The evolution of women’s clothing
By: Karen Nazor Hill
About 700 years ago, a law was passed in Scotland making it acceptable for a woman to propose marriage to a man on Feb. 29.
If the man declined, he had to pay a fine that could range from a kiss to a payment for a silk dress or a pair of gloves, according to the Web site about.com.
Fashion, most notably the silk dress, was evidently as important to women in the 14th century as it is now. And though a silk dress continues to be a fashionable favorite, the cut of the garment has changed drastically over the last seven centuries.
The biggest change in women’s fashion, the showing of skin, took place in the last century, said Katherine Roberts, co-owner of Susanna’s, an upscale women’s boutique in Riverview.
“(Before that) women were pretty much covered from head to toe,” she said, crediting the change in women’s fashion to the late French designer Coco Chanel.
“She taught women they could do whatever they wanted. She gave us fashion freedom,” Ms. Roberts said.
According to the Web site Time.com, Ms. Chanel (1883- 1971) wasn’t just ahead of her time; she was ahead of herself.
“She mixed up the vocabulary of male and female clothes and created fashion that offered the wearer a feeling of hidden luxury rather than ostentation,” the Web site reports.
Skirts became shorter. Skin became tanned. And women began wearing revealing bathing suits more confidently, Ms. Roberts said. “Coco Chanel made fashion fun.”
Megan Everett, co-owner of Va Va Vintage, a vintage clothing store on Hixson Pike, said women welcomed the freedom of choice.
Women’s fashion changed even more in the 1970s when women went to work, Ms. Everett said. “That’s when hems went up even higher. No hats. No gloves. It hasn’t been the same since then.”
“We won’t go back,” Ms. Roberts said about the fashion evolution. “We like where we are.”
Tell us: Fashion really has evolved—but if you could revisit any decade (for the fashion alone) which would it be?