Clothing Styles of Our Ancestors



Everyone loves viewing vintage photos of our ancestors to not only see what they looked like but also their clothing styles.

Some examples of fashion styles follow:

Women wore a corset under their dress and around their wrist to pull in their wrist 1-2 inches. It was fashionable to have a silhouette figure of an hourglass.

Men and ladies all wore many layers of clothing. Yet their clothes in the 1700s and 1800s were made of natural fibers which allowed airflow to the body. In the winter season, the fabric was heavier to keep the body warmer. Also not generally known – temperatures during the 1800s were usually cooler for longer periods of time than was seen in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Not just ladies wore high heels but many wealthy fashionable men wore heels during the 1700s.

In any photos of ancestors from the 1890s, you might see the use of a tight bodice with the shirt gathered at the waist. Added were puffy leg-of-mutton sleeves (also known as gigot sleeves) growing bigger each year until reaching their largest size around 1895.

With the beginning of the 20th century -1900 to 1910s – fashion was all about hats – not just for ladies but for men also. It was known as Edwardian fashion with dramatically large hats, such as wide-brimmed, straw cartwheel or sailor hats, heavily-embellished picture hats, plus hats with feathers and wide, flat caps. For sure you have some vintage family photos with ancestors dressed in the Edwardian style.

Big changes to lady’s fashion came in the roaring twenties (1920s). Much less clothing was worn, simple straight lines and the hemline was shorter but the length was at the knee or a little lower. Stockings were worn with these modern dresses. They were rolled and secured just above the knee.

Even into the 1960s, two new fashion items became popular. There were the miniskirts including simple silhouette dresses to the knee and just above. By the late 1960s and into the 1970s it was the introduction of pantsuits, matching tops and pants worn. This was a big change for women working in shops and offices, where dresses were required. Allowing pantsuits to be worn was a big change.

Photo: Ladies in Edwardian Style.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Fashion Helps Date Photos

Strange Practices by Our Ancestors

After Labor Day Fashions

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