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A Chronological Look Through Fashion History: A Trip Through Fashion History as Art and Film

Toni Tyler

Contents of Curriculum Unit 01.04.11:

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I presently teach at James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut. It is an urban comprehensive high school with a student body of diverse abilities and backgrounds. We are working hard to create an environment that will allow our students to reach their goals and full potential both academically and socially. The students I teach vary through grades nine through twelve. Their ability and general knowledge of the subjects also varies. Some students deal with many problems and many lack a strong feeling of self-esteem and basic reading and math skills, yet the school is unique in its own way because there are many schools within this school. My school offers programs such as the Macy's Programs, School to Work, Art Magnet, and many more; however, there are some programs in the school that are given little and insufficient attention, including the family and consumer science program, better known as home economics. This program is offered as an elective and due to its mandating through the state, only fifteen students are allowed per class. The program, given the appropriate attention, will allow our students to excel.

The benefits of taking Family and Consumer Science classes are it builds self-esteem through the knowledge of applicable skills that can be used in later stages of life, for example, as a vocation or possible career, a better understanding of how clothes are influenced by styles of the past, gain an insight into fashion that will satisfy both immediate and long range goals, improving social skills and decision making skills, selecting appropriate clothing for different occasions, personal satisfaction, and increased understanding of history, literature, and art to build knowledge about artist and designers.

In today's society, images of fashion can be seen all over, but are strongly displayed in the media with television, music videos, commercials, and other means. We as people within society are human billboards for companies to display their name and logos. Trends have been set throughout history changing from decade to decade. Society has given the impression that in order to fit in or be cool, you should own and wear designer labels. Those who wear Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klien are more likely to fit in than those who chose to wear no name clothing. We also look to entertainers throughout the media and major fashion trends to determine our look. Being original with style is not as common and trends set back in the 1970's are returning to main stream fashion. Fashion is for everyone, but a sense of style is individual and personal. I believe that if we had a better understanding of fashion history, we would be less likely to follow trends and be trend setters.

If the Surgeon General had been around throughout history, there might have been labels on certain clothing that said "Surgeon General Warning: Wearing this clothing may be hazardous to your health." Buttons can be to blame for the development of some extreme fashions. The introduction of buttons in the thirteenth century made it possible to cut garments to fit the shape of the body. By the fourteenth century, men and women were tightly lacing and binding their bodies with stiff undergarments, called corsets, so that they could fit into the fashionable clothes of the times. The corset caused many dangers and deformities of the spine, respiratory, and digestive problems and complications with the pregnancy. Doctors suggested strongly in the 1800s that the corset be done away with. In 1920s, the ideal body shape was thin. People went to any length to achieve this goal.

The objectives and goal of this unit will be two fold. First, my major objective would be to teach my students about fashion history and have them to understand how closely related eighteenth and nineteenth century fashion is related to modern day, both in society's view on personal appearance and fashion similarities. Secondly, my other objective is to expose students to the history of fashion dating back as early as the thirteenth century. In teaching this unit, I will explore the evolution of clothing in a chronological sequence. I plan to cite the works of James VanDerZee and other artists to help achieve my learning goal and objectives..

The strategies that I plan to use in order to teach in this unit effectively will include class discussion of several time periods by students. Students will be allowed to draw or sketch one of the designs from the time period chosen and using construction techniques, students will design their own pattern to make a garment that will fit into their chosen time period. Finally, the garment that is made by the student will be incorporated into our modern day fashion show that is usually held at the end of the school year.

I will be focusing on the similarities and differences in the fashions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the modern day fashions. Some of the similarities that I will emphasize will include hair styles, dress, and accessories. During the eighteenth century, hair styles were very important to the images of both men and women. Wigs were the order of the day, plain and simple. However, wigs lost their popularity during the eighteenth century, but today they have returned in a myriad of styles. Not only are the wigs popular, hair weaving, extensions, and braids are among the fashion trends of today. Hair was very important to a woman's image. Even today, women are so concerned about their appearance that they would go to extremes to make themselves look beautiful, attractive, and noticeable.

The dress of the eighteenth century was designed with horizontal lines, wide necklines, and hoop skirts accessorized with bows, lace, and fresh flowers. Similarly, the nineteenth century men's fashion were especially designed with lace and ruffles. Basically, men's fashion took on the feminine appearance.

In the nineteenth century, accessories played a major part in a woman's attire. The trend was that a woman was not considered completely dressed unless she was accessorized with fresh flowers. Many women neglected their hygiene to keep alive the flowers that adorned their dresses.

Today, our women wear lapel pins or brooches which, to some extent, have replayed the fresh flowers. On the other hand, for special social events such as weddings, dancing, proms, cotillions and luncheons, and teas, to name a few, women wear corsages and men wear boutonnieres.

