Fashion in 1910 was unique. It retained much of the class and style of the previous era, but with a simplified flare. However, World War I had an immense impact in the everyday lives of individuals and families, including on what they wore.
Although the decade of the 1920s is known more for radical changes in fashion, most of those major changes can be traced back to the beginning of the decade, with fashion trends in 1910.
Below is a quick look at some of the styles and clothing that your Western ancestors are likely to have worn during this period.
Women’s 1910s Fashion
Women’s fashion from 1910 to 1919 had a very distinct look. Some of its most recognizable features include the following elements.
The decade featured big, stylish hats. During the decade, it became widely popular for women to wear big, wide-brimmed hats adorned with feathers, ribbons, veils, or other accessories.
Dresses and Skirts
The fashion silhouette softened significantly during the decade, with less emphasis on the S-shape that corsets created and more focus on a fluid, more flowing look.
This shift was reflected in the way dresses and skirts were designed. Dress lengths fell to just above the ankle, which was higher than the floor-length ball gowns of previous years.
In contrast to the hoop skirts of previous decades, the 1910s brought a new trend, where skirts tightened around the ankle. These skirts looked almost like a longer, more flowing version of the pencil skirts of today. They were often worn with a tunic, jacket, or even a fur-lined coat.
Boots were a popular choice for women during this decade, and there was a wide variety of evolving Edwardian styles to choose from. High, curved heels were a big trend during this decade for men and women alike.
Many women’s boots resembled the style of men’s church shoes, but with feminine touches, such as rounder shapes, thinner heels, and decorative bows. In the evening, women would wear court shoes, which more closely resembled small heels or slippers.
Men’s Fashion in 1910s
Men’s fashion has not seen as dramatic a change since 1910. What men wore then is very similar to what you might find in a shopping mall today, with some slight differences.
For example, while coattails were still worn during the evenings or for special events, this decade marked an important shift to a more casual look, where suits became more functional, and styles extended beyond the silk top hat.
One of the most recognized features from early in the century are men’s hats. Felt derby and bowler hats became standard accessories for well-dressed men of the 1910s, and these hats were likely more comfortable than the silk top hats that men reserved for formal events.
After the war, fedoras also grew in popularity, right along with flat sportsman caps and straw boater hats for the summer months.
At the beginning of the decade, it was popular for men to wear a loose-fitting, long suit called a sack suit. Once the war ended, younger men wanted something different than what their fathers had worn, which resulted in more tailored-fit, colored suits. These suits felt more familiar to those who had spent months in a military uniform.
Men had several options to choose from when it came to footwear, many of which resemble today’s dress shoes, occasionally with a few extra buttons. Some styles were more formal than others, but in many cases the trend matched women’s footwear, with a high, curving heel.
1910s Fashion for Children
The 1910s were a significant period when it came to children. In this era, children stopped wearing smaller versions of adult clothing and began to wear clothing made specifically for them.
Knickers and knee socks became standard for boys during this period. Fauntleroy suits were briefly popular during the 1910s, but soon became reserved for formal wear. More colors began to appear, pushing the boundaries away from the standard dark and white.
Girls began to wear fabric that was more durable and less delicate, allowing them to move and play. Dresses became shorter and had less detail due to material rationing during World War I. With less time for laundry, styles became looser, making clothes easier to wash. Knee socks also became popular for girls, as did hair ribbons.
Details such as these make history come to life. Do you know what your ancestors wore during the years 1910–1919? You may be able to find pictures of them in FamilySearch Memories, a repository of old family photos. You can also upload family photos yourself and show off the fashion of your grandparents or great-grandparents in 1910!