19th Century Fashion – How To Tell Different Decades Apart?

19th Century Fashion – How To Tell Different Decades Apart?

Hi! So today I’ll be showing you how to
tell different 19th century fashion decades apart. We’re not going to be
talking about what affected fashion but rather what the clothes looked like. Everything in fashion happens gradually so to understand what was going on at
the beginning of a new century let’s move back a bit to 1790s. 1790s were a
transition period. A new slender silhouette came to fashion but it took a
while till the ladies got rid of their bum rolls, wigs and wide petticoats. That’s why in some Jane Austen movie
adaptations you can still see the older generation wearing older 18th century
gowns, while the youngsters are dressed in the empire fashion. So in 1790s the waist gradually went higher, the skirts got narrower, the hair smaller (though
ladies still used to powder them), turbans and ostrich feathers were the thing.
Sleeves were usually elbow length. What’s typical for the era is that the skirts
were gathered at the back of the dress but also in front. That’s why when we
look at some of the 1790s fashion plates nowadays all of the ladies look kind of
pregnant. Also if you look at the back of a late 1790s or early 1800s dress you
can notice a very peculiar cut. The sleeves heads were pushed back towards the shoulder blades and the back of the dress was very short with the shortest
point being in the center. Women would even pad this bit of the skirt to make it look fuller. Despite a circulating stereotype this
new silhouette did not make women toss corsets away. Some brave French
fashionistas were not wearing them that’s true but corsets never
completely disappeared Mainly because the new silhouette required your bust to basically touch your chin. And what better way to achieve that than
some good old push-up bra? I mean, stays. The beginning of the 1800s saw the death of the heavily powdered hair and classicism inspired hair-dos
became all the rage. Women would style their coiffures after antique sculptures and paintings. The dresses also changed. Everyone got crazy about light delicate fabrics. The skirts’ trains were getting longer and longer, the busts were higher than ever and the bodices were really short. By 1810 the super long trains were
no longer in fashion (no longer, get it? haha) the skirts got wider and they became
more trapezoidal in shape. Rich Indian silks became fashionable. The waist began gradually dropping around 1815. Also the later in the decade the more
decoration on the everyday outfits. Grecian and Roman Hairstyles were
adapted into a very popular look which included curls on both sides of the face
together with an intricate updo. 1820s were a transitional period from a
classical empire silhouette to the crazily over-the-top 1830s. So the skirts got wider and wider shorter and shorter the waist drop lower and lower the
sleeves grew bigger and bigger and more and more decorations started to appear
on the dresses. The hem of the skirts was padded to help achieve the trapezoidal
shape. In 1830s everything kept growing until the middle of the decade and let
me tell you got really intense. Women would wear multiple petticoats
some of them stiffened by cording or horsehair to hold the volume of the
skirts that were now shorter than ever. They even wore special sleeve supports
to make the sleeves bigger. The waist was pretty low at this point but still a bit
higher than ladies’ natural waists. Thanks to Queen Victoria who was
coronated in 1837 modesty and minimalism came to fashion. From 1836 everything
started decreasing, the sleeve puffs started moving downwards, the decoration started disappearing, the skirts were back to floor length, the updos got flat and in the
late 1830s the waist finally reached its natural position. 1840s were a decade of earthy colors, fitted pointy bodices, and fitted sleeves, tight collars usually
separately attached, and small geometrical patterns. Basically everything got tighter and the only thing that kept growing was the width of
women’s skirts that required more and more support. Popular hair style was a low
bun and the middle parting and that with some minor modifications was a hot look
up until the late 1860s. In the 1850s the problem of growing skirts became so big (big, got it?) that it was necessary to develop a special construction to help
them stay in shape and not floppy. That construction was called crinoline and it was patented in 1856. Now note that the crinoline did not
exist until then so if you hear about 18th century crinolines,
that’s absolute nonsense. 18th century ladies were hoop skirts or panniers. 1850s skirts were often ruffled which is an easy way to tell them apart from 1840s
skirts. Same goes for the sleeves which in 1850s were wide and called pagoda
sleeves. Women would often wear fake white sleeves underneath so they could
peek from the pagoda sleeves. The waist dropped a little bit below the actual
waist level and got longer in the front Plaid dresses were all the rage as well
as floral motives. In 1860s the shape of the whole silhouette started changing. After the waist reached its lowest point in 1850s it started going a little bit
above the natural waist level in the 1860s. Buttoned bodices became fashionable,