Another aspect of fashion history that I will focus on will be the influences of James VanDerZee, a famous African-American photographer of the Harlem Renaissance era. VanDerZee, a self-taught photographer, specialized on community leaders, family and children, weddings, and racial groups as the subjects for his photography. In his photos, one could see dignity, pride, well-dressed, and well-groomed individuals. These images showed a sense of well being and productivity in the community. Among those photographed were World War I heroes Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts, singers Mamie Smith, Hazel Scott, and Florence Mills, dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, poet Countee Cullen, heavyweight champions Jack Johnson, Harry Wills, and Joe Louis and Madame C.J. Walker, beauty salon proprietor, who became a millionaire selling salon products.

The students will explore the similarities and differences in the fashions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and modern day fashion through the use of visual aids and the media. Using visual aids, the students will view photographs of VanDerZee and identify the different features of the garments including necklines, hemlines, sleeve styles, and collars. The students will compare these features to today's fashion. The idea is to see how fashion has changed and how it is similar.

It is important for students to speak the language of fashion when they are identifying, comparing, and contrasting features of the fashion periods. Therefore, the students will be required to create a glossary of fashion terms, using reference materials.

To assess student mastery of the objectives, I will assign each student a fashion from one of the periods studied in class. He/She will write a three hundred word essay about one or more people whom they consider to be current fashion leaders.

Urban wear has recently over-powered fashion in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Companies such as FUBU, Phat Farm, and Mecca are now commonly being sold in department stores such as Filenes and JCPenny. Urban wear is not only worn and geared towards African-Americans, but Hispanic and Caucasian people also. Although wearing "baggy" clothing was thought to only be a fad, it is still commonly worn today and has shown that this particular style will stand the test of time. Caucasians in suburban America are faithful consumers of Urban fashion and footwear, such as Timberland boots. Urban fashion and means of talk is slowly weaving its way into suburban America and will leave its imprint on fashion history.

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Twelfth to Fifteenth Century

Two great movements during these centuries had dramatic effects on the costume fashion. First was the crusades, which allowed those involved to be exposed to costumes of many lands. The crusader's exposure to costumes of the Eastern cultures resulted in the addition of very lavish detailing to Western culture.

The second movement was the beginning of the Gothic Architecture. The Hennin, a hat that was worn during the fifteenth century, was very popular and took various shapes. One of the most popular shapes was cone-like, a reflection of the spires on the Gothic Cathedrals. These were extreme times and the hennin was an example. To compete for status, women would lengthen their hennins until it was necessary for a servant to hold the hennin from behind with a pitch fork-like apparatus.

Finally, a law was passed that stated the length of a woman's hennin would be determined by the husband's profession. Also during this time, footwear was an issue. Woman donned chopines (sho-peez) shoes with thick soles that enabled them to keep their clothing above the dirty streets. Women competed with each other by requesting their chopine soles be built higher and higher until the shoes were so high that women could not walk without the help of a servant. The bliaud was a two piece dress with a fitted bodice very full skirt, long, full sleeves, and a low waistline. This was the common costume of women in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This particular garment was often adorned with fine lace and smocking. Men of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries wore tunics with cyclas (sik-las) on top. The cyclas were a tunic-like garment with deep armholes and side seams.

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Fourteenth Century

In the fourteenth century, heraldry defined by Webster is the study of the coats of arms of old families was at its peak: Coats of Arms featured family histories were displayed on the men as well as on the livery of their horses. The most common costume of women at this time was the cotehardie (koht-ah-dee), a one piece dress with a well fitted bodice flared skirt and long, tight sleeves. A surcoat or sideless gown was worn over the cotehardie. The surcoat was identical of the men's cyclas. The church deemed the armholes as the "windows of hell," this shortening the life of this fashion.

In the fifteenth century, there emerged a great interest in costuming. Queens of various lands communicated about their costumes through courtdolls, known as fashion babies. These were dolls dressed exactly as the Queen, then sent to other Queens so they could see the costumes. In this century of extremes, women begin shaving their eyebrows and their hairline so no hair was visible up to the hennin (hat) Women would also apply leeches to the skin, which meant they would loose blood and look pale. The basic female garment was a robe. This was a short-waist bodice that flattened the bust, a deep square neckline, elaborate interchangeable sleeves, and a floor length gored skirt with a train. A long, full undergarment was worn under the robe. Following a new trend set by Queen Isabella of Castille, women wore slashes, creating a puffed effect. During this time, a tunic was discovered that was believed to belong to the Virgin Mary. The maternal look became fashionable and women of all ages wanted to look pregnant. Thus, a pregnancy pillow was stuffed with various materials and tied underneath the garments. Women also walked around with backs arched and stomachs protruding.

