Here’s a nice summary/overview of women’s styles and fashion from 1860 to 1975.
If you need to create a costume, keep these tips in mind. You’ll be amazed at what you can find in second hand clothing stores! We created many of our murder mystery dinner theater costumes using this simple guide, some photos for visuals and a second hand store. Victorian skirts often had to be constructed from scratch but you just might get lucky to find a long, full skirt in a used clothing store that you can modify. To make your own skirt, I suggest doing a Google search for “how to make a victorian style skirt”. You’ll have lots of options to choose from.
For some great visuals, do searches on Pinterest. It’s a goldmine of photographs and drawings of period styles and costumes. Click here for fashion resource links for each decade just to give you examples: Womens Fashion by Decade Resource Links.
1860-1919 Women’s Fashion
A lady never went out w/out hat, purse, gloves, wrap
- Large/medium brimmed, straw or cloth; can decorate with colorful feathers, flowers, ribbons
- Short gloves in black, white or brown
- Small draw string, clutch, beaded & ornate
- Earrings: dangling but dainty/feminine. Pearls.
- Bracelet/necklaces: pearls, cameos, gold, silver. Rhinestone for dress up.
- Black tights
- Granny shoes: ankle high & lace up OR plain, short-heeled dark colored flats
1920-34 Women’s Fashion
- Day: Cloch hats, turbans, short-brimmed straw
- Night: Headbands of beads, sequins or lame w/feathers. Scarves wrapped around the head and knotted on the side.
- Any length glove depending on dress and time of day
- Small, beaded purses, usually clutch
- Earrings: dangling but not too outrageous for day; bold dangling beads, sequins, rhinestones for night.
- Necklaces: Very long pearl beads often complemented by a ribbon or beaded chocker
- Bracelets: rhinestone, bangle
- Black, white or fishnet stockings
- Flat heeled slippers or short heeled pumps
1935-46 Women’s Fashion
More conservative well-bred look.
- Day: a must but may be removed after arrival for evening affair. Felt, cloth, Juliet caps, close hats, short brimmed “saucy” hats. During war time, had a definite military influence. May be decorated w/small feathers/ribbons.
- Gloves: A MUST
- day: short or half length
- night: half or full
- Purse: sensible, boxy w/handles for the day; small clutches for evenings.
- Day: subdued. Cluster earrings, short strings of pearls, brooches.
- Evening: Dangling, rhinestone earrings. Necklaces: chockers or short length.
- Day: neutral stockings w/seams (if possible)
- Night: fishnets or black stockings
- Sensible pumps with 3″ heel or platform; plain rounded toe.
1947-57 Women’s Fashion
Somewhat tailored but tight waists and full skirts
- Generally a must during the day for older women. Pill boxes w/veils, small hats that fit on the head. Nothing big, no brims.
- Young girls didn’t have to wear a hat but would tie a short scarf around ponytail or wear a headband
- Gloves: for older women
- Purse: boxy w/handles. Alligator, leather, straw. Large clutches.
- Earrings: Cluster, sm. pearl, no dangling
- Necklaces: Short, beads, pearls, gold, silver
- Bracelets: Bangle or charm
- Neutral tone stockings
- Spike heels. Sensible pumps. Saddle shoes.
1958-67 Women’s Fashion
Jackie Kennedy sets the tone. Younger girls went for the Connie Francis look.
- Pill boxes. Outrageous, unusual designs.
- Under age 40, hats no longer a must
- Gloves: optional
- Purses: same as 1947-57
- Earrings: big clusters (on the gaudy side)
- Necklaces: short & med. length
- Neutral, black, white or coffee tights. Late 1960’s any color goes.
- Fairly moderate heels or spikes with pointed toes
1968-75 Women’s Fashion
- Miss America: same as 1958-67
- Hippie: floppy, wide brimmed, w/scarves tied around top. Indian headbands, feathers tied to a cord.
- Miss America purses: same as 1958-67, Gloves for special occasions only.
- Hippie purses: leather or cloth fringed bags w/drawstring or large cloth bags w/many compartments
- Miss America: Same as 1958-67
- Hippie: long and dangling earrings. Lots of silver. Love beads. Lots & lots of necklaces, anklets & bracelets.
- Miss America: spike heels until end of 60’s; sensible pumps.
- Hippie: Any color stockings. Platform, wedgies, clogs, sandals.
Next Month: Men’s styles and fashions through the decades.
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