History of Fashion

The history of fashion began when Adam and Eve made the first skirts out of fig leaves, and mankind since then has not only been wearing clothes (for the most part), but has been struggling every day to figure out what to wear.

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The history of fashion started quite simply; in the ancient world, most people wore skirts and tunics. Egyptian and Greek women wore long flowing dresses or linen or lighter fabrics. The Egyptian women wore their hair short and placed wigs and headdresses on top, while men wore kilts and also wore wigs. As depicted in Egyptian art, both men and women lined their eyes and wore copious makeup.

The history of fashion moved to Greece and Rome with their emphasis on aesthetics and balance. White was a popular color, particular the white toga of the Romans with the purple stripe on the bottom to signify special status. Roman women wore elaborately weaved hair decorated with ivy and flowers. On special occasions, they wore gowns with golden threads or dresses in elaborate designs. But mainly, Greco-Roman clothes were quite understated.

The history of fashion in Medieval times was not so compelling. The emphasis was on the spiritual rather than the physical, and women wore long robes in dark colors and headdresses. Men wore tights and tunics, that is, if they were not wearing suits of armor.

The Enlightment saw a high point in the history of fashion as the 18th century brought extravagant clothing along with sumptuous, regal décor. High powdered wigs, velvet dresses, copious jewelry and beauty makeup set the tone. Men wore white stockings and elaborate jackets, and walking canes were more a fashion accessory than something to guide one’s steps.

After the French Revolution, the history of fashion took a turn toward simplicity. High-waisted Josephone dresses and simple hairstyles were characteristic of women’s fashions. Men kept the white socks and the knee pants, but gone were their wigs and powdered faces.

The 20th century introduced a more streamlined look, which is characteristic of the history of fashion since the post WWI era. The Flapper, with her blunt cut and knee length dresses was a far cry from her bustled and corseted counterpart just 30 years in the past. Today, necklines get lower and hemlines get higher, but more women are returning to a more modest look and classic, tailored clothing.

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