Unveiling the Timeless 1900s Fashion for Women

The 1900s was an era of elegance and sophistication in fashion, particularly for women. During this time, women’s fashion underwent a transformation with changing silhouettes, styles, and fabrics. Women’s attire was characterized by long dresses, corsets, and lavish accessories that created a striking and timeless look. In this article, we will take a trip back in history and explore the timeless 1900s fashion for women.

Unveiling the Timeless 1900s Fashion for Women
Unveiling the Timeless 1900s Fashion for Women

The Inspiration Behind 1900s Fashion

The 1900s was a decade of immense change, especially when it came to fashion. New styles emerged that challenged the traditional norms of dress, and women’s fashion was particularly affected. So, what inspired the fashion of the 1900s?

Art Nouveau

One major influence on fashion during this time was Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau was a style that focused on flowing, organic designs that were often inspired by nature. This style was particularly popular in Europe, and it quickly took hold in the world of fashion as well. In particular, Art Nouveau influenced the shapes and patterns found in women’s clothing and accessories. Dresses and skirts featured flowing lines and floral patterns, while jewelry was often adorned with intricate details and gemstones.


Another major influence on fashion during the 1900s was Orientalism. This refers to the fascination with the cultures and aesthetics of the East, particularly China and Japan. This influence can be seen in the use of silk and other luxurious fabrics, as well as the incorporation of Eastern-inspired motifs and patterns into clothing and accessories. Women’s kimonos, for example, became popular items of clothing during this time, and many fashion designers began to incorporate kimono-like elements into their designs.

The Rise of Department Stores

Finally, the rise of department stores played a significant role in shaping fashion during the 1900s. Department stores allowed fashion to become more accessible to the masses, and they helped to create a demand for new styles and designs. In addition, the increasing popularity of ready-to-wear clothing meant that women no longer had to rely solely on custom-made garments. This made fashion more affordable and accessible to women of different social classes.

The Silhouette of the 1900s

Unveiling the Timeless 1900s Fashion for Women takes a look back at a time when style was defined by class and grace. The fashion of the day was shaped by the silhouette that women were expected to wear, along with the social expectations of the time.

The S-Curve Silhouette

The S-curve silhouette was the dominant style of the 1900s. It was characterized by a tightly corseted waist and a defined bosom, with the hips pushed back to create the S-curve shape. The idealized body type was an hourglass figure with a small waist and full bust and hips. To achieve this look, women wore corsets that were made of steel and tightly laced up. The corset would not only shape the body but also provide support for the back.

The S-curve silhouette was often accompanied by a “pigeon-breasted” style that emphasized the bust by pushing it forward and upward. This effect was achieved by wearing a very tight corset, coupled with a tightly laced brassiere that would lift the breasts and give them a cone-like shape.

  • Women’s clothing was tailored to this silhouette with drooping skirts that accentuated the S-curve shape.
  • The skirts were often made of lighter fabrics like cotton and linen, and then layered to add volume and support.
  • The bodices were highly decorated with ruffles, lace, and ribbons.

The Gibson Girl Style

The Gibson Girl style was inspired by the illustrations of Charles Dana Gibson, a popular illustrator in the 1900s. The Gibson Girl represented the ideal woman of that era, independent, educated, and beautiful. The style was typified by a high waistline, puffed sleeves, and a fitted blouse. The blouse was often paired with a long, flowing skirt that had a high slit in the front.

The Gibson Girl was known for her hallmark hairstyle, which was a loose chignon at the back of her head, with loose curls around her face. This hairstyle became the epitome of the fashionable woman, representing beauty and elegance.

The Gibson Girl style was also characterized by her love of the outdoors. She was often depicted playing golf or tennis, and her style reflected this passion with shorter hemlines on her skirts and more relaxed clothing overall. The emphasis was on being active and comfortable, rather than just looking good.

  • The Gibson Girl style was very popular for afternoon events and outdoor activities.
  • The blouses were usually tailored to be fitted, with high collars and puffed sleeves.
  • The skirts were often made of heavier fabrics like wool and had flared trains at the back.

