Home » History of American Women’s Fashion

History of American Women’s Fashion

In 2010, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City ran an exhibition called, “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.” It explored developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they affected the way American women are seen today. Focusing on American femininity through dress, the exhibition revealed how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. “Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” and “Screen Sirens,” among others, helped lay the foundation for today’s American woman. Here we take a look at a seven different styles that had a significant influence on the American women.

Putting on Airs

John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Nancy Astor in 1908 shows the archetype of American heiresses, a group that was depicted in the paintings of Sargent and the literature of Henry James and whose fashion preferences were usually over the top.

The Sporting Life

The Gibson Girl, as drawn by J. C. Leyendecker for Collier’s magazine in 1907, was the first ideal of American beauty to be depicted in the mass-market media. She represented the athleticism and physical independence of American women.

Marrying Well

Consuelo Vanderbilt, seen below in a 1906 portrait painted by Giovanni Boldini, married an English aristocrat and became the Duchess of Marlborough. Wealthy Americans who married titled European men were known as “penny princesses.”

Grand Gestures

An elaborately embroidered blue silk satin ball gown by the French couturier Jean Philippe Worth was the kind of grand costume favored by American heiresses at the turn of the century.

Artistic License

Rita Lydig, photographed below by Edward Steichen in 1905, was a lady who favored the loose lace tunics by Callot Soeurs. She represented the bohemian archetype: women who used art and artistic practices to express their intellectual freedom.

Girl About Town

Louise Brooks, below, the archetypical American flapper, was photographed by Eugene Robert Richee in 1928. Her slim figure and short bob expressed the footloose freedom of her generation.

Screen Gems

These five evening dresses from the 1930s and ’40s, by designers like Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin and Madame Gres, are as modern as any red-carpet gowns you will see today.

More Fashion Fabula

The History of Hunter Boots

With the weather finally, slowly starting to heat up and April showers nearly upon us – what better time to take you on a guided

Tom Ford’s Private Blend

Care for a hint of tobacco? How about a whiff of black suede? If a taste for exotic aromas suits your style, then Tom Ford’s

12 Chic Luggage Ideas

Between the steady out-of-office away messages and evermore-frequent exotic vacay posts on social media, it seems like everyone is taking a summer vacation. And whether

SXSW: Style Guide

South by Southwest is officially kicking off this week, and if you’re headed to Austin this week, you have one supreme goal: to have as

Origins of the Overcoat

As with many contemporary staples, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the overcoat first emerged. Several online accounts name 1772 as the year the overcoat

The History of Derby Fashion

Each year, the race draws locals, out-of-towners, celebrities and royalty alike. While most think the competition is on the track, those in the know would

Best Street Fashion: Oakland

Just a hop over the bay from San Francisco sits Oakland, a multi-cultural hotspot for fashion firsts and trendsetters, specifically the area around Lake Merritt.

Weekend Closet: Military Madness!

Free People – Distressed cotton backpack with rugged leather detailing and adjustable canvas straps. Santa Cruz Backpack, $125 Nordstrom – A metallic panel and barely

10 Best Lipsticks for Fall

As much as we love seeing bold experimental makeup on the runway, we really appreciate when a beauty look is something that’s easy to recreate

5 Summer Tops You Can Wear to Work

5/16/2016 Dress codes for work are already challenging enough and with rising temperatures it may seem almost impossible to dress appropriate. While in the colder

How to Dress Vintage

Vintage hunting can be just as intimidating as it is rewarding. Aside from the self-curating aspect, the experience is not that much different from your

Latest Fashion Coupons

There are no coupons currently available

Fashion Brands

Login

Use a social network:

Or:

Feedback/Suggest Brands

Again, welcome to Your Brandzaffair. Our goal is to be your daily source for immediate access to all your favorite brandz with their best offers, in addition to providing insights and reviews in your lifestyle interests. We want to always continue to improve your experience. Please tell us what you think and what we can do better.

Spread the Word