A great number of the fashions of the Modern Era are actually trends that were started in the 18th Century but would not become dominant until the Modern Era and included things like Orientalism, Scottish Highlands romanticising, Gothic revival, Pre-Raphaelites, Artistic Dress as well as Aestheticism.
It was to be the 1851 Great Exhibition though that would bring forth the concept of fashion in a manner which was never observed before. Thanks to the advent of technology throughout the Industrial Revolution and the ability to mass-produce items which previously would have been too expensive for the commoner, clothing as well as home décor began to make drastic changes.
While back in the middle of the Modern Era clothing was still made by seamstresses in dress shops, their cloth was far cheaper thanks to the increase in rural mills and their ability to mass produce cloth. Shortly after the Great Exhibition though, you could purchase the clothes you wanted and then simply take them to the seamstress to have them tailor fitted. While by this time the use of custom sewing services and home sewn clothing were still common place, they were on the decline as the world made way for the first clothing shops.
As the all new technology made its way onto the central stage the introduction of machines that could lock-stitch the seams made the home sewing of clothing as well as the work in virtually any dress shop an easier one as well as more affordable. Furthermore, previously the use of lace was left only for those who had the money to have lace handmade, but new lace machines were able to make the product cheaper and quicker at virtually the same quality.
As the colonies all over the globe began sending back all types of new clothing materials such as rubber, the cost of making and purchasing boots and shoes became cheaper. Also, with the advent of the increasingly educated people of the Modern Era, chemists were able to develop dyes that were not only bright, but were also cheap in comparison to the previously used animal and vegetable dyes which had been used up until the Modern Era.
As the times went on, the changes in the women’s fashion also changed. What started off the Era as the straight Regency Silhouette outfits began to shift into more exaggerated sleeves and skirts. From here the shoulders of the women’s blouses became smaller while at the same time the skirts became larger thanks to the readily available hoops and crinolines. By the end of the Modern Era these styles then moved on to a more narrow style which became known as the bustle skirt which was followed by the hobble skirt styles.
One of the biggest fashion designers of the time started off as a draper in London and after moving to Paris became one of the leading clothiers for not only Great Britain but also the United States throughout the 1840’s. As these new French styled fashions made their way to the markets in London, the reactions of the women of the time were towards the reform of not only one’s beauty but also one’s health. This led the women of the time from being just a housewife to one who would be more than happy to go out and hang out with other women in town during the afternoons and showing off their clothes and health concepts; a practice that is still common place today.
While men’s fashions also made some changes, they were not as great as that of the women’s fashions. As the Modern Era started off, the most common dress for men was that of the frock coats and the wasp waists and by the 1830’s though this had changed to that of the Norfolk Jackets and the sober sack suits.
It would not be until the 1840’s that the concept of casual wear would start to become common place. It has to be remembered that up until this point there was no real difference between the cloths that a man would wear to work and what he would wear around the house and on the weekends. An increase in the use of not only neck-ties but also scarves also made their first appearances during the Modern Era.
Until the 20th Century though, the shirts were still generally that of black neutral or grey in colour with a special occasion tailored jacket. While today the concept of special occasion means an entire suit, for many during the Modern Era an entire suit was still too expensive and as a substitute they would wear their best pair of pants along with a custom tailored jacket.
Original Authors: Nick (Globel Team)
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 21/07/2008