Materials and Accessories

The 1900s was a remarkable time for women’s fashion. Women began to move towards more practical clothing that allowed for easier daily activities. Many fabrics and accessories became popular during this time period, including:


Lace was a popular material used in dressmaking. It was often used as an overlay on bodices, skirts, and sleeves. Often women would layer their dresses to create a more interesting look.

Silk was also commonly used and became fashionable due to its elegant look and soft texture. It was used in dresses, lingerie, and accessories such as scarves and handkerchiefs.

Calico, a type of printed cotton, was another popular fabric. It was often used for everyday dresses and could be found in a variety of colors and patterns.


The most popular colors in women’s fashion during the 1900s were pastels, white, and black. Light pink, blue, and green were often used in summer dresses, while dark colors such as navy and maroon were popular in winter.

White was also a popular color, especially for summer clothing. White lace dresses were a must-have in any woman’s wardrobe.


Parasols were a popular fashion accessory for women in the early 1900s and were used primarily to shield the face and arms from the sun. They were often made of silk and lace and were available in a variety of colors and floral patterns.

Gloves were also popular and were essential for any formal occasion. Silk gloves were popular for the summer, while leather gloves were worn during colder months.

Hats were an essential accessory for any woman during the 1900s. In the early 1900s, large brimmed hats were popular, while smaller, more ornate hats became fashionable in the later half of the decade.

The Role of Undergarments

The early 1900s marked the dawn of a new era for women’s fashion. With the introduction of new undergarments such as corsets, petticoats, and bloomers, the silhouette of women’s clothing was transformed. These undergarments were designed to shape the figure and enhance the curves of women’s bodies.


Corsets were an essential undergarment worn by women during the 1900s. They were designed to cinch the waistline tightly, giving women an hourglass figure. Originally made of whalebone, corsets were later replaced with more comfortable materials such as metal and plastic. However, the use of corsets has been linked to health problems such as restricted breathing, indigestion, and even spinal deformities.


Petticoats were another essential undergarment worn by women during the 1900s. These were designed to be worn under dresses, and they added volume to the skirt, creating a fuller appearance. Petticoats were usually made of cotton or silk, and they were available in various designs and lengths.

  • One of the most popular types of petticoats during the early 1900s was the princess petticoat. This had a fitted waistband and a flared out skirt that added volume to the dress.


Bloomers were another type of undergarment that gained popularity during the 1900s. These were designed to be worn under dresses and were made of lightweight and breathable materials such as cotton or linen. Bloomers were loose-fitting and were designed to provide comfort and flexibility to women. They were an important part of the dressing reform movement that aimed to bring more comfortable and practical clothing options for women.

As the fashion industry evolved, the use of undergarments became less popular, and women’s clothing became more streamlined and simple. However, the legacy of undergarments from the early 1900s still lives on in the fashion world today.

Hairstyles and Beauty Trends

If you’re a lover of vintage trends, it’s time to travel back to the early 1900s and explore the unique hairstyles and beauty trends that were popular among women. From flamboyant hairstyles to make-up, certain styles have stood the test of time and is still a sought-after inspiration for modern fashionistas. Here’s a glimpse of the popular trends of the 1900s.

Pompadour Hairstyle

The pompadour style was one of the trendiest hairstyles for women during the early 1900s. It was characterized by long hair that was pinned up at the back and styled into a large mound of hair on top of the head. The hair was often tightly curled and held in place with pins and hairspray. The pompadour was popularized by French fashion icon Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV.

The Gibson Girl Look

The Gibson Girl look was also popular during the early 1900s. It was characterized by a high-piled pompadour hairstyle, combined with a loose, flowing hairstyle around the face. Women with long hair simply wore it in a loose bun or chignon at the back, accompanied by a set of curly tendrils framing their face. This look was named after the famous illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, who used this style to represent the ideal American woman.

Arsenic as Makeup

It’s hard to believe now, but during the early 1900s, arsenic was used in various beauty products. From bleaching creams to powders, arsenic was believed to be a miracle ingredient that enhances the skin’s glow and clears and whitens the complexion. One of the most popular was the arsenic-laced face powder, which contained rice powder, bismuth subnitrate, and arsenic.

