World War I brought about many changes for women, including suffrage and greater workplace freedom. Another area of change during this period was women’s fashion. (This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy, Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year, available wherever eBooks are sold.)
When the 1910s began, styles were very similar to those of the previous decade. Clothing, however, was beginning to show the shape of the female body, with the S-shape curve falling out of fashion.
Corsets became easier to move in and were used to support the body, not reshape it.
Hats were large and decorative and made a definite statement.
The hobble skirt, a cousin of today’s maxi skirt, was a popular fashion choice as was the lampshade shirt.
The hobble skirt got its name because it was very narrow at the ankle, forcing women to hobble to get from place to place.
The lampshade skirt had asymmetrical draping.
For the first time, women began to bob their hair, although the trend was considered shocking to some and took years to catch on.
The War Makes Fashion Practical
Thanks to the war, women no longer had time to devote to fashion, and trends like large hats and hobble skirts became impractical.
Women required clothing that reflected the reality of their new roles.
Among the changes:
- Women doing war work, such as manufacturing and mining, began wearing trousers.
- Skirt waistlines sat at the natural waist.
- Skirts became fuller to allow free movement.
- Hemlines shorted to about six inches above the ankle.
- Darker times meant dark colors were preferred.
- Costume jewelry was introduced as a substitute for real jewels.
- Hats became smaller, and women’s hairstyles grew shorter.
- The V neck replaced high necklines.
Changing Women’s Fashion
Notice in the photos below the difference between the styles worn in 1914 and 1919. By the end of the decade, fashions were beginning to resemble those of the 1920s.
If you enjoyed a peek at women’s fashion, I invite you to visit my Pinterest board Women’s Fashion: 1890-1920.
Updated: 16 October 2020