The men of this century were also eccentric. They wore a jerkin, a short skirted, sleeveless garment with deeply rounded armholes and dagged hem. Corsets were also worn underneath. Hosiery was an important part of a man's wardrobe. First, the hose were two separate pieces of fabric held up by garters attached to other garments. Later, a triangular piece known as the cod piece was used. Men began wearing very decorative and exaggerated cod pieces. They were stuffed with fabric and used as a purse to carry coins.

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Sixteenth Century

During the high Renaissance of the sixteenth century, fashion was splendid and bizarre. The exploration of the New World brought great wealth to Europe. This was mirrored in the beautiful fabrics, laces, precious stones, and furs of the time. Gold thread was often woven into fabric, making it extremely stiff and the garments less fluid. Jewels were often attached to the garments and lace added as a finishing touch. These were no fashion leaders in this century; all of the countries took turns establishing new fashion looks.

The Farthingale was invented by the wife of Henry V in an attempt to hide her pregnancy from then an impotent husband. The farthingale, a metal cone-shaped article worn under the skirt, although invented in 1470, was most popular during the sixteenth century. A wheel-like version of the farthingale was developed by princess Marguerite of Valoish camouflaged her wide hips. This style of farthingale became popular in the French and British courts. Lack of comfort was the price paid for beauty during this century. To achieve a breastless look, women wore iron cages called vasquines (vas-keenz). The vasquines acted as corsets and were held together by bolts. Below the vasquine, the women wore a long pointed apparatus called a stomacher, which flattened her stomach.

Perfumes, scented oils, and pomanders were popular because of a lack of running water. Simple lace-trimmed collars gave way to the ruff, a circular face-framing collar. The starched creations became so large that people had to use special elongated eating utensils to get food into their mouths.

The ruff also hindered movement of head, so only the higher classes could wear it, thus giving rise to the term "white collar worker." Two great Queens of the century of this century influenced fashion. They were Elizabeth I of England and Catherine de Medice of France. Both popularized the bell silhouette by wearing farthingales. Medice boasted a sixteen inch waistline added padding to her hips and sleeves to emphasized her wasp waist. She also inspired the medici collar, a lace ruff that showed much cleavage. Elizabeth I owned over 3000 dresses at the time of her death. She popularized the cartwheel farthingales in England, all tall-crowned bonnets with small brims. She also popularized wigs due to a loss of her hair. Accessories such as masks, fans, rings, and handkerchiefs were important.

During the sixteenth century, menswear began to take on the appearance of the garments that men wear today. The pourpoint (poor-point: a forewarner of today's shirt) was the major men's garment. It featured a high standing collar, set-in sleeve, centerfront closure, and a short full peploin. Men usually wore a doublet over the pourpoint. Slashing was common on all men's garments. Men hosiery began to change in the middle of the century when the upper and lower hose became separated and more clearly defined. The lower hose were now knitted and close fitting while the upper hose were padded and slashed. Pumpkin breeches were well padded upper hose and were so named because they resembled pumpkins. Cenetians, another style of upper hose were introduced in Venice. They were loosely fitted knee length breeches resembling the knickers that are worn today.

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Seventeenth Century

In the 1665 and 1666 England was inundated with both plagues and fires which took their minds off fashion. This allowed the French to gain prestige. France became the world's fashion leader under the rules of the "Sun King," Louis XIV. France became the center of textile production and fashion innovation. Those attending parties at Louis grand palace at Versailles determined the fashion trends by what they wore. Men's fashion changed very little at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Pumpkin breeches and venetian were still being worn. However, the ruff was replaced by a flat laced edged collar known as a whisk. Lace became an important addition to men's fashion. In general, men developed a feminine appearance, which was complemented by the long and wavy hairstyles that men popularized. As the century progressed, trouser were less stuffed and were more fitted, with lace at the knees. Shirts, which were cut fuller, became more visible. These shirts featured full long sleeves and were often trimmed with bows. Accessories for men included swords, spurs, capes, and gatore. The middle of the century saw the development of rhinegroves, better known as petticoats, breeches designed by Louis XIV's tailors. These breeches were very full, often resembling skirts. The breeches were feminine and elaborate sporting hundreds of yards of ribbon on a single pair. Louis XIV lost his hair from a severe illness and wigs became popular for men. Powdering wigs with talc became popular at the end of the century.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, there was very little change in women's fashion. In 1620, women became disenchanted with the hoops and rolls. For the first time in a hundred years, fabric fell naturally from the waist to the hem. Women began to display color in their garments by slashing the front of their outer skirts and attaching it at the hips, revealing the underskirt. This fashion was named for Madame Fonlange, a mistress of Louis XIII, and was called the fonlange silhouette.

