of World War II. The most characteristic fashion trend of the period is attention at the shoulder, with butterfly sleeves and banjo… …   Wikipedia

  • Victorian fashion — The term Victorian fashion refers to fashion in clothing in the Victorian era, or the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 ndash;1901). It is strictly used only with regard to the United Kingdom and its colonies, but is often used loosely to refer to… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.