September is a month for fashion weeks around the world, when models walk the runway wearing designs for the upcoming seasons. Magazine editors, designers, fashionistas and more look to the catwalk to see the newest trends. One of the ways 19th-century consumers learned about the latest in fashion was through advertisements produced by pattern, dressmaking, and tailoring companies.
Take a look at these fall fashions from the 1880s and 1890s from our Popular Graphic Arts Collection. In the first image, women are assured they can even wear these dresses on a bicycle ride!
Young girls are dressed to match their adult counterparts in this image from 1889.
The gathers and bustles on the backs of these dresses are featured here, with many ladies in the illustration turned in profile or facing away from us.
The men were not left out of the scene, of course. While a bit less colorful than the women’s fashions, they also had the chance to choose patterns, fabrics and styles from such ads as this one from 1891.
Showing these men in suits and overcoats in the context of what appears to be a train station plants the idea that you will look quite dapper during your commute to the office in these choices. (See comments – this turns out to be one of the original New York Stock Exchange buildings!)
Advertisements like the above give interesting insight into not only fashion of a particular time period, but also how consumers would learn of it, and join the latest fashion trends!
- See dozens more images of fall fashion from the mid-19th century into the early 20th century. The other seasons are not left out! Enjoy a few hundred prints of fashion for every season through this portion of the Popular Graphic Arts collection.
- Revisit two previous Picture This posts that touched on our photographic holdings related to fashion:
- Learn about resources at the Library of Congress to study the history of fashion through these two research guides: Fashion Industry: A Resource Guide and Clothing, Costume, and Fashion: A Guide to Resources.