The ruff remained popular, the necklines became lower, hairstyles became massive, and hats were cocked to the side of the head to accommodate the hairstyles. A hat called the widow's peak was developed for mourning. The hat featured a deep point on the forehead and a long veil on the back of the cap. The term "widow's peak" is still used today to denote a natural hairline that comes to a point on the forehead. Beauty marks were applied to areas of the face to signify various personality traits. Other accessories used during the century included muffs, scarves, fans, masks, gloves, and eye patches.

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Eighteenth Century

The grand designs of the seventeenth century were abandoned in the eighteenth for lighter and more delicate colors and patterns. Interest in the men's fashion faded slowly because of the age of Louis XIV. However, new life was breathed into fashion after the death of Louis XIV. The cravat was replaced by the stock, a neckband that tied in front and had a frilly extension under the collar known as a jobot (zha-boh). A suit coat known as a redingote (red-inp-goht) was very popular. The fore runner of today's suit coat, it featured a fitted waist and flared skirt. As the century progressed, the coat became tight-length with a higher neckline with less fabric and lace at the neckline, cuffs, and skirt. Fur or braid were used as decorative touches. Shirts with narrow collars were often worn under the redingote. Wigs were no longer popular. Men brushed their hair back from the head and tied it at the nape or curled a few locks above the ears.

The French Revolution brought on outlandish fashions, reflecting the unrest of the times. The popular redingote became so tight that the buttons could no longer be fastened. Long tails were added to the back, a high turnover collar and wide lapel were popular, and button was added in a double-breasted style. Trousers were completely visible and ankle length.

The young man were known as Incroyables (an-Krwah-YAHBL), which means "incredible" and the young women as Merveilleuses (mehr-vay-YURZ) for "marvelous." Protesting the lifestyles of Louis XIV court the Incroyables wore exaggerated garments in the mockery of the king's court. Their garments were wrinkled to give them a slept-in look. Cravats were tied carelessly, over large lapped trousers too long and loose created a style known as culottes, the French word for pants. A short, tailless jacket known as the spencer jacket and popularized by Lord Spencer of England. Many stories surrounded these creations. One story states that Lord Spencer was thrown from a house ripping off the tails. Another story attributed to the design to the fact that Lord Spencer stood to close to a fire and the tails were burned off.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, women of the French court dominated fashion. Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour, was a lover of the arts. She was faithful to the French way of dress, but added her own influence. She began the fashion of wearing bows on the stomacher at the elbow and of having frilled neckbands. She edged her neckline with a lace known as tatez-y (tah-tay-zee), which is French for "touch here." She combed her hair straight back from the brow, with a lift, thus, the pompadour hairstyle began. As the century continued, the bell silhouette became more horizontal; skirts were hooped again and necklines became wider. The hoops were no longer circular, but flat in the front and back.

The pannier (pahn-yair) was an undergarment that supported the skirts on the sides. It was tied to a woman's waist, creating the desired wide effect without the need for hoops. The eighteenth century was a time of femininity. Women's hairstyles were soft with curls falling to their shoulders. Live flowers were used as accessories. Garlands were placed at the hem lines, necklines, and around the hair. Women would sew small pockets inside their garments so that water could be carried to keep the flowers fresh. French painter Jean Antione Watteau (wah-tott) influenced the gowns of the French court through his paintings. He depicted women in the gowns with the full flowering trains falling from the blank shoulder lines, creating back interest in the garment's silhouette. This innovation became known as the Watteau neckline.

Under the influence of Marie Antionette, ladies hair again became high and powdered. Powder was applied with shakers and bellows. A flour paste was added to give whiteness to the powder. The peasants complained that the use of so much flour on the hair lessened their food supply. The extravagant hairstyles took many shapes including carriage, ships, garden scenes, people, or current events. Hygiene suffered for the sake of beauty. Head lice was common because the hairstyles would stay in place for weeks, but if the lice became too active, they would have to have the servants to slit the hair open and remove as many lice as possible and mend the slit.

At the end of the century, Pannier became smaller and finally disappeared, but was quickly replaced by a bustle, a padded or wire device that was worn over the wearer's posterior. Women also adopted the redingote and also spencer coat, which was originally made for men.

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Nineteenth Century

The nineteenth century began with the continuation of the French Revolution. The revolution caused a reorganization of society and a rise to the middle class, allowing all classes to dress similarly. During the revolution, France lost its position as head of the textile production allowing England to take over. However, on Napoleon's coronation as emperor, France regained its lead. Napoleon did not strive to make France the leading textile producer because of his love of fashion, but because of his love of fashion, the economy of France benefited.

