Evolution of Edwardian Fashion

Even though Edwardian fashion for women was cumbersome and restrictive, there can be no doubt that Edwardian women's clothing spawned some of the most elegant fashion in the history of female attire. However, in the advent of women's rights and the plights of the poor, it begs the question as to whether or not one should see Edwardian fashion for its beauty and grandeur while seeing women's fashion of this period as a simple veneer of beauty while remembering the fact that women's fashion of this period was very uncomfortable and were set according to male standards and ideals. The fashion of the period can be traced to the luxury of European society which had been made possible by the enslavement and subjugation of people around the world through colonialism and imperialism. The term Edwardian itself is very Ethnocentric, essentially labeling a time in world history according to the name of one King in England. There is no guilt in adoring such female beauty, but one must remember the context of the period and remember that life was not so glamorous for minorities, immigrants and the poor.

The grand extravagance came to an end at the beginning of World War One and the issue of the poor became a hot topic throughout European, intellectual circles. Because of the war effort and the highlight on those suffering in society, many elites chose not to flaunt such grand fashions in public and hence the grand fashions of old suddenly became unacceptable. From the 1920s onward, dress and fashion had become more subdued and tame. The 1920s also witnessed the women's movement for voting rights and more women were entering the workforce; therefore, the demand for practical and simplistic fashion grew popular because many women saw the fashions of their mothers and grandmothers as a repressive tool that was not practical for women and were tailored according to men's desires. A good example is the corset which was meant to exude the popular hourglass figure, a mostly male standard.

Grand fashion created a dream-life that many middle class women of the Victorian and Edwardian era had hoped to achieve. In today's society, it is easy for people in a post-modern world to sit back and gaze in awe of Edwardian fashion and there is nothing wrong with being attracted to such beauty. In a wider context, however, women who sported such royal fashions were very lucky given how tough life was for not only women of poorer classes, but people of different ethnicity around the world.


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