28th July 2014 marked 100 years since the start of World War One and a lot has changed since then, including in the field of fashion. Although we’ve come a long way from corsets and long skirts, the War actually created a lot of trends that are still used in the modern fashion industry, and there are a few that might surprise you!
1) The trench coat: Designed as a modern and lightweight garment for officers in the trenches, this style of coat was also adopted by women, who were also largely employed in war work. Women required less constricting garments to handle such work, which was often of a manual nature. Today, the trench coat is still a staple in the fashion world and is constantly being reinvented with new twists to keep it current.
2) Harem pants: Harem pants became popular in the war as a more practical alternative to skirts. This gave women more physical freedom to move around. Most women weren’t keen to cause too much of a stir though and wore their harem pants under a dress for reasons of modesty!
3) Silk PJs: Rushing around in an air raid could be a dangerous event in a traditional long nightie, so magazines introduced the idea of a more sensible (yet glamourous!) two piece style of nightwear instead. The pyjamas were part of the new ‘Zeppelin Fashion,’ named after the airships used by the Germans.
The War also saw the birth of the fashion show, which was used to raise funds for the war by presenting garments to the general public. Prior to this, those customers who had the means to do so, ordered personalised and tailored clothing directly from their designer or seamstress.
This was all changed with the introduction of fashion shows, one example of which was held in 1914 when Vogue organised a fashion show in New York to showcase the city’s designers and work.