the ruffled plaid skirts were gone and instead plain solid colors were in
fashion, with geometrical trimmings such as the Greek key decorating the hems. The shape of the skirt changed slightly and so did the shape of the crinoline
underneath, accentuating the back. Apart from being gathered or pleated at
the waist some skirts were also made of panels. From about 1867 the transitional
period started. The waist would start traveling even higher
but the skirt this time instead of expanding on decreasing would start
getting more volume at the back It would also gradually become more and
more decorated. The crinolines gradually morphed into crinolettes and then
around the beginning of 1870s into bustles. That’s how we enter the bustle
era. 1870s where a decade I would compare to 1830s – big hair, a lot of decorations,
frills, flowers, laces, pinks and pastels. A huge inspiration for 1870s was 18th
century fashion and you can kind of tell. Even the hairstyles were sort of
Marie Antoinette inspired. Some people would literally take old family dresses from let’s say 1780s and redo them into fashionable creations. Dresses were also influenced by Renaissance and medieval fashions. About the butts – the 1870s bustle was large and the skirt was in trapezoidal shape. To accentuate the
silhouette even more women would wear two skirts one of them was an underskirt
which went – surprise surprise – under, and the other went on top and was called the
over skirt. Over skirts were draped to make the butts look even bigger. And then, suddenly the butts disappeared! Around 1878 women dropped the big bustles and chose to wear small bum pads instead. The skirts got really narrow but instead of
the fullness the designers came up with length and added long trains. This look called the natural form era lasted for only about four years because around
1882, the bustles were back on track! Remember what happened after 1830s? Minimalism, geometry, earthy tones strictness – well this sort of happened
after the 1870s too. 1880s are known as the second bustle era
and though at first glance might look similar to 1870s there are some
significant differences that make it easier to tell them apart. Firstly the skirts are not the trapezoidal shape anymore. They were just a little bit wider than the hips. Secondly the shape of the corset changed slightly. Spoon busked corsets came into fashion giving the illusion of a full belly and I swear
I’m not making it up. And from a more harsh geometrical 1870s shape, a curvy wavy 1880s shape evolved. Thirdly, the bustles shape or rather angle
changed. Instead of gradually going down the bustles formed a sort of shelf on
the ladies bottoms. Fourthly (if that’s even a word) ladies’ hairstyles changed. Women would also start cutting their forehead hair and setting it into frizzy
bangs. Not the most flattering look but if you have bangs this is one of the
rare 19th century fashion history moments when this look is historically
accurate. So as you probably noticed, changes in fashion history usually start with something gradually growing or decreasing or getting longer or shorter
so because skirts kept changing all the time at the beginning of the 1890s
people were like “Hey what about the sleeves” Sleeves it is then – from 1890 to
around 1895 the sleeves were getting bigger and bigger and bigger and to
balance the huge sleeves the skirts also had to get wider if you wonder what
happened to the bustle well it kind of disappeared. The only reminder that the
bustle was ever there was a peculiar pleat at the back of the skirts in early
1890s but those pleats disappeared after a while too. 1890s where a time where art
noveau was kind of huge so you can see that in the clothes and the way they’re cut
and made. Floral and geometrical designs cover the dresses, jackets and coats from
the era. What I especially love about the 1890s is the collars so especially the
coats and capes from the era jackets and generally speaking outerwear often had
very high spiky collars you know they’re Maleficent kind of collar The skirts changed once again from trapezoidal wide skirts in the middle of 1890s to
tulip-shaped narrower skirts by the end of the decade. Later in the decade women also
started getting rid of the weird frizzy bangs and a puffy more art nouveau
appropriate style was introduced. 1890s were the time of a big discussion around tight lacing, corsets and how they affect women’s health. Tight lacing wasn’t very popular before but by the end of 19th century more and more fashionistas
desired small waists. So the solution to the problem was an invention of an s-bend
corset or a health corset in 1900. It completely changed women’s silhouette
but that’s kind of a whole another story so maybe I’ll tell you about that when
we’re discussing 20th century I hope now I hope now when you hear about something being “Victorian- or “19th century style” you know there is no such thing because 19th
century was such a huge piece of fashion history with countless silhouettes cuts
and styles. Anyway I hope you enjoyed this messy explanation obviously, I
missed a lot of things and some things I listed as a typical thing for
one decade we’re actually also popular in other decades but just to give you a
general idea. Ok, thanks for listening and see you next time hopefully.

