Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Remember When . . . Styles Shifted?

As I dive into working on the first book in The Codebreakers, my story world advances a couple years, to 1917. And as I build my Pinterest board, I end up looking at a lot of fashion. So naturally, you get to take a tour with me through WWI styles. =)

As always, the military styles of the day impacted not only men's fashion, but women's. This, for instance, is the first introduction of the trench coat, and it had begun to edge its way into even ladies' suits.
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

But of course, war isn't only about new cuts and belts and lengths of jackets. The hard reality of war is that it results in shortages--and this is what ultimately led to higher hems and less extravagant styles in the late 1910s. Over the course of a few years, dresses went from this... this...

Note that the overall profiles became more slender, with skirts that are less full and shorter. It was in the late teens that floor-length really started becoming a thing of the past. Even much evening wear became ankle length or above.

Pre-war, 1911
During the war, 1916

Hats underwent a pretty drastic change too. Where once they were huge and the-more-ostentatious-the-better...

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London. a generally smaller and more conservative silhouette.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

And then there was the hair! While the majority of women were still wearing their hair long, the Marcel wave was frequently used on the sides before the length was pinned up... and in many fashion plates and photos of celebrities of the day, we also see a growing number of bobbed, waved styles.

My heroine in this first book is Margot, little sister of Lukas from A Song Unheard, and I posted on Facebook last week asking whether people thought she should get her hair cut. The result--people feel very strongly about hair! LOL. I had some very enthusiastic yeses, and some very horrified nos. ;-)

I won't tell you what I've decided. I'll just say that it's very in keeping with the character, and that I learned quite a bit about Margot as I debated the question. And I will tell you that the question comes up in the story because Brook from The Lost Heiress makes an appearance, and you KNOW she was the first lady of fashion in England to bob her hair! (And probably make an appearance in trousers at the same time...)

So what do you think of the changing styles of the late Teens? Do you like the new silhouettes on the dresses and jackets? The new hem length? What about the bobbed hair?


  1. Glad that's not the fashion now! All the sweating in the sweltering heat! No way! But, they are pretty.

  2. My Mother was born in 1917 in China. She was a missionary kid. She had long hair but had it bobbed when she was about 5..... because her hair caught on fire ( too close to the fireplace) and her brother grabbed a rug and rolled her in it.

  3. I love historical fashion and as a seamstress, I get ever more passionate about it. I am a romantic at heart though and the fashion of the 20's makes me groan. I hate the shapeless styles and baggy looking dresses. LOL! That's just for me personally as I would much rather wear the styles of the 10's. :D So excited for these books!

  4. What a fun post! It is interesting to see how the styles changed during the war. I'll look forward to this next story!