History 104: Western Civilization since 1648
Lecture: Origins of Modern Nationalism

Fin de Siecle: Fashion click here for audio

Recall that this is the style at the end of the 19th century and that, though it looks conservative to today's taste, it began modern fashions.
The long corset turned into an S-curve corset, said to be better for health because it took the pressure off the abdomen. Notice that the style is also slimming, and the waist, though tight, is moving below the natural waist. The Victorian habits of hair and hat are still there.
I show you this just as evidence of some underground nightlife; these clothes were worn in the gay 1890s by only the most sophisticated or most exotic. (You may recognize the style if you watch old Western movies; the siren in the saloon wears clothes like this.) Some Victorian standards were rejected by the elite upper class as well as the lower class who couldn't afford it.
By 1912, feminism had played a role in fashion. The hour-glass fertility symbol is gone, and in some cases the jacket was tailored like a man's. There is modesty, but a slimmer, more boyish line that will continue for some years. The man has become slightly more casual with his necktie, but in other ways is similar to before.

 

 

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