In the next part of Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair’s guide to fashion in every decade of the 20th century, we look at the 1910s. (If you missed our guide to fashion in the 1900s click here http://bit.ly/1gJqSL2).

One hundred years ago the news headlines were ringing over the sinking of the Titanic and the First World War but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. It was also the era of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the first jazz music recording (by The Original Dixieland Jass Band) and the first time movie-goers were introduced to Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp character.

Though the fashion industry stayed much the same as it had in the previous decade – Paris was still the epicentre of fashion and Poiret and Worth were still the key designers – there were some radical changes in styles that would shape the fashion landscape forever. The most notable change was the introduction of trousers for women. The first styles were baggy, harem pantaloons worn underneath full skirts with slits but by the end of the decade, daring women were wearing them more openly with the new shorter skirts that rose well above the ankle. Charles Worth said of the radical new garment at the time “Yes, certainly they will (become popular). They will accept it because it is vulgar, ugly and wicked – those reasons ensure the success of any article of feminine wear.”

Draping was not only popular for trousers but in dresses too and a more fluid silhouette took shape thanks to Eastern inspirations. An exception to this though was the hobble skirt which was long and hugged the legs tightly but it soon lost popularity for its impractical nature, especially as women were pursuing a more active lifestyle including driving. Hats were still very much a part of everyday dress code but the extreme wide brims and embellishments were now rather laughable, making way for less extravagent designs and the introduction of the cloche hat which was tipped to be one of the next big trends for the 1920s.

For men, a loser silhouette was also favoured with a crease put in trousers which were cuffed at the ankle. Of course though, most men found themselves in a khaki wool uniform from the middle of the decade. The standard troop uniform – which had been the army uniform since 1902 – was comprised of a tunic, trousers and peaked cap. The tunic had two breast pockets, two smaller front pockets and an internal right hand pocket. The shoulders had two straps, held down with brass buttons that matched the single breasted brass buttons down the front. Badges marking your rank and regiment were sewn on the upper sleeve while badges awarded for long service or good conduct were on the lower sleeve. The caps were also khaki woollen with a leather strap held down by brass buttons. Officers wore brown boots while the rest of the troops wore black, they had a steel plate on the heel but no toe caps and a hobnail soul.

Collectors tip: World War One uniforms and paraphernalia will be especially popular this year as the 100th anniversary is marked and the prices of such pieces are rising roughly around 5% each year making it a real investment.

In a few weeks we’ll be taking a closer look at fashion in the roaring 1920s so keep coming back!

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