The history of western fashion is the evolution of men’s and women’s clothing in Western Europe and other regions influenced in the period 1500 to the present. For our purposes, today’s four major fashion centers—New York, London, Milan, and Paris—are considered Western fashion traditions, extending from classical Greece. Since those carefully placed fig leaves, a lot has changed. Clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, and hairstyles are just a few examples of how fashion is a popular aesthetic expression at a particular time. What fascinates curious minds is the tweaking-turning evolution of the same. Here’s a quick overview of the history of western fashion in the fashion industry.
History of Western Fashion by period
- In 1500-1600
Extremely thick, large, and voluminous clothing was worn in numerous layers during this fashion era. It became common to see contrasting textiles, slashes, embroidery, applied trimmings, and other surface ornaments. The wide silhouette, conical for women with breadth at the hips and broadly square for men with width at the shoulders, replaced the tall, narrow lines of the late Middle Ages. Puffed, slashed, cuffed sleeves were the center of attention. Men’s clothes during this time included a linen shirt or chemise, a doublet with matching sleeves, a jerkin, and a hose. Typically, women wore a loose-fitting gown over a kirtle or petticoat as their outerwear (or both). A short jacket or a doublet cut with a high neckline were options for the gown.
- In 1600-1700
Up until about 1615, the silhouette was mostly close to the body with short sleeves and a low, pointed waist. It then began to soften and broaden. As sleeves grew in size, they were frequently paned or slashed in the 1620s and 1630s to reveal the voluminous sleeves of the shirt or chemise beneath. The removal of the ruff in favor of large lace or linen collars in Western European clothing during the era 1600–1650 might be seen as a defining feature of this style. Throughout the period, both men’s and women’s waistlines increased. Two more prominent trends were full, slashed sleeves and tall or broad hats with brims. Hose was replaced by breeches for males. Rapid change is a defining feature of 1650–1700 fashion in Western European clothes. Baroque is the name of this era’s fashion. The previous era’s broad, high-waisted silhouette was replaced by a long, lean line with a low waist for both men and women according to the normal cycle of fashion.
- In 1700-1800
In addition to monarchy and aristocrats, the middle and even lower classes were also impacted by the new fashion styles that were introduced during this period, which had a wider impact on society. Soft colors, light, airy, asymmetrical designs, and playful styles may be found in this era’s clothing. For men and women of substance, wigs remained a necessity; they were frequently white, and natural hair was powdered to achieve the fashion look. During this time, there was a distinction drawn between undress or daily, daytime clothing and the full dress worn at court and for formal occasions. Full dress was required for fewer and fewer events as the decades went on, and by the end of the century, it had all but disappeared.
- In 1800-1900
In the 1820s, fashionable women’s clothing styles in European and European-influenced nations moved away from the classically influenced “Empire” and “Regency” styles and re-adopted features that had characterized much of the 18th century (and would go on to characterize the rest of the 19th century), such as full skirts and visible corseting of the natural waist. Similar changes occurred in the men’s fashion silhouette: by the middle of the 1820s, coats had large shoulders with puffed sleeves, a thin waist, and voluminous skirts. Breeches remained to be worn in the country and at court while trousers were worn for dressy daytime attire. The expansion in the width of women’s skirts supported by crinolines or hoops, the mass manufacture of sewing machines, and the start of dress reform are what define 1850s fashion in Western and Western-influenced clothes. Male fashion started coming increasingly from London, while female fashion came nearly solely from Paris. Long, beautiful lines, tall collars, and the emergence of sportswear are characteristics of 1890s fashion in European and countries with a European influence.
- In 1900-1990
The strict, long, and elegant lines of the late 1890s continued in Western fashion during the years 1900 to 1909. The era is characterized by tall, stiff collars, broad women’s hats, and full “Gibson Girl” hairstyles. Many men wore conservatively colored, loose suits with short ties in the early 1950s. Men’s outfits grew more textured, colorful, and casual as the decade went on. Men frequently wore colored shirts with matching pants and lightweight sports coats for relaxation. Western jeans fit the more modern, leaner shape of the 1950s pants for women. They weren’t as skin-tight as many modern 1950s pinup jeans. Instead, they followed the body’s natural curves by beginning at the high waist, extending fully past the hips, and tapering down the leg into a roll cuff. Many were sold with matching plaid shirts and were lined with plaid flannel. The decade’s fashion trends also recycled styles from earlier eras, particularly the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
- In 1990-2000
In contrast to the more ornate and flashy trends of the 1980s, the 1990s saw a return to minimalism fashion, which helped to define the decade’s fashion. The widespread acceptance of tattoos, body piercings other than ear piercings, and, to a much lesser extent, other types of body modification like branding, was one major change. In 1994 there was a drop in grunge fashion as it shifted toward more feminine and form-fitting styles. Young women in the UK and the US wore animal prints, short skirts and dresses, baby doll dresses, skater dresses, high-waisted ankle-length jeans (also known as mom jeans), plain or pleated pants, fitted skirts, and trouser suits, short and long skirts, high heels. The casual chic look, which featured T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, and sneakers, became popular as a result of the anti-conformist approach to fashion and continued into the 2000s. Around 2000, there was a monochromatic futuristic trend in clothing, with metallics, shiny blacks, a lot of greys, straps, and buckles becoming commonplace.
