The History of Fashion and Design

From the time people first began to create clothing to cover their bodies, styles and fashions have continued to evolve. Sometimes fashion design relies solely on functionality to come up with an outfit; however, other times the ongoing atmosphere during the time period is the largest influence on designers and their creations. A consumer’s economic status, current pop culture interests, and even music preference can all play a role in the definition of style.

The evolution of fashion can be seen in everything from artwork to advertisements and magazines to costumes. Every decade had either an outfit or a critical accessory that men or women needed to have in order to be considered fashionable. The first designer to ever sew his own label into his fashion creations was Charles Frederick Worth. This simple act played a critical role in the advancement of the fashion industry as a whole.


As the 1900s were dawning, consumers moved away from their current fashion concepts. The royal courts were a source of inspiration as far as fashion and style for both men and women were concerned. During this time, clothing manufacturing offered items that were tailor made to a specific person as well as general items that were sold based on size for anyone to wear.


Just one dress would never do for most women during this time period. It was important to have something that could be worn at home to handle the tasks of the day and it wasn’t unusual to see several outfit changes a day for those that could afford the clothing. At the center of many of the fashions was the corset with the goal of creating an S-shaped silhouette.


As World War I came to an end, fashion took an interesting turn. Women exchanged the long dresses and corset with shorter shifts, in some cases with the hemline moved all the way up to the knee. Men chose to look more casual as women began to experiment with different looks. All of this was acceptable until the Great Depression. Instead of fashion coming with a sense of adventure, clothing became less of a statement and more of a necessity. More conservative fashion choices were made by both men and women as the ‘30s approached.


In the ‘40s, the world was recovering from the effects of World War II and fashion struggled with the changes made in Europe. For women, the idea of clothing that was ready to wear, not made specifically for one individual, began to gain popularity. It was here that sportswear began to be an option for any woman to consider.

During the 1950s, women went back to wearing dresses on a regular basis, adopting a style from the past. The idea of a tiny waist came back as did the full and flowing skirt. Europe no longer held the key to fashion as designers were spread out across the globe.

The 1960s brought a sense of adventure and ingenuity to the fashion industry. New styles were being tried and a hat, long held as every woman’s most important accessory, was nearly extinct. In this decade, the mini-skirt was born.

A transition took place in the ‘70s that dismissed some of the hippie styles seen in the decade before. The hemline headed south and in the midst of the disco era, bell-bottom jeans remained a staple in every woman’s closet.


Consumers started to become more interested in fashion as runway shows increased in popularity. Everyone began to look to see what items were being offered on the runway. With more people participating in aerobics, spandex began to hit the fashion scene while the jumpsuit was the outfit of choice for both men and women.

Casual is one of the best ways to describe the fashion of the 90s. It was acceptable to wear something because it was comfortable and functional instead of just being stylish. Nowhere was this more noticeable than the grunge look that took over in younger circles.


With consistent improvements in technology, it isn’t unusual for both men and women to have access to tons of information about current trends and styles. While style is continuing to move forward and, in some instances providing a futuristic appeal, many consumers are going back to vintage style with clothing that would have been popular from decades of the past. At this time, Europe is working to reassert itself as the center of fashion and style.