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A Brief History of Women's Dresses

The history of women's dresses throughout the course of history is particularly interesting. For a start, did you realise, that dresses were not originally a fashion for women. In many cultures throughout history, and throughout the world, dresses have been worn by men; consider the Scottish kilt (although kilts are reported to be of Scandinavian heritage), or the toga worn by the ancient Greeks, to understand this fact. Interesting facts aside, here, we will consider the history of women's dresses during the early stages of the 20th century, concentrating particularly on Western history.

For fashionable women, understanding a little of the history of dresses goes a long way for informing a sense of style. The reason for this is down to current fashion trends, which consistently take from previous fashions to create new trends. By understanding the past, it is possible to incorporate the best the past has on offer into your own sense of contemporary style, and create a unique style that is avant-garde in its approach to fashion. A true fashionista knows how to take influences from previous fashions to create elegance that is truly unique.

During the rather demure times of the early 1920s, it was common to see masculine styles of dress, with strong angles, made from sturdy materials, but this changed dramatically as we moved into the 1930s. The 30s heralded a return to the feminine ideal, with a change of hemline and cut, this was a frugal age, and was reflected in the attire of the times, with very little disposable income, families were required to 'make do and mend'.

Literally, if clothes were damaged, they were then mended; this gave rise to some very unusual, but innovative designs, when new clothes were fashioned from the odds and ends of old clothes. Dresses tended to be extremely slimming and well fitted, the reason for this was a lack of materials from which to work, where dressmakers were required to fashion women's dresses out of less material, because of this, we saw the hemlines rise a good few inches, and clothes tailored for a close fit. These dresses were extremely stylish and elegant.

During the 1930s and 1940s, we saw a cultural shift in attitudes towards women, who were slowly becoming liberated within society - with the women's movement, arrived a significant shift in fashion, which moved towards more revealing creations. Women's dresses were fashioned with lower backs, revealing the upper portions of the buttocks, and waists were tucked in, women's bodies became the focal point of their outfits, whereas in the past, fashion strived to conceal the female form.

The war years, and the post war years, brought further poverty and lack of provisions, again, hemlines were taken up to save money and time. This trend gave rise to the 1960s and the invention of the mini-skirt, the shortest style of dress to date.

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