Western fashion history 1880s

Fashion in the 1880s in Western and Western-influenced countries is characterized by the return of the bustle. The long, lean line of the late 1870s was replaced by a full, curvy silhouette with gradually widening shoulders. Fashionable waists were low and tiny below a full, low bust supported by a corset. The Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881 in reaction to the extremes of fashionable corsetry.

Around 1880 there is already something to be seen about female emancipation; however, the woman is greatly restricted in her freedom of movement. The strict and tight suit gives the woman something untouchable. Between 1880 and 1890 there is a heavy economic pressure which makes cheaper materials use. In England, at the end of the 19th century, the arts and craft movement began in response to mass products: supporters wear loose and shapeless clothing. The movement is ridiculed, but later aspects of it are taken over.

After 1878 the high-closing women’s gown became very narrow and tight; the evening gowns are cut low. The very tight corset pushes the bosom up and the lower ribs inwards. Around 1883 the 2nd tour was created: a metal construction that protrudes horizontally from the waist. Often the (now somewhat shorter) skirt is draped. The hair is combed away from the face and put on, with a short or curled fringe. Furthermore, a small hat with ties under the chin; later the hats are worn larger and higher. The woman wears shoes and knot or bomber boots.

In dinners, the man wears the black tuxedo jacket with striped pants, white cardigan and black tie. On official occasions we wear a dress suit in the evening, but shorter jackets are becoming increasingly popular. You also wear straight jackets. The man wears shoes with heels and laces. The hair is short, with sideburns and mustache with curled points. In addition to the top hat, the man also wears the bowler hat, straw hat, gray felt hat and cap for sporting purposes. In this time, all sorts of new sports are popular, with matching clothing such as the tweed Norfolk jacket with spacious shorts for hunting, the cricket suit, colored and striped blazers for sailing, walking and cycling, and a shirt with rolled up sleeves. for sailing and fishing.

New fabrics and colors: In the Victorian era, the textile industry developed the first machine looms for simple fabrics, creating a wide range of fabrics. New are tweed and Jersey. The meandermotief is popular and Queen Victoria’s love for Scotland brings a fashion of colorful diamonds under way. The development of the aniline paints (1856) brought new colors to the market, such as purple, magenta, lyon blue and methyl green (1872), and strong red in 1878.

Women’s fashion

As in the previous decade, emphasis remained on the back of the skirt, with fullness gradually rising from behind the knees to just below the waist. The fullness in back was balanced by a fuller, lower chest, achieved by rigid corseting, creating an S-shaped silhouette, foreshadowing the more radical form of this shape that would become popular in the early 1900s. These gowns typically did not have a long train in the back, which was different from the gowns worn in the 1870s, and were extremely tight. They were known as the “hobble-skirt” due to the tightness of them. Winter gowns were made in darker hues whereas summer ones were made in lighter colors. Velvet was also a very popular fabric used during this period.

Skirts were looped, draped, or tied up in various ways, and worn over matching or contrasting colored underskirts. The polonaise was a revival style based on a fashion of the 1780s, with a fitted, cutaway overdress caught up and draped over an underskirt. Long, jacket-like fitted bodices called basques were also popular for clothing during the day.

Evening gowns were sleeveless and low-necked (except for matrons), and were worn with long over the elbow or shoulder length gloves of fine kidskin or suede.

Choker necklaces and jewelled collars were fashionable under the influence of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, who wore this fashion to disguise a scar on her neck.

The embroidery is very much present on the skirts on the coats.
The drape also remains very present.
The hats are gaining extravagance as pass the outfits of the day to finish with very wide brims and evening panache.
The skirts are cut flat and the bodices close at an angle.
The gloves that are worn all day are simple and up on the sleeve, often enhanced by a bracelet.
The watchis the accessory of the decade, it is everywhere on bracelets, at the end of a chain, on the handle of umbrellas, etc.

The early 1880s was a period of stylistic confusion. On one hand, there is the over-ornamented silhouette with contrasting texture and frivolous accessories. On the other hand, the growing popularity of tailoring gave rise to an alternative, severe style. Some credited the change in silhouette to the Victorian dress reform, which consisted of a few movements including the Aesthetic Costume Movement and the Rational Dress Movement in the mid-to-late Victorian Era advocating natural silhouette, lightweight underwear, and rejecting tightlacing. However, these movements did not gain widespread support. Others noted the growth in cycling and tennis as acceptable feminine pursuits that demanded a greater ease of movement in women’s clothing. Still others argued that the growing popularity of tailored semi-masculine suits was simply a fashionable style, and indicated neither advanced views nor the need for practical clothes. Nonetheless, the diversification in options and adoption of what was considered menswear at that time coincided with growing power and social status of women towards the late-Victorian period.

The bustle made a re-appearance in 1883, and it featured a further exaggerated horizontal protrusion at the back. Due to the additional fullness, drapery moved towards the sides or front panel of the skirt instead. Any drapery at the back was lifted up into poufs. Bodices on the other hand, shortened and ended above the hips. Yet the style remained tailored, but was more structured.

However, by 1886, the silhouette transformed back to a slimmer figure again. Sleeves of bodices were thinner and tighter, while necklines became higher again. Furthermore, an even further tailored-look began to develop until it improved in the 1890s.

The bustle returned to fashion and reached its greatest proportions c. 1886–1888, extending almost straight out from the back waist to support a profusion of drapery, frills, swags, and ribbons. The fashionable corset created a low, full bust with little separation of the breasts.

