Fashion Flashback: Exploring the Stylish Trends of the 1890s

Fashion Flashback: Exploring the Stylish Trends of the 1890s

When we think of fashion in the 1890s, images of corsets, hoop skirts, and top hats often come to mind. This decade was a time of great change in the world of fashion, with new styles and trends emerging that would shape the way people dressed for years to come. From the elegant and elaborate fashions of the upper class to the more practical and functional clothing of the working class, the 1890s had something for everyone.

The Silhouette

One of the defining features of fashion in the 1890s was the hourglass silhouette. This was achieved through the use of corsets, which were tightly laced to cinch in the waist and create a curvy shape. Women’s dresses featured high necklines, puffed sleeves, and long, sweeping skirts that accentuated the waist and hips. Men’s fashion also emphasized a slim, tailored silhouette, with fitted jackets and trousers that hugged the body.

Women’s Fashion

During the 1890s, women’s fashion was heavily influenced by the Aesthetic and Art Nouveau movements. This resulted in clothing that featured intricate detailing, elaborate embroidery, and rich fabrics such as silk, velvet, and satin. Corsets were worn by women of all social classes, and were often decorated with lace, ribbons, and bows.

For daytime wear, women typically wore long, high-necked dresses with puffed sleeves and fitted bodices. These dresses were often accessorized with gloves, parasols, and elaborate hats decorated with feathers, flowers, and ribbons. In the evening, women wore even more elaborate gowns made of luxurious fabrics and embellished with beads, sequins, and jewels.

Men’s Fashion

Men’s fashion in the 1890s was characterized by a more subdued and understated look. Business attire consisted of fitted jackets, waistcoats, and trousers in dark, sober colors such as black, navy, and charcoal. Shirts were typically white or light in color, and ties were narrow and conservative in style.

For more formal occasions, men wore tailcoats or frock coats with matching trousers. These outfits were often accessorized with a top hat, gloves, and a pocket watch. In the evening, men wore tuxedos or evening suits made of black or dark blue wool with satin lapels and stripes.

Working Class Fashion

While the upper classes indulged in elaborate and luxurious fashions, the working class had a more practical approach to clothing. Women typically wore simple, high-necked dresses made of durable cotton or wool fabrics. These dresses were often accessorized with aprons, shawls, and bonnets for practicality and modesty.

Men in the working class wore trousers, shirts, and waistcoats made of sturdy fabrics such as wool or tweed. They also wore jackets and coats for added warmth and protection. Workers often wore caps or felt hats to protect their heads while on the job.


Footwear in the 1890s was diverse and varied, with different styles for different occasions. Women typically wore high-buttoned boots or pumps with sturdy heels for everyday wear, while men wore leather oxfords or brogues. For more formal occasions, women wore delicate satin or velvet slippers, while men wore patent leather shoes with pointed toes.


Accessories played a crucial role in completing an outfit in the 1890s. Women wore gloves, parasols, fans, and handbags to add flair to their ensembles. They also wore elaborate jewelry such as chokers, brooches, and earrings to accessorize their dresses. Men wore pocket watches, cufflinks, and tie pins to add a touch of elegance to their suits.

Hairstyles and Beauty

Hairstyles in the 1890s were elaborate and intricate, with women often wearing their hair in intricate updos, curls, and braids. Long hair was considered the epitome of femininity, and many women grew their hair out to achieve the desired look. Men typically wore their hair short and neatly groomed, with side parts and neatly trimmed beards or mustaches.

Beauty standards in the 1890s were influenced by the Victorian ideals of modesty and elegance. Pale skin, rosy cheeks, and red lips were considered desirable traits, and women used cosmetics such as powders, rouges, and lip tints to achieve these looks.

Influential Designers

Several influential designers emerged during the 1890s, shaping the direction of fashion for years to come. Charles Frederick Worth, often considered the father of haute couture, revolutionized the industry with his elaborate and luxurious designs. Jeanne Lanvin, a talented milliner, established her own fashion house in Paris and became known for her elegant and innovative creations.

Other notable designers of the decade included Jacques Doucet, who specialized in luxurious evening gowns, and Liberty & Co., a London-based department store that popularized the Arts and Crafts movement in fashion. These designers and their creations helped to define the style and aesthetic of the 1890s.

In Conclusion

The 1890s were a decade of significant change and innovation in the world of fashion. From the elaborate and luxurious designs of the upper class to the practical and functional clothing of the working class, this decade had something for everyone. The hourglass silhouette, intricate detailing, and rich fabrics of the era continue to influence fashion trends to this day. By exploring the stylish trends of the 1890s, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the history and evolution of fashion.

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