As part of my newest conception for a blog series, I decided to cover the 20th century in fashion. While I love the diversity of today’s fashion landscape and its nod to globalism, fashion in the past decades truly represented the alignment of societal movements with standards of dress. In this series, I’ll cover a bit of history, a bit of fashion trivia, and a lot of tips and links for dressing for now with a real sense of then.
So without further ado, let’s kick things off with the dawn of the 20th century—1900-1910. Commonly referred to as “La Belle Epoque” (or Beautiful Age), this was an era full of idealism and luxury—for those who could afford it. With Paris the epicenter of culture, and the invention of flight and motorcars sweeping this side of the Atlantic, wealthy Americans were on the go, and borrowing their style cues from decadent, ostentatious European times past—corsets, bustles, dramatic sleeves, pompadours and elaborate sweeping hems were de rigeur, despite their anachronism and foreign vocabulary! Practically speaking, this era saw the birth of the long, skirted traveling suit (for avoiding dust when traveling via auto); the shirtwaist blouse; a nice variation in necklines (from high and lacy to low and sweetheart); and Charles Dana Gibson’s “Gibson Girl”—the epitomization of the new, emancipated (and beautiful) woman of the early 20th century.
Although many of the styles of this decade would look costumey if replicated accurately, the longer, sweeping hems, narrow shoes and booties, fitted blazers and ladylike blouses could be worked in—piece by piece—to the modern wardrobe as they are STILL fabulously fashionable. And if anyone is to pull off a voluminous pompadour or bun and make it look unquestionably ‘of the moment’, it’s a statuesque lass! When going for a 1900-1910-inspired look, think voluminous, think luxurious, think ladylike, and think no-holds-barred!