The essay "An Twentieth Century Overview of Fashions Transient Trends" talks about trends in fashion in the 20th century. Basically until the turn of the century, there was a definite preference for plumpness of women in Western civilization. You can see it in the art, where you're pretty hard-pressed to find an image of a thin woman," says Laura Fraser. (42) That began to change between 1900 and 1920, "when it was possible for the first time for people…to have enough to eat that the status symbol flipped. Once seen as a sign of health and prosperity to be fat - now there was an elitism to being thin. According to Alexis Gregory (38-49), in the early 1900’s women’s dress was sturdy, heavy, and rigid, a reflection of the Edwardian period of dress, and the silhouette was that of an hour glass, now that being plump was unfashionable. Female bodies were stuffed into a miniscule waist, and then padded in other areas such as the bosom and buttocks. The effect was that of a waspish figure. This hourglass shape became more of an "S" curve when longer lined "health" corsets became fashionable. They supported the spine and abdomen, but it made the fashionable woman look as if she was always leaning forward. As always, historical upheaval creates change in all sectors of society, including fashion. World War I being an important event in the “teens,” fashion suddenly became much more practical to accommodate other needs. The Great War (1914 to 1918) changed people's lives in many ways. Men went to war and women were left at home to do the jobs formerly performed by men. Women's shoes and clothing needed to be more practical so they could move freely and perform job duties. Women's clothing imitated a man's clothing as they were taking on a more masculine role. (Barker, 133)
Events like the women's suffrage movement caused fashion to take on a new dimension. The corseted waist abandoned, the hobble skirt that imitated "harem" skirts of the Middle East became fashionable. Paul Poiret, a popular designer of the time, is credited with this fashion movement leaning toward Eastern influence. However, taking very tiny steps also became immensely popular, presumably to exaggerate the fact that a woman's stride is shorter than a man's. Some skirts were so narrow that it was nearly impossible to move. For concern over splitting the skirt, women sometimes wore a length of cord to keep their legs from moving too much.
After the War in 1918 the Suffragettes won the right to vote in the United Kingdom, and the same happened in America in 1920. Fashion continued to be more casual throughout the 1920's. After the war, the values of the older generation that had created the war were questioned and discredited. The culture became enamored with youth, American culture in particular. Fashion looked toward the younger crowd for inspiration. The "College Man" and "The Flapper" were the new icons of fashion, young and strong and smart. What was the effect on women They began dieting to achieve the teenage shape of a young girl-flatter, thinner, and with long waistlines to hide adult curves. Brasseries were created to flatten breasts with the appearance of immaturity. "In the 1920s, stylish women put their breasts under cover, with constricting devices like the one from the Boyish Form Brassiere Company of New York, guaranteed to 'give you that boy-like flat appearance.'" (Henig, 1)
How did the Great Depression affect women's fashion The fashionable dress of the day reflects a determination to grow up, to do penance for