Women's Evening Clothes in 1899

Written by linda harris
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Women's Evening Clothes in 1899
Lace was a popular material for evening dresses in the late 1800s. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Women's fashion became more relaxed toward the end of the 19th century. An increasing number of women began working during the Industrial Revolution, meaning that daywear had to be practical and functional. In the case of working-class women, eveningwear consisted of adding jewellery and a shawl to be dressed up. For members of the high society, however, there was still a rigid dress code in place for social outings, although shapes became softer and more suited to a woman's natural curves.

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Toward the end of the 19th century, women's silhouettes became less exaggerated. Skirts were not as full as they had been in previous decades, nor were they crinoline. Skirts would gather tightly around the waist and would then fall over the hips in an A-line shape, and they were full length; ankle-length skirts didn't appear until the 20th century. Tight corsets were still very much in use, although they were a little less restrictive. Sleeves became hugely puffy in the 19th century; they decreased in size by the late 1890s, but it was fashionable to have small puffs on the shoulders rather than billowing sleeves.


While eveningwear was still very elaborate -- featuring décolletage, wasplike waists and skirts with trains -- the acceptability of women participating in sports meant that women's clothing generally became more relaxed. Uncorseted "tea gowns," which were previously only worn around the house, became acceptable for social occasions.


Where bonnets were once the height of fashion, from the 1890s on they were worn exclusively by elderly ladies. They were replaced by wide-brimmed hats and were worn high on the head, adding height. Feathers, flowers and even birds made from fabric were used as adornments.


Gloves were a very important part of a woman's outfit for the evening. These were made from kid leather and reached the elbow. Jewellery such as brooches and earrings were worn as standard but were smaller than they had been in previous decades. Small evening bags were hung from the waist with a decorative belt.

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