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A Fashionable Journey through the 1910s

CEO Tinh Phung
Image: Wikimedia Commons "What does 1910s fashion look like?" I found myself typing into Google last weekend, searching for inspiration. While I was well-versed in 1980s and 1960s fashion, and even had an idea about...

1910s fashion example Image: Wikimedia Commons

"What does 1910s fashion look like?" I found myself typing into Google last weekend, searching for inspiration. While I was well-versed in 1980s and 1960s fashion, and even had an idea about the 1930s, the 1910s remained a mystery to me. However, a quick search on Google images quickly reminded me of the elegant clothing seen on shows like Downton Abbey and Titanic.

But as I delved deeper into my search, I soon realized that there was much more to 1910s fashion than I initially thought. This decade was a battleground for different styles, with influences from both the preceding and succeeding eras, as well as the impact of the literal war that was taking place at the time.

The 1910s marked a period of transition, bridging the gap between the strict Edwardian styles of the 1900s and the more liberated and carefree dresses of the 1920s. Each decade, when examined individually, carries traces of the era that came before and the era to come, and the 1910s were no exception.

A Glimpse into 1910s Fashion

Early 1910s fashion still retained many of the Edwardian styles, but as the years went on, the fashion industry saw a shift towards more relaxed and fluid designs. This transformation was driven by influential designers like Paul Poiret and later, Coco Chanel. They reimagined women's fashion, making it more comfortable and versatile than ever before.

The uncomfortable bustles and corsets of the 1900s were abandoned in the early 1910s, although the brief trend of the hobble skirt, which severely limited movement, did emerge. However, designers quickly made up for it with the introduction of the empire waist dress, which became incredibly popular, especially for evening wear. As the decade progressed, women's skirts became more relaxed, inching up to scandalous ankle heights during the war period. Dance corsets, which allowed for greater movement, were introduced, followed by the invention of the first modern bra in 1914. Safe and non-toxic mascara was also created during this time, revolutionizing the cosmetics industry for women.

The 1910s also saw women embracing trousers and overalls while working, particularly in factories and farms. These garments provided a comfortable range of motion and enhanced safety measures, preventing fabric from catching on machinery.

During World War I, women's fashion took on a militaristic style, with sharp jackets and shorter flared skirts, often referred to as "war crinolines." For those not involved in the workforce, Chanel's jersey suits and loose, belted dresses were all the rage. After the war, the desire for comfort and freedom in clothing continued, giving birth to drop-waist silhouettes that would later evolve into the iconic flapper dresses of the 1920s.

Outfit Inspiration from the 1910s

While the fashion of the 1910s may appear stuffy from a modern perspective, it was undeniably beautiful. If you're interested in incorporating elements of this era into your own style, here are three outfits inspired by the '10s:

Outfit #1: Army for the Land

Outfit inspired by 1910s fashion: Overalls, button-up, earrings, and shoes.

Products: Overalls - Old Navy, Blouse - American Eagle, Earrings - Target, Shoes - Forever 21

During the Great War, women played an active role in maintaining farms as Land Girls. This outfit draws inspiration from their practical yet feminine style. The overalls provide functionality, while the floral-patterned earrings add a touch of femininity. Pairing the ensemble with delicate flats creates a summery look.

Outfit #2: A Brand New Empire

Dress, heels, hat, mascara, and rouge.

Products: Dress - Dynamite Clothing, Hat - Forever 21, Shoes - Forever 21, Mascara - Ulta, Cream Rouge - Besame Cosmetics

The 1910s brought a much-needed change from the rigid beauty standards of previous decades. Embracing comfort, this dress features the classic empire waist with a modern twist - a sheer bottom. This versatile dress is perfect for summer classes or a night out. Complete the look with era-approved cosmetics, including mascara and cream rouge.

Outfit #3: Sister Suffragette

Jumpsuit, earrings, heels.

Products: Jumpsuit - Old Navy, Heels - Target, Clutch - Forever 21, Earrings - Modcloth

This outfit pays homage to the suffragettes, who fought tirelessly for women's right to vote. The jumpsuit, paired with slender heels reminiscent of the popular Louis heels of that era, reflects the empowering and enduring spirit of suffrage. The white color symbolizes the suffragettes' movement, while the quotation mark earrings represent the power of their voices.

Reflecting on 1910s Fashion

The fashion of the 1910s may not be the first choice for many, but it holds a unique charm. Will you incorporate elements of 1910s style into your look this year? Are there any 1910s fashion trends that you think I should have included? Share your thoughts and favorite '10s looks in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been completely updated and revamped with new photos and information in 2019.