The way we dress says a lot about us as individuals. But what does it say about the entire generation of the time? With our fickle minds changing quicker and quicker the fashion industry now has evolved into something that resonates more with comfort than with looking pretty. Nowadays the fashion industry is heavily influenced by happenings around the world. It can be anything from a rare fruit to a serious movement, the industry seems to scrounge out every last piece of inspiration from the source. This is a recent change because till the mid-1900’s it was the rich and famous who dictated the fashion rules.
It all started with the “Plume Boom” which was the craze that took over western women. This craze made them wear real feathers in their hats. This change was brought about by the Smithson Family, an aristocratic family in New York, who felt it below their dignity to wear artificial or Crushed feathers in their hats. This craze ensued hundreds of women into wearing real feathers in their hats. The rarer the feather was, the more popular was the wearer. This was because the rarity of the feather was associated with a high cost and the more one was willing to pay for a feather or two showed their financial status amongst the richest. Around this time men were wearing suits and blazers as their formal attire. For leisure, the men turned to breezy Night Suits which consisted of a loose cotton shirt and baggy cotton shirts.
No mention about the history of Fashion is ever complete without bringing up Corsets. The Edwardian Corset was designed to give the wearer a cinched waist which allowed them to achieve that ideal figure. The ideal figure of the time was that of an hourglass. So many ladies, even ladies from the middle class often wore these constricting and uncomfortable devices to achieve the hourglass figure. Corsets have had their share of negativity associated with them because in the past corsets have been used to show women as fragile and docile. It was meant to make women submissive to their husbands by restricting all sort of movement. But now in their new rebooted versions, corsets are seen as a statement piece and are far from uncomfortable. Nowadays corsets are used more as an accessory than as a piece of clothing. Men’s fashion more or less remained the same, with the occasional change in the preference of colour and fitting.
The main change in women’s fashion came after the suffrage movement when women started wearing Flapper dresses and Flapper headbands. Created out of the sheer need of comfort by Coco Channel. These dresses represented the “free and wild” women, who after resisting societal norms were smoking, drinking, hiking up their skirts above their knees and ditching the corsets. The dresses and headbands introduced women the concept of “fashion being comfortable”.
Coco channel is also infamous for creating the women’s suit. The suit was largely accepted by women, because when they set out to occupy jobs that had been left wide open by men joining the army for World War 1,they needed something comfortable and work appropriate. When the time came around with their sons and husbands returning from the World War, women were expected to vacate the jobs they had filled in absence of men. This came with another alteration in the fashion for women which was they were use to the comfort of suits and refused to resort back to restricting corsets. They started wearing straight cut dresses and pants.
This caused a worldwide fury but was afterward accepted. After the world war, men also resorted to more comfortable pieces of clothing and wore more fitted clothes to give structure to their body.
During this time Fashion around the world was influenced completely by the west and hence women around the world started wearing dresses that were less constrictive. Women in India still wore clothes that represented their nativity, clothes like saris, Ghagras and Kurtis were the popular choices.
After the second world war, fashion around the world took a massive turn. Baggy clothes were the new rage. From bell bottoms to bell sleeves everywhere one looked they could spot at least one of the mentioned bells. This rage caught on and grew even more popular after the ‘Flower Power” age. Till now baggy clothes have a special spot in fashion magazines and shows.
There was no subsequent heir of the “Baggy clothes “trend that took over the fashion world. Trends kept on repeating themselves in various alterations. The new age fashion is heavily dependent on comfort. This dependence comes from the versatility of jobs and the high demand for efficiency. Nowadays Yoga Pants are seen as an acceptable form of clothing if topped of with the correct pair of shoes. Celebrities starting their own fashion line and using their massive fan following to sell it has also determined the fashion choices of this generation.
All in all the fashion industry has been changing since its inception and will continue to do so. If you are looking to be “IN VOGUE” you better buckle up and keep a loose hand on those wallet strings, cause boy o boy is it going to be expensive.
Mohan is a Junior Associate at Swag Swami, an online E-Commerce portal for funky T Shirt in India. He is also an avid gamer who spends his free time logged into Steam. He also practices Yoga and meditation regularly and teaches Yoga at the Cosmopolitan Center in India.