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Paula Howe


In the 1870's skirts had narrowed, and long trains hadbecome popular. The dress of the 1880's had a tight fitting, deeply pointedbodice and a bustle. Around 1900, women adopted the "hourglass". The "flapper" style of the 1920's stressed simple lines and shortskirts. The shift popular during the 1960's had loose fitting lines.

Today, fashion is far more widespread than ever before. Clothing is produced of mass quantities and people learn about it throughnew means of rapid communication. More people can afford new clothing. The clothes of today reflect industrial and social progress as well aseconomic conditions. Fashion has become an important industry and it'spowerful influence extends to the people who design, manufacture, and buyclothing.

Throughout history, most fashions were a symbol of belongingto a privileged social group. By imitating the dress of this privilegedgroup, a person attempts to disassociate himself from his own social class,and identify himself with a higher social class. Today's trend is towardsimplification and tends to wipe out the class distinction that characterizedfashion in ancient and medieval time.

Most people feel that fashions of earlier periods changedless frequently than styles do today. A style generally goes through aseries of "compromise" stages in the period between the rejectionof an old fashion and the acceptance of a radically different one.

An example of a "compromise" style of dress thathas remained popular over a long period of time is the "classical"shirtwaist dress.

Some people interpret fashion change as desire for personalexpression, or merely a desire for change. But others interpret this changeas a symbol of freedom from conformity. To be "in style" - toconform is generally stronger than the desire to be obviously different.

The two World Wars brought great numbers of women to greaterfreedoms in dress. More women went into business and they adopted dressesthat were simple and easy to maintain. During World War II, shorts andslacks became common because they permitted free movement and were saferto wear near machinery.

ere saferto wear near machinery.