The new silhouette was a softer shape of the tea dress. It had evolved into soft evening wear that included straight vertical lines and a high waist.

1895  Artist  H. Beamtot

These dresses would have been a lot comfier to wear as they were a lot more casual and let you relax more when compared to previous clothing like corsets and Hobble skirts from the 1900’s.

It was Paul Poiret who was responsible for changing the way women dressed and led them to a much more comfortable way of dressing.


Before the first world war, Poiret became the most exciting couturier a few years before the start of the first world war. If the world war had started a few years before then this mark in fashion history would have been majorly delayed.


The suffragettes had a major turning point in 1912. They began to use militant tactics like chaining themselves to railings.


They wore main stream fashion and wore the colours of white, purple and green. These colours stood for purity, dignity and hope.

suffragettes colours

Men of the early 1900’s had to dress appropriately at all times and must have had an extensive wardrobe. Although they were still obliged to dress appropriately, they began to dress a lot less formally- they began to wear suits called lounge suits. These often had long tails at the back of the jacket.

lounge suit

Saville Row and Bond Street became a popular part of tailoring history as on these London Streets were where the long established tailors were based.

tailors sav row

British tailoring was considered to be the best in the world and the wealthy shopped on Bond street and Saville Row. The popularity of the top hat had steadily decreased by this point in fashion history. They started to only appear when formal occasions arose from 1914.

top hat cover

As well as ladies being allowed to wear more comfortable, relaxed clothing like tea gowns and dresses with an empire line (Paul Poiret), men of the 1910’s to 20’s began to wear special smoking jackets. They were the masculine equivalent of the tea gown and they were made of soft fabrics which allowed a more comfortable wearer. They were often embellished or frogged.

smoking jacket

The first world war began in 1914 and there began a significant change in fashion design, fabrics and manufacture.


The world war did not effect the Paris Fashion Week however it did begin to effect the higher society

Because many male couturiers signed up for service it meant they had left women in charge

the working woman

Although the war began in 1914, America did not enter the war until 1917. Americas fashion industry then began to support the French fashion houses

The international standing of Paris Fashion Houses remained unchallenged by American talent despite wartime setbacks.

Peplums began to appear on women’s dresses, they also had drapes and layered skirts too.

peplum ww1

layered dress

62.129_threequarter_front 0003

Tailored jackets and suits with waisted silhouettes became fashionable and military styling began to filter though into women’s wardrobes. In 1915 a number of designers introduced military references to their collections and the colour Khaki appeared in Vogue

military fashion


Skirts also shifted away from the hobble skirt which impeded the woman’s stride, and towards a softer, more flared and tiered style. Hemlines began to get shorter by 1916 and became increasingly important.

short hemline

Clothing that required elaborate cleaning and pressing were modified as it became too much work because there was a shortage of domestic labour during the war.

As the war progressed, daywear became the most important because people no longer embraced the frovolity of evening dress. However over the war there was a decline seen in the popularity of the tea gown and women began to wear an outfit called a travelling suit.

travelling suit

The biggest reason to change the design of wartime dress was Gabrielle Chanel. She developed more practical, sporty clothing. She designed sporty clothing which were ideal for wartime chic. Chanel also deigned and development the world famous Jersey Suit. They became the virtue of simplicity. The Chanel suit became known for a “new uniform for afternoon and evening”.

chanel suit vogue

blog chanel suit

chanel suit

Chanel said “simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”

Her reason for the use of Jersey in her suits were that jersey was practical, low cost and draped well allowing it to flow from the body making it comfortable to wear and a popular choice.

Jersey had previously been used in menswear for sports and underwear but Chanel made the fabric the height of fashion.

men underwear 1900

From 1916, there were  an increase in numbers of men that were joining the services. This meant that women were encouraged to enter the work force helping at farms to grow crops and food for the war, and working in factories making practical clothing for the highly skilled jobs in transport, hospitals and farms.

women working telephones

women working

women working farms

Women adopted men’s styling as a new approach to working dress. They wore breeches, dungarees, boiler suits and low heeled lace up boots.

women wearing mens clothes

The changes in dress during the war time also echoed in under garments. Women began to wear softer corsets which were much more practical. These bust bodices were no longer used to shape the body, just support it.

brassiere 2

brassiere 1

Even after the war had finished Paris continued to dominate international fashion. There became a huge demand for wedding dresses which gave the industry a b00st. Every couture house enjoyed the booming trade after the war had ended.

womens land army


wartime fashion

World War 1 marked an important time in fashion history because of its many developments of making fashion become a lot more practical to wear. It was important for clothes to become a lot more practical, comfortable and easier to wear, without the world war, many parts of fashion may not have changed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s