From the heavily corseted silhouette and petticoats desired in the 1900s, to restricted access to fabric during WWII, to the introduction of manufactured fabrics such as polyester in the 1970s and everything in between, fashion through the decades has seen many trends come and go.
The Lois Jett Historic Costume Collection exhibit will feature the evolution clothing has made throughout the decades from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, April 11.
“Clothing today is chosen largely for comfort and to fit one’s personality,” Jennifer Banning, assistant professor in Family and Consumer Sciences, said. “Clothing in the first 20th century was often not comfortable at all.”
Banning explained that fashion today allows for a multitude of styles to choose from, whereas in past decades there seemed to be one particular trend everyone seemed to follow.
Fashion reflects what is going on in the world. When world events change, so do fashions, Banning said.
In the past 150 years, women’s fashion has changed drastically more than men’s. When the fashion industry began to gain traction in the late 19th century women were the targeted customers, according to Banning.
“Men’s fashion changes in small ways … [leaving] basic garments and styling the same [such as] shirts, trousers and jackets,” Banning said. “Women have a wider variety of garments to wear and are open to wearing them in different ways.”
Banning said her favorite decades for fashion were the 1910s and 1950s.
“[In the] 1910s there was a high waistline trend that is very elegant. They also had a tendency to use a variety of fabrics and trims on one garment [making this era] creative and attractive,” she said. “The 1950s era valued the garments fit and [having a] quality construction. The clothing was made to be worn for longer periods of time and made clothing an investment. This era also had unique details.”
Banning predicts that in the future, fashion will have a higher emphasis on sustainable practices in the apparel and textile industry, and the way the clothes are designed, produced and marketed; These changes will reduce the harmful effects the industry has on the environment.
Another major change Banning sees in fashion today is the use of sportswear.
“[In the 1920s] sportswear was something only worn when actively participating in sports, [today] it is the main form of dress worn by entire generations regardless of activity,” she said.
Swimwear has also changed drastically. In the beginning of the 20th century swimwear was high-coverage. By the 1940s, form-fitting one- and two-pieces were introduced. Today, the less-is-more look is common in swimwear, she said.
“Fashion changes in all cultures, but changes have probably been more dramatic in western cultures thanks to fashion centers such as Paris, Milan, London and New York City,” Banning said. “Entire industries grew up around those cities which impacted the growth and transmission of fashion.”