“Changing Women's Fashion”: A Look at Coeds' Clothing on SU's Campus from Pre-1900-1950s - Formal Wear Slideshow

These formal wear images will give you a glimpse into the glamour of evening wear. Whether dressed for a formal portrait or for a night of dancing, these co-eds knew how to do frilly or flowing, fabulously.

Though this photo displays a black and white image, women's clothes at the end of the 19th century were very colorful. Florence H. Chidester, 1875 [ARM Image 11-1346.jpg] Though the ornate bustle worn on the back of dresses deflated in the middle of the 1870s little was done to ease women's movement in their garments. The French termed this figure <em>le femme ligoteé</em> (<em>ligoteé</em> meaning bound) since women appeared to be swaddled from the waist down.1875 [ARM Image 11-1347.jpg] Often in the 1880s a full panel, edged and covered with frills, was inserted in the back of the dress under the skirt to support the heavy back draping. These were sometimes made with detachable portions that could be added to the gown for a fuller evening look. Carrie Ida Shevelson, 1879 [ARM Image 11-0118.jpg] Towards the end of the century, evening wear began to favor a neckline that was often edged with frills to frame the face. Ladies Glee and Guitar Clubs,1895 [ARM Image 11-1361.jpg] We see the beginnings of a rising hemline in this student's gown worn to Junior Prom in the mid-1910s. Her shoe easily sticks out below her skirt while she stands. Junior Prom, c. 1913 [ARM Image 11-0880.jpg] The 1910s saw a recall of a dozen different styles from the past; this gown has a Grecian style. Senior Ball, c. 1914 [ARM Image 11-0881.jpg] The <em>bateau neckline</em> seen here was characterized by a shallow depth at the same level in front and back. It was named after the curving upper line of a boat, or <em>bateau</em> in French. Harriet Bissell, 1925 [ARM Image 11-1392.jpg] The relatively small amount of fabric required for dresses in the mid-1920s meant cut and detail became exceedingly important. There were no more frills and ruffles to hide poor quality. The chosen colors for evening were almond green, light blue or a dusty rose, but white was the most preferred. Janet M. Scrimgeour, 1925 [ARM Image 11-1394.jpg] In the spring of 1924, Paris showed collections with decided changes to women's fashion. Hemlines were short, hitting at or just above the calf, and waistlines no longer fluctuated but were clearly settled at the hips. The bust and hips of the wearer were camouflaged. The <em>Onondagan</em>, 1926 [ARM Document 26ONONDAGAN0011.jpg] It quickly became fashionable in the 1920s to look more like an adolescent girl than a curvaceous woman. This student, dressed for the Senior Ball, displays this desired body type. 1929 [ARM Image 11-1400.jpg] The early 1930s saw a return of a more fluid silhouette for gowns. Skirts were once again long and waists were at the natural or slightly higher line, though they were not yet accentuated. The most important accessories for evening were gloves, like the student on the left is wearing. Senior Ball, c. 1930 [ARM Image 11-0884.jpg] Evening wear of the 1930s consisted of a gown, with a slender silhouette enhanced by the clinging materials used, and often featured a matching cape of the same material lined with fur. Lydia Tyrrell and Harriett Cook, c. 1930 [ARM Image 11-1324.jpg] The clinging materials favored in the 1930s were trailing chiffon, velvet or satin and the draped necklines added to the over-all effect of fluidity. Elizabeth Marsh, 1932 [ARM Image 11-1396.jpg] The importance of shoulders became evident in the 1940s in many ways, one of which was the off-the-shoulder cut of many evening gowns. c. 1940 [ARM Image 11-1323.jpg] The epaulettes and the emphasized shoulders from the use of shoulder pads are a residual trend from the day wear of the 1930s and were designed to enhance the small waist. Senior Ball Queen Finalists,1945 [ARM Image 11-1312.jpg] Matching stoles were a popular compliment to evening wear in the 1940s.Ida Gibson, Senior Ball Queen, 1946 [ARM Image 11-1365.jpg] The use of manmade fibers, of necessity during the war years and out of convenience in the years following, made fullness in skirts possible without the use of underpinnings. Patricia Healy, Sophomore Beauty of the Present, 1946 [ARM Image 11-1367.jpg] Gowns in the post-war years began to dispense with any shoulder coverings, as seen in some of these strapless and one shouldered dresses. Junior Beauties Finalists, 1947 [ARM Image 11-1314.jpg] Many trends of 1940s evening wear can be seen in this photograph. Gloves as a must-have accessory, bare shoulders to enhance the face, all-over prints such as the black and white plaid, and full skirts are a few. Sno Ball Queen, 1948 [ARM Image 11-1313.jpg] No two gowns were alike in this period. Too many styles, cuts, and fabrics could be chosen to allow for duplication at campus events.Senior Ball Queen Finalists, c.1940-1950 [ARM Image 11-1311.jpg] After the difficulties of the war years, a return to luxury was evident in the 1950s. No combination of fabrics was too rich. Sno Ball Queen and court, 1952 [ARM Image 11-0860.jpg] Sleeves were important fashion features in the 1950s. The dress worn by Colgate Weekend Queen Marjorie Ward (second from the left) would have been considered highly fashionable. The beauties of Colgate Weekend,1958 [ARM Image 11-1373.jpg] The bubble dress was introduced by French designer Pierre Cardin in 1957. Short skirts and dresses with stiffened linings created the bubble shape seen on this co-ed.1958 [ARM Image 07-0020.jpg]