MILFORD – Looking back at the nation’s fashion trends, many find it interesting to see how events like World War I leaked into the styles of clothing worn during that time period.
During a “Fashions of Downton Abbey” presentation at the Milford Town Library Saturday, fashion historian Karen Antonowicz spoke about the history of clothing as paralleled by the historical drama television series Downton Abbey.
“Over time, whatever is happening in the world will definitely affect fashion,” said Antonowicz.
During her presentation, Antonowicz, who has a degree in fashion and textiles from the University of Rhode Island, focused mainly on fashion from 1912 to 1920. She did, however, speak about the Edwardian period which took place from 1901 to 1910.
During the Edwardian period, women wore boned corsets that gave them what was known as an ‘S bend,’ meaning it forced the chest forward, while forcing the rear end back.
“Corsets formed the body into the desired shape,” said Antonowicz.
In 1914, when World War I began, fashion changed.
“During World War I, women wore looser clothing because comfort became more important,” said Antonowicz.
Skirt lengths began to rise, and shoes and stockings became more important in fashion. After the war, as skirts continued to rise, waistlines came down. The shape of women’s clothing also became looser fit.
“I find it fascinating how historical events like World War I are reflected in women’s fashion,” said Paula O’Hare of Milford, who attended the event with her granddaughter Jackie O’Hare.
“I like going to events like this with my grandmother to learn about the culture and fashions,” said Jackie O’Hare of Westborough.
During the summer, women wore lighter fabrics such as cotton and linen, large hats with feathers, and fur-trimmed clothing usually made from fox or mink pelts became popular.
In the 1920s, the flapper look was incorporated into fashion. Hair was usually cut into a short bob style, skirts became shorter, and knees were blushed. The reason for this change in fashion was because women were granted the right to vote, which empowered a new wave of independence and confidence for women.
After the presentation, people were allowed to get a closer look at the articles of clothing Antonowicz brought to her presentation.
“You don’t see this quality anymore, and the fashion is so different because of the socio-economic trends,” said Evelyn Squadrille of Upton.
“What I find amazing is how small the clothing was,” said Linda Trudeau of Bellingham, holding up an old wedding dress in front of her own body.
This presentation was just one in a running string of events hosted by the Friends of the Milford Town Library. The Friends is a non-profit organization that raises money to promote and support programs not covered in the library’s budget.
Christian Yapor can be reached at 508-634-7521, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ChristianYapor.