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1890’s Fashion : Allocate the Iconic Majesty of Fashion

The 1890’s fashion was a distinctive decade in fashion, marking a transition from the elaborate styles of the past to more practical and slightly less restrictive attire. This period saw the continuation of the hourglass silhouette, achieved through tightly laced corsets, and the prominence of dramatic leg-of-mutton sleeves. Women’s fashion in the 1890s blended influences from both 18th and 19th century fashion, creating a unique look characterized by luxurious fabrics, intricate details, and elegant accessories. This era set the stage for the more radical changes in women’s fashion that would unfold in the early 20th century.


  • Men’s Fashion
  • Women’s Fashion
  • Fabrics and Textiles
  • Accessories and Accoutrements
  • Key Figures and Influence
  • Legacy of 1890s Fashion


Men’s Fashion in the 1890’s

Continuation of Formality

The 1890s continued the trend of formal dressing established in the previous century. Frock coats remained popular for formal daytime occasions, though they began to give way to the less formal morning coats, especially for weddings and daytime events.

Rise of the Sack Suit

The sack suit emerged as a staple of men’s everyday wear during the 1890s. This suit, characterized by its looser fit and lack of a waist seam, provided greater comfort and practicality for men engaged in daily activities. It became the preferred choice for business attire and informal social gatherings.

Influence of Sporting Attire

The growing popularity of outdoor activities such as cycling and lawn tennis had an impact on men’s fashion. Sporting attire, with its emphasis on comfort and mobility, influenced the design of everyday clothing, leading to the adoption of looser-fitting trousers and more relaxed silhouettes.

Technological Innovations

Advances in textile manufacturing and tailoring techniques allowed for greater variety and quality in men’s clothing. Ready-to-wear garments became more accessible, offering men a wider range of styles and options to choose from.

Accessories and Details

Accessories played a significant role in men’s fashion during the 1890s. Detachable collars, often made of stiff linen or celluloid, allowed for easy customization of dress shirts. Neckwear, such as cravats, ascots, and four-in-hand ties, added a touch of elegance to formal attire. Pocket watches, adorned with decorative chains, served as both practical timepieces and fashion statements.

Women’s Fashion in the 1890’s

Hourglass Silhouette

The ideal female silhouette of the 1890s featured a pronounced hourglass shape, achieved through the use of tight corsets to cinch the waist and emphasize the hips and bust. This silhouette was a continuation of the trend from the late 19th century, reflecting societal standards of beauty and femininity.

Leg-of-Mutton Sleeves

One of the most distinctive features of 1890s fashion was the prevalence of leg-of-mutton sleeves. These sleeves were voluminous at the shoulders and tapered down to a fitted cuff at the wrist, creating a dramatic and fashionable silhouette. They were often made of lightweight fabrics like muslin or silk and adorned with lace or other decorative elements.

Rise of Tailored Separates

The 1890s saw the increasing popularity of tailored separates for women, such as tailored jackets paired with gored skirts or shirtwaists (blouses) worn with skirts. This departure from the more structured and elaborate dresses of previous decades reflected changing attitudes towards women’s roles and activities, with an emphasis on practicality and mobility.

Influence of Art Nouveau and Aestheticism

The aesthetic movements of Art Nouveau and Aestheticism influenced women’s fashion during the 1890s, with an emphasis on natural forms, intricate patterns, and rich colors. Dresses were often adorned with floral motifs, swirling patterns, and asymmetrical designs, reflecting the artistic trends of the period.

Accessories and Adornments

Women’s fashion in the 1890s was incomplete without a range of accessories and adornments. Large, elaborate hats adorned with feathers, flowers, and ribbons were a hallmark of the era. Gloves, parasols, and fans were essential accessories, both practical and fashionable. Jewelry, including brooches, necklaces, and earrings, added a touch of glamour to outfits.

Overview of Fabrics and Textiles in 1890s Fashion

Luxurious Fabrics for Fancy Outfits:

  • Dresses for fancy events were made of shiny silk or smooth satin, giving them a fancy and elegant look.
  • Velvet was also popular, especially for adding fancy decorations like trimmings or ribbons to dresses.

Everyday Wear in Simple Fabrics:

  • For everyday wear, women’s dresses were often made of sturdy wool or lightweight cotton.
  • Cotton was preferred for its comfort and easy care, while wool provided warmth and durability for outdoor activities.

