Women’s Fashion Through the Decades: 1900s

Brook Vitovsky, Art Director

A young woman sat admiring her newly sewn afternoon dress. It was a cotton and silk pastel red dress with beaded stones attached to a tan lace collar. The sleeves were puffy and the ends of the dress were frilly. She loved her dress even though she only wore it for lunch that afternoon. Soon the dress was retired to her elegant wardrobe and another was taken out.

Fashion has changed drastically through the decades as society has gotten more advanced. But have you ever thought of what women’s fashion looked like back in the early 20th century?

Back in the early 1900s, women would have about four dresses for the day. A morning dress, an afternoon dress, an evening gown, and if wanted, a simple dress with no corset to laze around in. The dresses seemed “restricted and graceful,” Mrs. Joyce Coulter, the Creative Writing teacher at UME, commented. And they were. According to research by Victoria and Albert Museum, one would wear an S-bend corset with an elegant, frilly dress that was normally decorated with lace and ribbons. Usually, false hair and pads intertwined with their hair to create a brim for their big, fashionable hats.

One UME junior, Sophia Luna, claims that she envisioned the dresses as a  “Little House on the Prairie” style. But that style was in the early 1870s while the early 1900’s style was called Edwardian. In modern times, movies capture the beauty of 1900s dresses. Vintage Dancer reported many movies that showcase Edwardian fashion, like Downton Abbey, Somewhere in Time, and My Fair Lady.

Even though in modern times fashion is not like it used to be, many people still admire the clothing. From the lace collars to the frilly ends, 1900s dresses stood out amongst all of the decades of fashion ever since corsets stopped being in style after 1910.