Many changes took place in the fashion world during the nineteenth century. In 1840, Godey's/Lady's Book, the first fashion magazine, was published, simplifying the task of communicating fashion. In 1846, the sewing machine was invented forever changing the fashion industry. In 1800, the first ready-to-wear shops appeared in the United States. By the end of the century, most custom tailoring businesses had gone out of business.

The English displayed their fine cutting and tailoring techniques, beautiful fabrics, and sense of grooming during this century. The nineteenth century was called the age of dandies, or well dressed men, and their leader was George "Beau" Brummel. Although Brummel did not set fashion trends, he adapted them to his style. He led men's fashion form 1796 to 1816, introducing show polish, clean linen daily, and the starching of cravats. Men no longer wore knee breeches, pants which reached the ankles. Before 1815, men's pants were so tight, they were made of knit fabric to allow movement. Later, a fly or front closure was added. Shirts were no longer edged with lace, they were ruffled down the front and featured a high collar. A waistcoat, a forerunner to the vest, was worn over the shirt. Over the waistcoat, men wore double-breasted coats with tails. They wore their hair shorter and curled and sported sideburns that often extended to their chins. Men's accessories included gloves, watch fobs, and top hats.

As the century continued, the dandy flourished again. Men took on a feminine look. This look included a protruding chest, pinched waist (achieved with a corset), and rounded hips. Trousers followed the feminine trend with tight waistbands and delicate pleating at the waistline to give the hips a longer look. The tailcoat was worn in the evening. In daytime, it was replaced by the frock coat. The waistcoat was still very popular. The neckline became lowered and a shawl collar was added. The cravat was now tied in a flat bow around removable collars, that were invented by a blacksmith's wife who was tired of providing her husband with a clean shirt daily.

In mid century, an important fashion trend began with the matching of a man's coat, waistcoat, and trousers. These outfits were known as the ditto suits. By 1870, print shirts were introduced into men's wardrobes; polka dots and stripes became quite popular. The collar of the shirts turned over for comfort. This collar was known as the wing or gates ajar. Popular accessories of the time included fedoras, top hats, bowler, cloth and rubber shoes, neckties with collegiate stripes, gloves, and a walking stick. Sports became important in men's leisure time and specific garments were created to support the sports such as tennis, swimming, hunting, and mountain climbing. Edward VII introduced the wearing of creased pants; this detail is still popular today.

The Greek influence still dominated women's garments of the early nineteenth century. The waistline continued to be raised and controlled by a drawstring. The simplicity of the Greek style costumes gave attention to headdresses. Many forms were worn including encircled vines, berets, turbans, and straw hats in various designs and styles. The Greek influenced disappeared by 1820. Luxurious fabrics in bright colors became popular. Fullness was added to the garments with leg-of mutton sleeves and pleated or gathered skirts. The hats, known as a picture hat, became the fashion. The necklines continued in their horizontal lines until shoulders were bare. Sleeves and skirts continued to become fuller and waistlines were lowered, emphasizing the bell silhouette. Sleeves were supported by boning and the skirts were supported by crinoline.

With romance flourishing mid-century, women fainted easily, mainly due to hunger. It was considered distasteful for women to eat in public. So many went without food. The weight of garments along with the tight lacing of garments at the waist contributed to the fainting. By 1844, sleeves became straight and narrow necklines took on the shape of a V and hats became smaller. In the 1850s, Empress Eugenie, Napoleon II's wife, set many fashion trends with the help of her famous designer Charles Worth. Eugenie popularized the bolero jacket, the felt hat, wand Scottish tartans.

Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, editor of a feminist newspaper, stared the trend of bloomers, which were loose trouser gathers at the ankle. This style was popular with some, but opposed by some because it presented a masculine look. In 1869, the bustle reappeared, changing the female shape. The over skirt was slashed, pulled up, and attached at the bustle to expose the under skirt. The bustle became small during the last decade of the 1800s. The female figure began to resemble an hourglass through widening of the sleeves and tightening the corset at the waist. To maintain a small waist, many women had their lower ribs surgically removed. Artist Charles Dana Gibson immortalized the young fashion-conscious woman of this decade in his painting. She was known as the Gibson Girl.

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Twentieth Century

The twentieth century brought constant change. Important influences on fashion included movies, television, World War II, youth, and the women's movement.

At the beginning of the century, women's garments became more tailored. The bustline continued to protrude at the waistline was still controlled by the corset. These facts as well as the forward stance introduced in the nineteenth century prompted the style known as the "S"-shape because the body resembled the letter "S". The invention of the automobile called for the right costume and the dustcoat was introduced. This coat was used to protect the women's garments form the dirt and dust of the road. Women also wore boots, goggles, and large hats with veils to cover their face.