Accessories and Accoutrements of 1890s Fashion

  1. Hats: Hats were a must-have accessory for both men and women during the 1890s. Women wore large hats adorned with feathers, flowers, and ribbons, while men preferred bowler hats or top hats for formal occasions. Hats not only added style to outfits but also provided protection from the sun.
  2. Gloves: Gloves were an essential accessory for women, worn as a symbol of elegance and refinement. They were made of various materials such as leather, silk, or lace, and came in a range of colors to match different outfits. Gloves were worn for both practical reasons, like keeping hands warm, and as a fashion statement.
  3. Parasols: Parasols were popular accessories for women, especially during sunny weather. These handheld umbrellas provided shade and protection from the sun’s rays while also adding a touch of sophistication to outfits. Parasols were often made of delicate fabrics like silk or lace and could be intricately decorated with embroidery or fringe.
  4. Jewelry: Jewelry played a significant role in 1890s fashion, adding sparkle and glamour to outfits. Women adorned themselves with brooches, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, often featuring intricate designs and precious gemstones. Jewelry was used to complement dresses and enhance their overall look, showcasing the wearer’s status and taste.
  5. Fans: Fans were both decorative and functional accessories for women in the 1890s. They were used to keep cool in warm weather and to add an air of elegance to social gatherings. Fans came in various shapes and designs, ranging from simple folding fans to ornate hand-painted ones. They were often made of materials like silk, lace, or feathers and could be beautifully embellished with patterns or motifs.

Key Figures and Influence of 1890s Fashion

In the world of 1890s fashion, key figures emerged whose innovations and influences shaped the way people dressed and perceived style. One such figure was Charles Frederick Worth, a British-born fashion designer based in Paris, who is often referred to as the father of haute couture. Worth’s designs were renowned for their exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail, setting new standards of luxury and elegance. His influence extended beyond the garments themselves, as he pioneered the concept of fashion shows and introduced the practice of creating exclusive designs for individual clients, cementing his status as a visionary in the fashion world.

Another notable figure in 1890s fashion was Queen Victoria of England, whose personal style and preferences had a significant impact on the trends of the time. Queen Victoria’s fondness for black mourning attire following the death of her husband, Prince Albert, influenced widespread mourning fashion throughout Europe and America. Her support for British designers and promotion of domestic industries also helped establish England as a leading center of fashion and textile production. Through their creativity, vision, and influence, figures like Worth and Queen Victoria left an indelible mark on 1890s fashion, shaping the way people dressed and perceived style for generations to come.

Legacy of 1890s Fashion

The legacy of 1890s fashion continues to influence modern style in various ways. Many design elements and trends from this era have persisted and evolved over time, leaving a lasting impact on how we dress today.

For example, the hourglass silhouette popularized in the 1890s remains a timeless ideal of feminine beauty, with modern fashion often emphasizing curves and waist definition. Additionally, the use of luxurious fabrics like silk and velvet for evening wear continues to evoke a sense of glamour and sophistication in contemporary fashion.

Overall, the legacy of 1890s fashion is evident in the enduring styles, silhouettes, and accessories that continue to shape the way we dress and express ourselves in the present day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the popular style for women’s dresses in the 1890s?

In the 1890s, women’s dresses typically featured a slim waist and a flared skirt, creating an hourglass silhouette. Dresses often had large sleeves called leg-of-mutton sleeves, and they were made of fabrics like silk, satin, or wool.

What accessories were commonly worn in the 1890s?

Common accessories in the 1890s included large hats decorated with feathers and ribbons, gloves, parasols for sun protection, and jewelry like brooches and necklaces. These accessories added elegance and style to outfits.

How did men dress in the 1890s?

Men in the 1890s typically wore formal frock coats or morning coats for special occasions. For everyday wear, they opted for sack suits, which were more relaxed in fit. Accessories for men included bowler hats, detachable collars, and pocket watches.

What fabrics were popular for clothing in the 1890s?

Luxurious fabrics like silk, satin, and velvet were popular for women’s evening wear in the 1890s, while practical fabrics like wool and cotton were used for everyday clothing. Wool was commonly used for men’s suits, providing warmth and durability.

Who were some influential figures in 1890s fashion?

Charles Frederick Worth, a British fashion designer based in Paris, was a key figure in 1890s fashion, known for his luxurious designs. Queen Victoria of England also influenced fashion with her mourning attire and support for British designers.


In the 1890s, fashion underwent a remarkable transformation. Blending elegance with practicality and reflecting the changing social dynamics of the time.  Women’s dresses showcased a slim waist and flared skirts. While, men’s fashion saw the rise of more relaxed sack suits alongside traditional formal attire. Accessories such as large hats, gloves, and parasols added flair to outfits. While influential figures like Charles Frederick Worth and Queen Victoria left their mark on the era’s style. Overall, 1890s fashion remains a captivating blend of sophistication and innovation, influencing trends for generations to come.

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