Throughout human history, technology has been a vital factor in the production of dresses. From needles to hand sewing to high-tech manufacturing, technology has been key in shaping the fashion of the modern world. This book explores how dress and technology have been linked from prehistory to the present, using case studies from a variety of cultures and periods. It provides a scholarly and comprehensive examination of the role of technology in shaping dress and will serve as an important resource for students of history of dress and anthropology.
Dress is a garment composed of a skirt with an attached bodice. It can vary in shape and color, but it usually features sleeves and straps. It can be used for a formal event or more casual attire. In some cultures, dress is worn to protect and enhance an individual’s beauty. It can also be used as a way to communicate an individual’s identity to others. There is no fixed definition of beauty and the meaning of modesty varies from culture to culture.
Although technology has influenced fashion and helped define fashion in the modern world, the history of dress is largely a matter of human hands and imagination. In the 19th century, several artistic groups looked to the past for inspiration in creating beautiful dresses. These include the Aesthetic Movement, which was inspired by Renaissance themes, and the Rational Dress Society, which opposed constrictive mainstream fashion for women. Both of these movements advocated for looser, more natural styles.
Aesthetic dresses were made of earth tones and featured loosely fit waists and puffed sleeves. These dresses were often worn without corsets. The Aesthetic movement was largely an artistic reaction against the industrialization of society in the late nineteenth century. Kate Greenaway, an illustrator of the movement, illustrated several children’s books in loose dresses.
The Rational Dress Society, founded in 1881, was a movement against constrictive mainstream fashion for women. It was not accepted into mainstream society and its ideas had an outsized presence in the 1880s dress debates. This movement argued that mainstream fashions were unhealthful and restricted women’s bodies.
The princess line was introduced in the 1880s, a silhouette that created a body hugging silhouette. Princess line dresses were made with vertical seams that molded to the shape of the body. This caused some artistic reformers to protest. Earlier versions of the princess line had been in use by the nineteenth century.
In the 1880s, dresses often featured pleated skirts and a wide sash worn low between the hips and knees. The sash was tied in a pronounced bow at the back. This echoed the bustles of adult fashions. It also prompted some people to question the healthfulness of cumbersome fashions for young girls.
The Aesthetic movement also had an outsized presence in the 1880s. Oscar Wilde was a member of this movement and his aesthetic style was regularly noted in the media. His radical costume designs were copied cartoonishly in the press.