As the Victorian era wound down with the close of the 19th Century, fashions began to change. Most modern-day observers would think the clothing of 1895 was extremely formal and uncomfortable and they would be right; women still wore corsets, after all. By Victorian standards, though, the fashions of 1895 were more freeing than what had come before.
Women still wore elaborate gowns for dressy social occasions in 1895. But when it came to daily wear, an important innovation had come along in the early 1890s in the form of the woman's blouse. By 1895, designers created suits for women consisting of a full-length skirt, a crop or bolero-length short jacket and a white crisp blouse underneath. These separates afforded more comfort than many gowns. The skirts were more comfortable as well, as the hard bustle in back had gone out of style by 1895, replaced by pleats.
Mutton sleeves caught on in the 1890s and by 1895 these sleeves were at their puffy peak in height. Mutton sleeves, or leg of mutton sleeves, got their name due to the fact that they were shaped like mutton chops on the bone, extremely wide and puffy at the top, and narrowing to be tight below the elbow. Women wore mutton sleeves in their dresses and jackets, and in 1895 blouses began to have them as well, allowing women to wear blouses without jackets for sports or outdoor gatherings.
Men's clothes were relaxed as well in 1895, by Victorian standards. Formal, dark suits were made more casual as lighter-colored pants came into style, such as brown or gray. Patterns too, such as stripes or houndstooth, were popular with men's pants. Men wore these pants with dark jackets for more casual social situations such as a picnic. Vests, or waistcoats as they were known, also got more relaxed in 1895. They had been cut quite high on the chest, but were now cut lower on the stomach, offering more room for activities like the new craze of bicycling.
Hats and Accessories
Social situations of all kinds still called for hats to be worn by both men and women. Men wore straw hats or bowlers during the day and top hats for formal outings in the evening. Women's hats ranged from small, forward-sitting hats featuring floral arrangements, to giant-brimmed hats done up with ribbons and bows. Men and women both also wore white gloves for many social situations; women especially nearly always wore gloves in public. Men wore pocket watches on chains and women carried lovely parasols to fight off the elements.
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