The 1910s influence of early movie stars

As the 1910s approached, the hourglass figure was still in style, but the "S" shape had disappeared. The French designer Paul Poiret introduced the hobble skirt, named because it was so tight the wearer could not walk and had to hobble. After World War I, the hobble skirt disappeared. The 1920s produced the age of Jazz, the Charleston, and the flapper with her waist dropped tubular dress, long pearl neckline, and bobbed hair. Undergarments included camisoles, panties, teddies, and brassieres that flattened the figure for a more masculine look. Cosmetic and make were also being used.

When the depression hit in 1929, hemlines became longer. The unsure economic time spawned the harder-chief hemline. During this time, women could not afford to buy garments, so the relied heavily on home sewing.


The 1920s clingy, draped, long fashion saw the waistline rise and women sought a long thin look. Wide slacks, known as trousers, short above the knee were worn for sports. Bathing suits and evening wear were backless. Evening gowns were long fitting and cut on the bias, a style that actress Jean Harlow popularized. "Streamline" was the term for the decade and clingy dropped, long fashion was the style.


The 1940s were influenced by World War II. The occupation of France forced some of the great fashion houses to close temporarily. Women reflected a uniform look with padded shoulders, shorts skirts, and nipped-in waistlines. In 1942, the United States government passed law L-85. The last set the following standards for garment manufacturing: no patch pocket, two in hems, no cuffs on pants, three and one half yards of fabric per garment, no metal closings because they were needed for the war. After the war ended in 1947, designer houses were reopened and Dior introduced a style called the "New Look." The "New Look" had a natural shoulder, small waistline, and a longer, fuller skirt. Women happily accepted the "New Look" when the L-85 law was ended. This was this only time in history the hemline was literally changed overnight.


The 1950s brought about the sloppy bobby socks, sneakers, and the poodle skirt, a fun time for women's fashion. Many actresses set fashion trends. Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield brought attention to the full bustline with the help of the Merry widow, an undergarment that pulled in the waist and pushed up the bust. Audrey Hepburn made the undernourished look fashionable by pulling her hair back into a ponytail and wearing black leotards and ballet slippers.

____Dior introduced the A-line silhouette, known as the trapeze dress and the H-line dress, which was low-waisted. Ladies skirts were full and were supported by crinolines and hoops. Slacks, such as clamdiggers and pedal pushers, were used for sports wear.

Fashion for the youth in the mid 50s was influenced greatly by Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Martin Brando. Their influences was seen in the leather jackets, pompadour hairstyles, dungarees, and the popular white tee shirts. Young women's clothing was usually a two piece garment, a skirt and a sweater combination, and another popular outfit was a man's white shirt worn over a pair of cuffed jeans. Young children's clothes were inspired by television and movie stars such as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, as well as Davy Crockett's coonskin cap. Teenagers also watched American Bandstand to see what their favorite dancers were wearing.

In menswear, the 50s were known as the "Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" era. This term derived form a book by Sloan Wilson. The younger men wore the Ivy league Oxford shirt, Oxford shoes, and narrow ties. The businessmen attire (uniform) was a gray slack cut suit with narrow lapels, striped tie, wing-tip shoes, and gray fedora hat


The 1960 was known as the pop or nod decade: coordinated costumed, miniskirts, and pantsuits for women. The strongest fashion innovator of the 60s was the first Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Hey clean cut simple style was accepted and copied by women of all economic levels. The Jackie look consist of a two piece suit, or a chanel-style suit often (double-breasted) with a round neckline. Jackie also popularized the bouffant hairdo, the pillbox hat and large buttons. For the young women of the 60s an English designer named Mary Quant was the trend setter. Mary created the very popular miniskirt in 1962. The eye was on the legs and not the bosom. The popular mini skirt helped to do away with the garter belt, but pantyhose were developed to wear with the mini. The Beatles came to the United States in 1964 and the British influence invaded fashion as well as music. The art world was flooded with bright, bold prints, and optics including dots and stripes.

This modern art influenced the mod fashion look, was also known as the Carnaby Street look. This look was expressed by two famous British models Sean "the Shrimp" Shrimpton and Lesley "Twiggy" Hornesby. The fashionable go-go boots were introduced by Andre Couvreges, also a shocking touch to fashion was added by Rudi Gernreich's transparent blouses and topless bathing suits. In 1966, a French designer Yves Saint Laurent introduced the women's tailored pantsuit. The pantsuit was not accepted for all occasion therefore women were not allowed to wear them in some of the restaurants. In 1969, women were dealing with many hemlines. They were offered, the mini, the midi, and the maxi as a choice. Many women stuck with pantsuits and favor the mini skirts. The 1960s also saw the hippie look for both men and women. This look included jeans decorated with patches, paint, silver, studs, and embroidery, and a chambray work shirt that was decorated a well. Bras disappeared for a short time. New trend setter along with love beads were Rock stars including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane. The trend in casual anti-established look. Men wore long hair with bright color clothing and the suit and tie went bye bye.


