Looking back... Fashion in the 1890s

The Westlake Historical Society is proud to present "Clothing Styles in the 1890s" by Dr. Marie Albano, D.D.S., Museum Clothing Curator.

The 1890s brought delightful fashions for women after restrictive fashions of the 1880s. Clothing became softer and more practical. The 1890s brought a whole new entourage of exciting new things. Authors such as H.G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw were popular. The safety razor was invented and Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee. Freud was writing his papers, Marconi invented radio telegraphy, and Ford was building cars. Eastman had perfected the Kodak box camera. Edison's electrical lamps were lighting homes.

Women's skirts were basic and were flat in the front and fuller in the back and sides. Shoulders were broad and sleeves were full, especially at the shoulder line. Sleeves were puffed "out" not "up." They were referred to as "leg o'mutton sleeves" and different forms of support were used. 

Blouses called "waists" were designed after men's fashion. When women wore waisted coats, the jacket and the skirt matched so it had the appearance of a 3-piece suit. In the 1890s colors for clothing were intense and did not always go well together. One of the favorite colors of the time period was yellow. Fashionable women still laced up their corsets tightly, but hoopskirts were out of fashion. Hats varied from small to huge. Hair styles were simple in the back with a few curls around the forehead. Veils were in fashion as well. Styles reflected personal tastes due to the invention of the sewing machine. Things could be made faster and with less expense than before.

For men, frock coats were longer. Fabrics were generally softer except for the shirt with a highly starched stand up collar. For men, patent leather pointed shoes were in style for evening wear. Casual day wear included white flannel pants and a dark jacket in the summer. Men still carried many accessories including walking canes, card cases, gloves and cigarette cases. 


January is Membership Renewal month at the Westlake Historical Society. All paid memberships postmarked by January 31st are entered into a drawing for a gift basket valued at $100.00. For more information, check our web site at www.westlakeohiohistory.org or call us at (440) 471 - 4090. 

Read More on Local History
Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 8:50 PM, 01.10.2010