100 Replies to “19th Century Fashion – How To Tell Different Decades Apart?”

  1. The transition from high society french fashion of the monarchy to the simpler design of the french republic and empire is shown perfectly at the start of this video, 1790s to 1815. With the 1820s being the transition period between french styles dominating to english fashion dominating.

  2. I'm so glad that evey Jane Austen movie/series tried to be accurate, I never made a reasearch on this subject and still recognized some of the dresses. Thank you so much for all this information, I learned a lot! (and i'm not fluent in english but fully understood you, your pronunciation is awesome)

    ok, so: were the 1830's the preview of the 1980's???? what the hell???

  3. So much talent for drawing and so much knowledge about fashion history! It is a pitty that all these nice drawings disappeared in few seconds after being create. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I always thought 1870's fashion was a little inspired by 18th century fashion, fascinating ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for clarifying that

  5. Really enjoyed this. I'd like to suggest less of the drawing process and show the final drawing so you're not erasing the image so soon after telling us what it's about… more time to actually see the dress design you're talking about. Thank you for posting this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. thanks ! iโ€™m doing research for early california pre 1850s style . and this helps figure out what pictures are from what time periods , the only difference is thereโ€™s some spanish influence with the shawl and braids .

    but OMG looking on pinterest for the pictures can be downright traumatic at times!! so many postmortem pictures of old and young alike just randomly scattered . ahhhhhh

  7. This is so sad, can we bring back long skirts for every single woman? That would be great.

    Ps. pants are annoying and restricting, change my mind

  8. As lovely as your drawings are and the information interesting, you wipe the finished drawing too soon. Maybe speed up the drawing process a bit more and pause the finished drawing so we can actually see it. Nice content and well done, just think about this remark.

  9. You should also talk about what was going on during that time period too so we can visualise the time periid better. Great video though!

  10. this was SUPER helpful and really fun to watch!!! my friend and I are currently trying to make a comic set in the early 1890's, so it was really nice to be able to see what set that era apart. Would you be willing to do a similar video to this one for men's fashion in the 19th century? Btw loved the drawings ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I'm blown away by your art! So simple and clean and pretty!

    I'm personally interested in what I can recognize from the Hamilton broadway musical costuming. (If you're not familiar, I'd like to hear your thoughts about the costume decisions!) From what I remember, since it's a faithful(ish) adaptation of history with a hip-hop soundtrack, the theme was to have historically accurate costume from the neck down but modern hair/headpieces. Buuut the timeline of the musical stretches from the 1770s to the early 1800s with few costume changes, I'm now wondering exactly what time period the "accurate" costumes are set in.

    The ladies' clothing have really distinct silhouettes–a tight and non-curvy, cone-shaped corset; a bustle, but also the floor-length skirt flares out sideways from above the hips; and the sleeves are either narrow and extending to the wrist, or a little past elbow-length with wide lace underneath. (I'm not educated on fashion so my terms might not be right.) Google "schuyler sisters" if you want to take a look. I wonder what era that's specifically from, and whether any of the fashion was made up out of whole cloth (get it?).

  12. That's interesting, but could you do a 1900's-1990's fashion video because my grandma was born in '36 and when she tells me stories I'm always so confused because I had no idea girls used to climb trees and stuff in those long skirts.

  13. I would love it if you did a video on American fashion of the 1800's. Everyone talks about these time periods in terms of British monarchy, all I have to go on for American fashion is Scarlett O'Hara and Westworld, which takes place in the future. How did it differ from England, and how did it differ between the North, South and West? I also always wonder what people wore in their homes. I know as soon as I get home I immediately take off all of my uncomfortable appropriate clothes and put on things that I would never wear outside, or intentionally be photographed in. Do historians know what people wore when no one but their families could see them?