The 1970s introduced us to men's leisure, bold neckties, double-knit jacket, and pants flared at bottoms. Polyester went to the extreme in the leisure suit, a two piece suit for men. The suit consisted of slacks and a jacket a large collar and top stitching. A bright flared shirts was worn beneath the jacket. Some people did not care for the leisure suit at all. The tee shirt became popular for both men and women. White was abandoned in flavor of bright color with slogans printed on the front.

Women of the early 70s wore hot pants, a collaboration of mini skirts and the pantsuit. Jeans were still popular, but the new hip hugger style with the waistband on the hip bone was becoming more popular. The 70s accessories included the chunky platform shoes. The hot pants were the last breath of outlandish look of the 1960s. The romantic Edwardian look became fashionable in new long lengths. Millions of Gunne Sax dresses were sold as prom dresses as well as wedding dresses. A California designer by the name of Jessica McClintock introduced this look. Jeans were still popular, but another drastic change such as bleached spots embroidery and tie dyed jeans were also cut up in many styles.

In 1973, designer Diane Von Furstenbery popularized the Versatile jersey wrap dress. John T. Malloy set the standards of correct office attire for both sexes in his dress for success book. The professional look included classic suits for both male and females. The suits were often produced in the natural fibers and neutral colors. Women joining the work force made classic styles suits popular. The economic recession encouraged classic styles and women would be less likely to spend money would be less likely to spend money on fade fashion. The popularity of movies created popular looks. Saturday Night Fever spawned the disco look for both sexes. Annie Hall popularized the baggy look for women. Star Wars encouraged the wearing of capes and flat boots. Grease brought back the 50s look.

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Lesson Plan One

Objective: Students will read the history of fashion. Students will discuss the history of fashion with instructor. Students will select two fashion illustrations and in their description, they will describe each fashion illustration to the class.


Local paper Field trip to local galleries Local designers

History book Internet

Activity: Students will plan a simulated debate between designer of the eighteenth century and twenty-first century. Students must answer the following questions in their debate:

(1) What is the important center of women fashions?

(2) What is the responsibilities of fashion designers, and describe the importance.

(3) How are fashions of the past relative to urban culture dress of today?

(4) Why was this fashion created to modify this particular era?

Evaluation: Students will present the debate to the class

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Lesson Plan Two:

Objective: Students will plan and create a fashion collage. Students will choose pictures that will reflect historical and international costumes, garment industry workers, famous designers, figures who influenced fashion, and family photos showing changing hemlines, styles of sleeves, and collars.


Patterns Magazines Glue Construction Paper

Scissors Tape Marker

Evaluation:Students will be evaluated for their knowledge and understanding of the information that they gain by making this collage.

Students will present an overview of their completed collage to the class.

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Lesson Plan Three:

Objectives: Students will identify new fashion terms.

Students will use reference materials from the fashion history to create and illustrate a glossary of fashion terms. Teacher will show pictures or photos that reflect the term described. Student will explain the various reasons why these terms were used in fashion history.

Activity: Student will setup a game show entitled "Fashion Password." Divide the class into two teams. Prepare a list of fashion terms. Team members will give clues to describe the terms to the other team members, who will try to guess the term.

Terms may be used from glossary of fashion terms in the unit.

Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on their research, organizational, and writing skills.

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bliaud- A two piece dress with fitted bodice and full sleeves.

bloomers- Loose trousers gathered at the ankle.

bustle- A padded or wired device that was worn over the wearer's posterior.

chemise- A long, full undergarment.

chopines- Shoes with thick soles.

codpiece- A flap or bag concealing an opening in front of a man's britches.

cotehardie- A one piece dress with a well-fitted bodice.

cravat- A band or scarf worn around the neck.

crinolines- A bell-shaped, stiff undergarment of wool horse hair.

culottes- A divided skirt.

dagging- A decorative edging on costumes.

ditto suits- A man's suit that matched a man's coat, waist coat, and trousers.

farthingale- A metal cone-shaped article worn under the skirt.

Godey's Lady's Book- The first fashion magazine published in 1840.

hennin- A nat with a cone-like shape.

indispensables- A woman's purse.

jerkin- A short skirted, sleeveless garment with round armholes and a dagged hem.

pannier- An undergarment that supports the skirt on the side.

pompadour- A hair style which was combed back from the brow with a lift.

widow's peak- A small cap that fit over the head. it was developed for mourning. It has a deep point on the forehead and a long veil attached.