Beauty Marks

Beauty marks have always been a symbol of beauty, and during the early 1900s, women used them to create a refined and elegant look. These were usually applied to the face with a cosmetic pencil or powder, mimicking the natural moles that women may have on their faces. They were placed strategically on the cheek, upper lip, or forehead to add a touch of uniqueness to their look.

The Chicory Stained Lips

Another trend that began in the early 1900s was the dark lip. Women used to darken their lips using chicory stalks, which produced a natural berry-stained color. However, things changed when lipstick was invented in the 1920s, and by the late 1920s, lipstick had become a popular cosmetic product that nearly everyone wore.

Why the 1900s Fashion is Timeless

The 1900s fashion for women has captivated the imagination of designers, fashionistas, and clothing enthusiasts for more than a century. This era of fashion has become an enduring inspiration for clothing trends, from elegant lace dresses to tailored suits. The following are some of the reasons why 1900s fashion is timeless.

The Evolution of Fashion

The 1900s marked a time of significant fashion evolution. The clothing styles that emerged during that period continue to inspire fashion designers all over the world. The use of intricate lace, beautiful embroidery, and sleek silhouettes in women’s clothing during this era has continued to influence contemporary fashion. The structured style of clothing, with an emphasis on fabric quality, has led to the production of clothing items that are not only beautiful but also durable.

A Timeless Beauty

The concept of beauty was a prevalent theme in 1900s fashion, and this has continued to the present day. The hourglass figure, full hips, small waist, and a slight bust, which was highly celebrated in the 1900s, have become a timeless standard for feminine beauty. This period also marked the beginning of the incorporation of ornamentation in clothing, which has continued as a constant in fashion.

Ease of Wearing

The 1900s fashion is known for its ease and comfort in wearing. Gone were the days of uncomfortable corsets and tight-fitting clothing; fashion during this period was all about looking great while feeling relaxed. This change in fashion brought about the introduction of loose-fitting clothing, shorter hemlines, and adjusted waistlines, which paved the way for modern clothing designs.

A Cultural Shift

The 1900s was a period of significant cultural shifts particularly for women. It was a period where women’s fight for equality was gaining momentum, which led to more relaxed clothing styles that enabled them to participate more actively in various social activities. Women were involved in sporting activities, and this led to the introduction of sportswear for women, which has continued to evolve and become more versatile.

The Art of Tailoring

One of the significant contributions of the 1900s fashion was the emphasis on tailoring. This era placed an increased focus on the quality of fabric and attention to detail. Tailoring became an essential element of fashion, and this has translated into the production of clothing items that are not only stylish but also of exceptional quality.

Influence in Modern Fashion

The 1900s fashion has been a considerable inspiration for modern fashion trends. Elements such as lace, embroidery, and ornamentation that were popular in the 1900s, have been incorporated into modern clothing designs. These trends have been reimagined into contemporary clothing and accessories that can be seen on the runway and in clothing stores across the globe.

The 1900s fashion for women has proven to be timeless and has continued to influence fashion trends for over a century. With its emphasis on quality, comfort, and beauty, this era has left an indelible mark in the fashion world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Answers
What are the popular fashion trends of the 1900s? The popular fashion trends of the 1900s include high-necked blouses, long skirts, and corsets.
How did women accessorize in the 1900s? Women accessorized in the 1900s by wearing hats, gloves, and jewelry.
What was the importance of the Gibson Girl? The Gibson Girl set a fashion standard for women in the 1900s and was seen as a symbol of independence and confidence.
How did fashion change throughout the 1900s? Fashion in the 1900s shifted from conservative and restrictive styles to more comfortable and practical clothing, such as pants and suits for women.
What hairstyles were popular in the 1900s? The pompadour, the chignon, and the Gibson Girl hairstyles were popular in the 1900s.
Were women allowed to wear pants in the 1900s? It was considered taboo for women to wear pants in the 1900s, but it became more acceptable towards the end of the decade.

Thank You for Taking a Step Back in Time with Us

We hope you enjoyed learning about the timeless fashion of the 1900s for women. From high-necked blouses to long skirts, these styles have made a comeback and are still celebrated today. The Gibson Girl set the tone for women’s independence and fashion, and women’s clothing became more practical and comfortable as the years went on. Thank you for taking a step back in time with us, and remember to visit us again for more fascinating historic fashion stories!

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