- In 2000-2010
The 2000s saw a global mash-up in fashion, with trends combining vintage looks with global and ethnic clothes (like boho) and the fashion of several music-based subcultures. In general, young people of both sexes preferred hip-hop fashion, which was later followed by the indie style with its retro influences. Women’s fashion during the middle of the 2000s included embroidered low-rise jeans, yoga pants, thong underwear, cowl-neck tops, tube tops, denim jackets, bell-sleeved shirts, jean shorts, crop tops, whale tails, tracksuits, cargo pants, capri pants, trench coats, puffy jackets, and longer tank tops worn under a main blouse or shirt. Despite their kitschy connotations, Crocs were a brief fad for both sexes in the summer of 2006, and the minidress made a comeback with exceptionally short hemlines. In the summer of 2007, Young British and American women were introduced to Bollywood movies and Shakira’s belly dance, which revived interest in ethnic clothing from India and the Middle East, including harem pants, embroidered Kurtis, and silk sashes, sarongs, gypsy tops, and the saree.
- In 2010-2020
The 2010s were characterized by hipster fashion, athleisure, a revival of alternative and austerity-era period pieces, swag-inspired clothes, neon streetwear in the 1980s, and unisex 1990s-style components influenced by skater and grunge trends. Later in the decade, social media influencers who are paid to promote fast fashion brands on Pinterest and Instagram began to take on more significance in the western world. In particular, acid wash skinny jeans, crew neck sweatshirts and leggings with geometric or galaxy prints, “trouser-dresses,” romper suits, preppy pastel-colored skinny jeans, metallic dresses, and capri pants cropped at the ankle continued to be popular in Europe, the United States, East Asia, Israel, and South America from 2010 to 2012. The midi skirt and the maxi skirt were the most popular skirt and dress styles, with the hemline standards. From 2013 to 2015, men’s fashion featured elements of hip-hop fashion, luxury fashion, sportswear, athleisure, and skater apparel. It was also highly affected by the improving economy and fashion-conscious cities like London, New York City, Paris, and Milan. Bright colors, studded belts, and retro-inspired graphic prints. In contrast to the 2010s, the 2020s had various fashion trends. They were heavily influenced by the fashion trends of the 1980s and 2000s. During this time, Adidas, Nike, Globe International, Vans, Kappa, Tommy Hilfiger, Asics, Ellesse, Ralph Lauren, Forever21, and The North Face were popular brands in the UK, the US, and Australia.
- In 2020-Present
The COVID-19 epidemic had an impact on fashion as well as other facets of life. Face mask usage became widespread and frequently required. Numerous mask designs immediately emerged as a result of the mask shortage, the human need for self-expression, and the speedy design and production of masks without specialized technology. Additionally, fashion was able to keep ahead of the changes thanks to its capacity to adjust to societal dynamics. As a result of these modifications, clothing that put comfort, style, and safety first started to appear. Both men and women preferred face masks together with more relaxed everyday clothing. This includes pajamas, nightgowns, athleisure, sneakers, and zoom t-shirts.
Younger British and American women gave up skinny jeans in favor of sweatpants, sweat suits, leggings, bike shorts, baggy shorts, mom jeans, high rise pants, overalls, pants with drawstring waists, zip-up denim jumpsuits with large pockets, boot cut pants, leggings, pink velour tracksuits, miniskirts, leather skirts, occasionally sheer ankle-length skirts, baggy pants, and culottes by the end of 2020. At the end of the 2010s, a small Japanese subculture called genderless fashion emerged. By 2021, it had become widely accepted, with fashion experts suggesting that the new androgynous look represents a new standard of male beauty
Western clothing has recently been more popular among individuals than traditional clothing. It is undoubtedly a good development because western clothing is cozier, easy to carry, and more suited to all body types.
Through creative expression, fashion design brings out the best in each individual’s style. Since its inception in 2002, KIFT Fashion College has experienced an illustrious journey and set a trend in the fashion era.