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Student Bibliography

Baumgarten, Linda & Watson, John. Costume Close Up: Clothing, Construction and Patterns. January 2000 -The making of patterns.

Baumgarten, Linda. Eighteenth Century Clothing at Williambury. February 1991. -An overview of eighteenth century clothing.

Blum, Stells. Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazaar 1867-1898. Dove Publications: New York, 1974. -An indepth study of fashion that was designed for Queen Victoria and Empress Eugenie.

Burnsten, Sharon A. Fitting and Proper: 18th Century Clothing from the Collection of the Cester County. March 2000 -A detailed story describing the effect of different undergarments on one's health.

Craig, Hazel T. Clothing, a Comprehensive Study. J B Lippincott Company: New York, 1973. -The origin and evolution of clothing.

Geringer, Susan. Clothing Fashion, Fabrics, and Construction. Glencoe-McGraw Hill: New York, 1997. -Gives current events and celebrities influence of fashion.

Geringer, Susan. The History of Fashion. Glencoe-McGraw Hill: New York, 1997. -A comprehensive look at fashion since prehistoric time.

Harris, Kristina. Victorian Edwardian Fashion for Women 1840-1919. Schiffer Publishing, 1995. -An overview of victorian fashion of woman.

Johnston, Susan. Godey's Lady's Book: 1840-1854. Dover Publications, Inc.: New York, 1977

-The first fashion magazine that was published.

Kalman, Bobbie D. & Pebias, Antoinette(illustrator). 18th Century Clothing. Crabtree Publishing, 1995. -A picture book of gowns worn during the Victorian era.

Racine, Albert. The Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes. Facts on File: New York, 1988. -Displays pictures of costumes.

Parnell, Frances B. Skills For Living. Good Heart-Willcox Co:Illinois, 1997. -The impact of advertising on buying clothing.

Tierney, Tom. American Family of the Civil War Era. Dover Publications,Inc.: New York, 1985 -Describes "The age of the Crinoline" in women's fashion.

Tierney, Tom. Great Fashion Designs of the Forties. Dover Publications, Inc. New York,1987. -The rise of American designer after the end of World War II.

Tucker, Andrew & Tamsin, Kingwell. Fashion: A Crash Course. Watson-Guptill: New York, 2000. -A short cut on how to design outer garments.

Vanderhoff, Margil. Clothes: Part of Your World. Ginn and Company: Mass., 1973 -A guide designed to serve as a study for clothing.

Wolfe, Mary. Fashion. GoodHeart-Willcox: Illinois, 1993 -The book give a in-depth look at how the apparel industries work.

Willis-Braithwaute, Deborah. Black Photographer: 1849-1988. Harry Abrams: New York,1998 -VanDerZee's photography wrought transformation on the image of blackness in America.

Five Centuries of American Costume. Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1963. -The history of fashion over five centuries time line.

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Teacher's Bibliography

Baer, Neil R. Some Directions to Art. Ames, 1964 -The use of dyes and colors to beautify clothing.

Bane, Allyne. Creative Clothing Construction. McGraw Hill: New York, 1966. -A detail look at skill used to put together a garment that provide self expression.

Clothing Concepts. A New Approach, Fashions and Fabrics. JCPenny Co.: New York, 1965. -A look at color, lines, and texture before buying or making clothing.

Contini, Mila. Fashion. The Odyssey Press: New York, 1965 -A look at fashions about buying clothing.

Erwin, Mabel & Kinchen, Lila A. Clothing for Moderns. MacMillian Company: New York, 1964. -Making decisions about buying clothing.

Payne, Blanche. History of Costume. Harper and Row: New York, 1965 -The factors that influence what styles are worn by people.

Roach, Mary Ellen & Bubolz, Joanne. Dress, Adornment and the Social Order. John Wiley and Sons: New York, 1965. -A visual history of dress during the sixteenth century.

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Video Suggestions

- "Annie Hall"-Popularized the baggy look

- "Amadeus"- Introduced brocades and ruffled jabot to fashion.

-"Saturday Night Fever:- Disco Look

- "Flashdance"- Inspired the ripped sweatshirt look.

- "Grease"- The fifties look including the argyle sweaters and saddle shirts.

- "Star Wars"- Wearing of copes and flat boots.

- "Urban Cowboy"- popularized the western and prairie look.

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Rock Videos

- Madonna : "Like a Virgin"( lace, fitted, bustier, and jewelry)

-Prince : "Purple Rain" ( hair style and purple clothing)

- Cyndi Lauper- (Old clothes, rags, and multiple accessories)

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Contents of 2001 Volume IV | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

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