Culture and Fashion

Culture and Fashion

Late Victorian Era (1890-1901)

  • Culture in the late Victorian period was characterized by great change with scientific, political and social developments greatly resonating with the public.
  • Literature was a major part of Victorian culture with authors like Thomas Hardy and H. G. Wells capturing the social issues of their time.
  • The Aesthetic Movement, exemplified by artists like Oscar Wilde, celebrated beauty and ‘art for art’s sake’, rejecting the moral and political themes that dominated much of Victorian literature.
  • Fashion for women featured tight corsets, large-brimmed hats, and high-necked dresses. Bustles became less popular by the end of the period.
  • Men’s fashion highlighted the importance of social status, with wealthier men wearing morning coats or frock coats, while working-class men commonly wore simpler suits.

Edwardian Era (1901-1910)

  • The Edwardian era marked a distinct shift in British culture with advances in technology, social reforms, and the advent of women’s suffrage playing crucial roles.
  • This period saw the popularity of writers such as Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling, who explored themes of imperialism and societal pressure.
  • Wealthy Edwardians enjoyed leisure activities like horse racing, while the working class found entertainment in music halls and the newly invented cinema.
  • Edwardian fashion loosened, with women wearing flowing dresses and high waistlines, marking the end of the constrictive Victorian era. The “Gibson Girl” look—blouses and long skirts—was popular among young women.
  • Men’s fashion included the introduction of the lounge suit, a less formal alternative to the frock coat, reflecting a more relaxed social attitude.

Pre-War Period (1910-1914)

  • The years leading up to World War I saw a growing tension between the classes, along with the rise of socialism, trade unions, and the suffragette movement.
  • This period’s literature reflected this unrest, with writers like D.H. Lawrence and George Bernard Shaw examining class and romantic relationships.
  • The arts and crafts movement and the art nouveau style influenced design, while the Ballets Russes prompted a craze for Orientalism and exotic designs in fashion and the arts.
  • Fashion trends began to change rapidly with the introduction of the tunic dress, as well as shorter hemlines for women, and single-breasted jackets and trousers for men, which were much more practical for an increasingly active society.
  • The increasing popularity of sports and outdoor activities also influenced fashion, leading to the use of more practical fabrics and less cumbersome designs.