February 3, 2023

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The evolution of fashion

The 21st century begins to remember garments created and forgotten throughout history

The way you dress is an important part of today’s western society. Although it has always determined the status or social class of a person, now it also determines the social group to which said person belongs within the same class. Although initially the dress began as a basic necessity that protected the evolved human being from the inclement weather, since he has had to replace the hair that he lost during evolution with the skins of other animals or other plant products, over time the dress has gradually acquired an aesthetic character, and has been subject to the canons of fashion and the needs of each era.

The clothing appears with the need of Homo Sapiens to protect themselves from the cold with the skins of the animals they hunted. In the Neolithic, man already knew how to spin and weave, but the clothing he wears still does not adapt to the body, although some already have ornamental drawings. In Egypt, linen is used to make clothing and these begin to be more elaborate. The basis of the Egyptian costume was the shenti, a piece of linen that was wrapped around the hips, fastened with a belt. Later, the Calasiris appeared, a luxurious garment consisting of a tight tunic. Women wore a long, tight-fitting tunic called a blouse, dyed in different colors depending on social status. Variations of these robes were worn in Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, and Rome in different colors and materials, from Syrian wool to Oriental silk.

The Germanic peoples were the ones who introduced the practice of sewing clothing and the combo of a short tunic, pants, and a tunic over the shoulders. In the Middle Ages, the most used material was wool, although linen was used for shirts and leggings (i.e., underwear). The men wore two tunics: a thin one made of thread and a longer one on top, made of wool, with narrow sleeves, and fitted with a belt. Underneath they wore breeches (the ancestor of pants) and wrapped themselves in a cape. The woman also wore two tunics, an inner one with narrow sleeves and an outer woolen one, long to the feet and with wide sleeves. She also could wear a cape and a veil that covered her head. In the Middle Ages the use of gloves and velvet was introduced. Likewise, the use of silk, cotton and fur products increased.

The concept of fashion as it is currently understood arose in the Renaissance. Thus, sewing professionals appeared who strove to create rich and original suits, with bright colors and imaginative shapes, giving great importance to the sleeves, folds and drapes of fabric. At this time, short baggy pants, the doublet (garment adjusted to the body that was worn over the shirt) and ornaments such as the ruff were used. For women’s clothing, the corset made its appearance, which cinched the waist and exalted the bust, and the crinoline or crinoline, a fabric base, horsehair and metal rings that gave the dress a flared shape. In the 17th century, a strong religious influence led to a return to austere forms and cloth was used as the most common material, leaving silk for the upper classes. At this time the doublet is transformed into a jacket, with a ruffled collar and the pants were lengthened until they were under high boots. The court of French King Louis XIV began to dictate the evolution of fashion at the European level and introduced the tie (at first as a bow knotted around the neck) and the jacket.

In the eighteenth century the attire does not change much compared to the previous century. Men’s attire consisted of wide-sleeved shirts with a tie and jacket and knee-length breeches and stockings. The jacket was narrowed giving rise to the tailcoat. The female outfit consisted of very voluminous skirts over a crinoline with pleats and a train. After the French Revolution, the style of dress was standardized and men began to wear short jackets and long pants, and women, bodices, round skirts, and cloth shawls. In addition, the leadership of fashion passed to England, dressing the man in a turtleneck jacket, knee breeches and a top hat. The woman abandons the corset and crinoline and begins to wear long tight dresses with a ribbon under the chest inspired by Ancient Greece. In the XIX century, the tailcoat was shortened and widened until it resembled the current jacket, the pants were wide at the top and tapered to the ankle and the parting appeared and the capes were replaced by straight-cut coats. Women’s fashion dropped the waist to the waist with wide sleeves and shoulder pads and full-length skirts. In this century, the figure of the dressmaker or tailor appeared as a creator of trends, as well as a model to show clothes. In addition, the point appeared as a genre and the sewing machine was invented. In this century, the figure of the dressmaker or tailor appears as a creator of trends, as well as a model to show clothes. In addition, the point appeared as a genre and the sewing machine was invented. In this century, the figure of the dressmaker or tailor appears as a creator of trends, as well as a model to show clothes. In addition, the point appeared as a genre and the sewing machine was invented.

And we come to the 20th century, the century that has had the most changes in fashion in all of history, especially in terms of women’s fashion, which was simplified because more importance was given to its practical and utilitarian nature. The skirts are shortened, appearing the miniskirt, and unisex fashion appears, women being able to wear pants. In the middle of the century, the leadership of fashion passed to the United States, which imposed a type of youthful and sporty fashion exemplified by the popularization of jeans. In this century, the manufacture of clothes in a chain with different sizes appeared and the manufacture of custom-made clothes declined greatly, which allowed fashion to be produced at affordable prices and within the reach of anyone, with the difference between social classes being more in the genre of the fabric than in the way of dressing.

The 21st century is facing a problem: all fashion has already been invented. The resolution then is to modernize the fashions of the previous centuries with modern materials and always within a practicality. Jeans and miniskirts are maintained and long skirts and baggy pants are back. The height of pants varies enormously every two years and garments from other cultures are introduced (shitty pants, Indian shirts…). It’s amazing that we don’t wear Greek tunics, although we do wear sandals inspired by Greek footwear, in the summer. In any case, what is spectacular about this century compared to the others is that there is no uniform fashion. In previous centuries, women’s attire was one way and masculine another, within certain personal and social class differences, everyone dressed the same. Now no two people wear the same thing. One is wearing pants and a sweater and the one next to her is a long skirt and jacket, and the one on the other side is wearing a miniskirt and a T-shirt. Fashion in this century is based on diversity.