A usual type of undergarment was called combinations, a camisole with attached knee- or calf-length drawers, worn under the corset, bustle, and petticoat. Woolen combinations were recommended for health, especially when engaging in fashionable sports.

Riding habits had become a “uniform” of matching jacket and skirt worn with a high-collared shirt or chemisette, with a top hat and veil. They were worn without bustles, but the cut of the jacket followed the silhouette of the day.

In contrast, hunting costumes were far more fashionably styled, with draped ankle-length skirts worn with boots or gaiters.

Tailored costumes consisting of a long jacket and skirt were worn for travel or walking; these were worn with the bustle and a small hat or bonnet. Travelers wore long coats like dusters to protect their clothes from dirt, rain, and soot.

Aesthetic dress
Artistic or Aesthetic dress remained an undercurrent in Bohemian circles throughout the 1880s. In reaction to the heavy drapery and rigid corseting of mainstream Paris fashion, aesthetic dress focused on beautiful fabrics made up simply, sometimes loosely fitted or with a belt at the waist. Aesthetic ideas influenced the tea gown, a frothy confection increasingly worn in the home, even to receive visitors.

Hairstyles and headgear
Hair was usually pulled back at the sides and worn in a low knot or cluster of ringlets; later hair was swept up to the top of the head. Fringe or bangs remained fashionable throughout the decade, usually curled or frizzled over the forehead, often called “Josephine Curls.”

Bonnets resembled hats except for their ribbons tied under the chin; both had curvy brims. Sometimes people wore ribbons too.

Style gallery






1.Paris fashion, 1883–85.
2.The fashionable corseted figure of 1883. Hair is swept up to the top of the head, and the front hair is frizzled over the forehead.
3.Princess-line walking dress (left) and hunting costume (right) from La Mode Illustrée, 1880.
4.Summer dresses of 1882 show Aesthetic influence in the small-scale floral prints. The straw hat frames the fashionable frizzled hair.
5.Front and back views of a traveling coat, 1880–81

Men’s fashion
In men, it is the appearance of the tuxedo that revolutionizes fashion. While keeping a sober side see strict the costume.

Coats, jackets, and trousers
Three piece suits, “ditto suits”, consisting of a sack coat with matching waistcoat (U.S. vest) and trousers (called in the UK a “lounge suit”) continued as an informal alternative to the contrasting frock coat, waistcoat and trousers.

The cutaway morning coat was still worn for formal day occasions in Europe and major cities elsewhere, with a dress shirt and an ascot tie. The most formal evening dress remained a dark tail coat and trousers with a dark waistcoat. Evening wear was worn with a white bow tie and a shirt with a winged collar.

In mid-decade, a more relaxed formal coat appeared: the dinner jacket or tuxedo, which featured a shawl collar with silk or satin facings, and one or two buttons. Dinner jackets were appropriate when “dressing for dinner” at home or at a men’s club.

The Norfolk jacket was popular for shooting and rugged outdoor pursuits. It was made of sturdy tweed or similar fabric and featured paired box pleats over the chest and back, with a fabric belt.

Full-length trousers were worn for most occasions; tweed or woollen breeches were worn for hunting and other outdoor pursuits.

Knee-length topcoats, often with contrasting velvet or fur collars, and calf-length overcoats were worn in winter.

By the 1880s the majority of the working class, even shepherds adopted jackets and waistcoats in fustian and corduroy with corduroy trousers, giving up their smock frocks.

Shirts and neckties
Shirt collars were turned over or pressed into “wings”. Dress shirts had stiff fronts, sometimes decorated with shirt studs, and buttoned up the back.

The usual necktie was the four-in-hand and or the newly fashionable Ascot tie, made up as a neckband with wide wings attached and worn with a stickpin.

Narrow ribbon ties were tied in a bow, and white bowtie was correct with formal evening wear.

As in the 1870s, top hats remained a requirement for upper class formal wear; bowlers and soft felt hats in a variety of shapes were worn for more casual occasions, and flat straw boaters were worn for yachting and other nautical pastimes.

Shoes of the 1880s had higher heels and a narrow toe.

Style gallery






1.British traveler wears a grey frock coat and matching trousers with a grey top hat, 1880. The coat has two covered buttons at the back waist.
2.Hermann von Helmholtz wears a dark coat, waistcoat, and trousers with a stiff-fronted and stiff-collared shirt, German, 1881.
3.Theodor Mommsen wears a narrow necktie tied in a bow with his dark suit, German, 1881.
4.Composer Anton Rubenstein conducts in formal evening wear (dark coat, trousers, and waistcoat, white shirt and tie), 1887.
5.Engineer Adolphe Alphand wears a topcoat or overcoat with a velvet collar, 1887.

Children’s fashion
Young girls wore dresses with round collars and sashes. Fashionable dresses had dropped waists. Pinafores were worn for work and play. When going out, especially in the winter, girls wore lots of layers to keep warm. A warm coat was worn with kid leather gloves. Gloves were worn under a muff hand warmer, so when the girl removed her hands from the muff, her gloves would keep them warm. Just like ladies, all upper-class Victorian girls wore gloves when going out. A hat or bonnet was worn as well, along with long, knee-length button-up boots or shorter boots with gaitors to give the appearance of wearing long boots.

Older boys wore knee-length breeches and jackets with round-collared shirts.






Working clothes





1.Freeholders of Ruokolahti, Finland, 1882
2.Baseball pitcher Dan Casey, 1885
3.French reapers, 1886
4.Cowboy, 1888, South Dakota

Source from Wikipedia