  14. I didn't realise the fabric patterns were so specific in 1840… I made a blue plaid 1840's fanfront dress at one point, but that may not have really been as accurate as it seemed…

  15. ุฃูˆุชู€ุดู€ูŠู€ู€ู‡ู€ุง ุณู€ุงุณู€ูƒู€ูŠ says:

    First: we were without clothes
    2nd: we became decent and non-naked
    and Now the whole world has become naked

    The world is in danger !!!!!

  16. Ok but this was actually really helpful for my art history class. Whenever I couldnโ€˜t identify the exact decade the painting was made, I just looked at the ladiesโ€˜ dresses and made a decision based on that.
    Obviously not always helpful (what the fuck, historicism?!) but it certainly made a good impression on my teacher and classmates ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Would you mind doing a video like this about 18th century fashion? I really like this format. It is very easy to understand.

  18. This is an incredible well made video and you are freaking talented. Thatโ€™s impressive. Wow. Just wow. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š iโ€™m italian and iโ€™m literally obsessed by your videos!!! ๐Ÿ˜

  19. I love most late 19th century fashion starting from late 1960 to 1900 till edwardian era even it's already 20th century!

  20. This is my absolute favorite video of yours. The visuals of how they changed through the years is amazing! And seeing which era idealized which part of the body is so interesting! Thank you so much for all the work and effort that went into this! I hope you do another one again for a different century!! ๐Ÿค—

  21. I enjoyed this video so much, watching you draw your clever images relaxed me. I want to draw like you. Your drawings definitely told the story of womens fashions through the decades! This would make a lovely coffee table book. Thank you.

  22. I love how accurate your videos are and how much effort you put into them (the drawings are absolutely awesome! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘)
    Wonderful how you live your passion, teach others about it and explain it to all other history lovers better than any history teacher! Greetings from Germany ๐Ÿ‘‹โค๏ธ

  23. One thing that I've been wondering for a while but haven't seen you discuss (may have missed it) is: Did fashion shifts begin to speed up as we moved closer toward modernity, or has fashion always shifted as frequently and we just have less evidence for it. And how far back does regular shifting fashions go?

  24. Very, very interesting! Quick but seemed very comprehensive. I wonder how these fashions are reflected depending I what country you are referring to, as some countries are sort of leading fashion trends then others, and some places keep older styles longer…. Then of course the video would be totally crazy and very long so I guess not but it would have been nice. A little tiny nit pick in a very good video. Thanks!

  25. "devel up" sounds like "develope." So just imagine: "Damn son, crinolines were devel'd up in the 1840s to hold dresses wide!"

  26. Iโ€™d like to see a video about what influenced different fashions , more of like a theoretical view on it

  27. What I thought was interesting was that when both the hoop skirt and pantyhose were invented (and mass produced) in the 60s women rebelled against the new fashion. The down side of crinoline was the wearing multiple petticoats and the downside of miniskirts were garters showing unless wearing opaque tights. Women of the 1860s and 1960s were rebels.

  28. This video went from Pride and Prejudice to Anne of Green Gables! ๐Ÿ‘ Also this drawing technique was the perfect๐Ÿ‘Œ way to illustrate the changing fashions (karoline: hah get it).

  29. I love how the Regency era hairstyles were their own version of 'vintage' ๐Ÿคฃ

    18th Century Youtuber: Recreating classical hairstyle – seen on REAL ROMAN STATUE

  30. Fun videoโ€”thanks! Is this mostly English fashion? Iโ€™m wondering how much of it carries over to the USA or to France and Germany.

  31. Its interesting to hear about the fashion about these era's, cause theres soo much n they kinda blur all together. The other thing i kept thinking about was how many dry erase markers u went thru making ur video ๐Ÿ˜ฒ plz make more like this i really enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  32. I'd love if you talked about how class affected this and how people adapted to style changes. As I understand it, women didn't own many dresses, and altered them over buying new ones. But when styles changed a lot, did they buy new dresses, or did they alter old ones? Was this more everyday or evening? What was the closet like of someone back then? Also, I love and appreciate that you mentioned changes is stays and corsets. I'm always so interested in undergarments!

  33. Hello Karolina ! I loved this video ! Did poor women wear the same kind of outfits ? If they did'nt could you make a video about that ? It would be really nice ! (I have to do a roleplay character during 19th century (idk now the exact period) and I wanted to make her accurate)

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